America, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, Music, UK

Rainydays and Songdays – the American musical

Give my regards to Broadway, Remember me to Herald Square, Tell all the gang at Forty-Second Street, that I will soon be there.

Because it’s come to my notice that they’re making a movie out of Hamilton for release next year and we’ve been binge-watching musicals during lockdown.

I’m taking a Yankee Doodle Dandy dander through the American musical with a stop-off in London’s West End and Dublin’s Theatreland too.

Come all: Come From Away. www.broadway.com

Away, away, away, away

Come From Away: Which is all visitors coming into North America anyway.

These ones, of course, were the 38 planeloads who had to land in the small Newfoundland town of Dander after 9/11.

And found out a lot more about each other as I did when I saw it in Denver.

We all come from far away and have become friends over the years at IPW, the American Travel Fair, who bring the best of Broadway to whichever town is in town.

And here’s one from the show worth coming for…. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=p8JI70eXjG8.

Peak form? Wicked. https://www.wickedthemusical.co.uk/

Wicked stuff

And this one cones to you from Dublin and New York and Oz.

Which is, of course, the thing about musicals, they transform you to other lands.

Dublin was where Disney on Broadway invited us to take in Wicked.

But if you can’t get to the show this will warm your heart up… https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=HEnQY_66GZc

She’s all heart: The Carole King Musical. www.broadwaydirect.com

King of London City

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical: I felt the earth move when I caught the story of the greatest female songwriter of all time in London.

And that was just from my kids holding an unsanctioned party back in Greystones in Co. Wicklow in Ireland.

And our next-door neighbour texting us to tell us they had called the Gardai

Didn’t stop me throwing shapes though. It could wait until I got home before I threw my weight around!

And Carole.., What a natural woman!

All you need is…, Las Vegas. www.cirquedesoleil.com

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE

The Beatles LOVE: And this being Cirque de Soleil you just know it will be an interactive experience.

With trapeze artists and dancers twirling about… Vegas, baby!

All to the background of Liverpool‘s finest, the Fab Four.

And you’ll be lucky and see a guy in the sky with diamonds (or sequins at least).

Of course, the best musical is the one about a half-Scottish New Yorker who made good and led his country to great things.

This is my pick from the various productions out there.

Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, UK

Haunted houses – Dracula and Scotland

I can’t recall what brought my short-lived Cubs career to an end nor much about what we did in the Scout Hut, but I do remember the Haunted House next door.

In these less innocent and imaginative days haunted houses seem to have gone out of fashion.

But the ghosts and ghoulies haven’t gone away, and with all of us consigned to our houses these days you’d better not have been ignoring them.

Scotland’s Scary One

Bram Stoker was certainly alive to their presence and spirited up the Dead when he was inspired to write Dracula on a visit to north-east Scotland.

And placed the nocturnal room in Slains Castle in Cruden Bay as the dwelling of one Count Dracula.

As spooky houses go it is certainly more frightening than the lot in a Dublin shopping centre where you’ll find Bram Stoker’s Castle Dracula Experience.

Although much like his crypt if you delve inside you’ll find there’s lots to sink your teeth into.

Dublin’s Bram Stoker Festival is always finding new ways of reinventing themselves and they’re billing this year’s digital offering as a Grave New World.

Slains Castle

Which is what we’ll all be doing too, turning our homes into Haunted Houses… and The Scary One and her Mini-Me have been dressing up for the part.

Now I don’t know where the Scout Hut is in my new hometown of North. Berwick but my mother-in-law never sees a guising.

Pumpkin time

And here’s an Irish Halloween blessing to keep away the gremlins…

At all Hallow’s Tide, may God keep you safe,

From goblin and pooka and black-hearted stranger

From harm of the water and hurt of the fire

From thorns of the bramble, from all other danger,

From Will O’ The Wisp haunting the mine,

From stumbles and tumbles and tricksters to vex you,

May God in His Mercy, this week protect you.

Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, Music, UK

Rainy Days and Songdays – Roll Over Beethoven

And because this week I’ll be hooking up with my German pals for a virtual celebration of Beethoven, this being the 250th anniversary of his birth, I give you the classics.

Ear, ear Beethoven

This one’s for Elise

Beethoven, Teplice, Czech Republic: And you’d expect to see Ludwig in this wellness town back in the 18th Century.

Because Bohemia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Vienna and Prague were musical centres where Germans flocked to.

I paid my tribute to The Great Man this year at the Beethoven Spa Hotel in Teplice where he stayed, and his room is still there for him.

And he got treatment for his ears, tried out some funky horns and left his death mask.

We also tried out the titular cafe, and the hot chocolate and chocolate cake for research purposes. An empty piano awaited the maestro.

If Beethoven had written a Fur Katarina I’d point you to that in celebration of our host and my pal, but we have the equally enchanting Elise, so here’s Fur Elise.

Rock me Amadeus

Eine Kleine Sadie Music

Mozart, Salzburg, Austria: And, yes, the Austrian singer Falco toasted Mozart with this hit.

A Wiener, he was what Mozart wanted to be, though almost certainly not in musical terms, but certainly in his origins.

Wolfgang was no fan of his home place, Salzburg, which he thought had a small-town attitude.

High standards. We loved it on out ski trip to Soll (it is a Sound if Music Mecca too).

Although the museums are too spread out, you do get right under Wolfie’s skin ;and hair). Here’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, pretty much the only German I know.

Vivaldi’s Veneto

The Dragon, Constsnce and Bandanaman in Venice

Vivaldi, Padova/Veneto: And for many, particularly the Eighties generation, punk violinist Nigel Kennedy, and his rendition of Four Seasons, was it for classical music.

I don’t know if Kieran ‘The Dragon’ who was in our party in Padova was an aficionado but he took casual chic to a new level.

I take some responsibility as I’d wheeled him and fellow Venice newbie Constance out to Lagoon City.

We were back late but had each taken a change of clothes while Dragon was still in his boardies.

While the orchestra were kitted out and the waiters and waitresses too in the sumptuous Padova Botanical Gardens.

Anyhoo, here’s an excerpt of L’Autunno from Il Quattro Stagione.

Boheme Rhapsody

Raising the roof: Prague

Puccini, Prague: And long before rockers namechecked cities, the Classical composers were doing it.

Whisper it, the opera is set in Paris, the Bohemian bit is the fun label attached to what are modern-day Czechs.

And so, for me, the ideal place to watch Giacomo Puccini’s Classic is the State Opera in Prague.

Everybody loves to party in Prague, monks in the Strahov Monastery Brewery and priests swigging Champagne during the intermission at the State Opera.

Handel with care

No cats or mice allowed

Handel Dublin: And George Handel chose Dublin, the second city of the Empire, because he felt the London audiences had started to take him for granted.

No shrinking violet George, there was a statue to him erected in Dublin while he was still alive.

The premiere was packed and ladies were asked not to wear hooped dresses so as to allow more in.

That show was performed at the Musick Hall in Fishamble Street. Now you’ll want to go to Christchurch Cathedral for your opera fix.

But not the place for a cat or a mouse whose mummified remains are on display in the cathedral’s crypt…. they’d got stuck in the organ.

It’s immortalised in James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake.

Anyhoos Christ Church Cathedral puts on recitals and thanks to my friends at Travel Department we channeled old Handel one balmy evening.

Canada, Countries, Ireland

Where Canadians honeymoon? Ireland

A quarter of a million Canadians can’t be wrong about Ireland.

Which is why so many in Canada https://visit-canada.ca will tune into an episode of CTV Life Channel reality show Where to I Do tonight.

About a couple who search for the perfect venue for the wedding of their dreams.

Lutrellstown

Filming took place here last summer and was supported by Tourism Ireland www.tourismireland.com and Fáilte Ireland https://www.failteireland.ie.

Rock on Tommy

I don’t know him myself but my Canadian pals will be familiar with host Tommy Smyth who is taking his show outside North America for the first time.

Tommy will bring Josh and Andee to Luttrellstown Castle on the outskirts of Dublin www.visitdublin.com.

And a personal favourite, Kilruddery House & Gardens in Co. Wicklow https://killruddery.com.

And the Cliff at Lyons in Co. Kildare http://www.kildare.ie/tourism/

Kilruddery

Tourism Ireland in Toronto have been bysy flagging up the prog.

Party time

And hosted an online ‘watch party’ for Canadian influencers.

The online party included a Q&A session with the show’s host Timmy Smythe who chatted about his time filming in Ireland.

The Orangerie at The Cliff, Co. Kildare

And don’t I know it about Irish weddings with my Dear Old Dad and Mum marrying in Dublin’s port town of Dún Laoghaire.

Lost in France

Before heading for Europe on a road trip where Dad got them lost in Paris.

Wicklow’s vista

And the lesson here… honeymoon in Ireland.

Africa, America, Countries, Culture, Europe

Putting these statues on a pedestal

All joking aside about Zlatan ‘The Ego’ Ibramovich being cut down to size.

But is it right that the Sweden soccer superstar should befall the same fate as Edward Colston in Bristol, Lord Nelson in Dublin and Saddam Hussein in Baghdad?

The fallen Zlatan. www.abc.go.com

Now I’m all for sportspeople, celebrities, actors and even, and particularly, animals to be put on a pedestal.

Because haven’t the aristocracy and the war leaders had their day in our affection and deference?

So here are is my unscientific list of my favourite statues.

And please let me know who I’ve missed out.

Greyfriars Bobby, Edinburgh

Bobby’s boy: Greyfriars Bobby in Edinburgh

Well, if Bobby’s tale was good enough for Walt Disney then it’s good enough for me.

Bobby is buried not far from here in Greyfriars Kirk next to his master John Gray on whose grave he slept every night.

And he was then awarded the Freedom of the City of Edinburgh.

You’re advised though not to kiss his nose for luck as many started doing… it’s not lucky for Bobby as it’s wearing away.

For more on Edinburgh and Scotland visit http://www.edinburgh.org and http://www.visitscotland.com.

And, of course, I always like to flag up ma wee hame country. And here’s a wee sample of what we eat and drink…

With https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/12/19/hungry-and-thursday-whisky-and-the-water-of-long-life/ and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/12/26/hungry-and-thursday-curried-christmas-turkey/

Fannie Lou Hamer, Ruleville, Mississippi

A little big woman: Fannie Lou Hamer in Mississippi

Sometimes it’s the design that catches you and stops you in your tracks.

And so it is with this remarkable little woman,

The President of the USA, Lydon Baines, Johnson took extraordinary measures in stopping her saying her piece at the Democratic Convention by having television change its schedule.

Fannie Lou Hamer’s life was extraordinary, born into a sharecropping family and picking cotton from the age of six, she was later forced out of her home, threatened with her very life and beaten.

All because she wanted to sign on on the voting register.

She summed up her struggle in the Civil Rights Movement thus, and of course nobody could say it better: ‘I got sick and tired of being sick and tired.’

Visit www.visitmississippi.org

And why not read my American Trilogy… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-promised-land-martin-luther-king/, https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-story-of-the-blues/ and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/elvispresley-the-king-of-kings/?

Anne Frank, Amsterdam

The flower of youth: Anne Frank in Amsterdam

Us journalists like to think of ourselves as hard-bitten but I had to choke back the tears walking through the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam…. http://www.annefrank.org.

The audio narrative dwelt on a passage in her diary where she mentions that she wants to become a journalist when she’s older.

And what a journalist she would have been… ethical (yes, some of us are), prying and fearless.

Amsterdam is one of the world’s great cities and Anne one of history’s greatest figures… http://www.iamsterdam.com.

And here is proof of that… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/pictures-of-amsterdam/ and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/george-and-amal-hotel/

Piss, Prague

Splash

Statues should be provocative and the Czechs have this one down to a T.

‘Piss’ is the good people of Prague’s commentary on the politicians who have urinated all over their country.

You’ll not see it here but once the water gets flowing they pee all over the map of the country.

The Czechs as well as being the world’s biggest lager drinkers, per population, with some of the world’s best beers, are wonderfully anti-establishmentarian.

Visit http://www.czechtourism.com and here’s some other musings on the Czech Republic https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/24/czech-it-out-2/

Phil Lynott, Dublin

The boys are back in town: With my old pal Paul in Dublin

There are statues to musical giants all over the world but while former Thin Lizzy lead singer Phil Lynott isn’t the best or most famous singer of them all, try telling that to Dubliners.

It is a tradition now for visitors to Dublin to have their photo taken outside Philo’s statue off the main Grafton Street shopping thoroughfare.

That other statue, the Tart with the Cart, Molly Malone? Well you can leave that to the uninitiated.

And seeing you’ll be in town here is where you want to stay… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-intercontinental-what-a-ledge/

And this site will point you in the direction of other goodies… http://www.visitdublin.com.

Nelson, Bridgetown, Barbados

He’s obviously not the only Horatio or the biggest, and as I’ve alluded to already some not too far from here even blew him up.

But he was a survivor, except when he was killed obvs, and he lost an eye and an arm.

Death might even have been a better gig too as he was transported home in a vat of rum… a good way to go and one that the Bajans would have approved of.

Until, of course, his old shipmates drilled a hole in the vat and drunk the rum!

Statues are a controversial subject but my Bajan hosts were keen to tell me that Nelson was part of their story too.

And so ignore the white liberals who like to speak for black people, they’re glad to have him keeping his one eye open on what’s going on in Bim.

For more on Barbados see http://www.visitbarbados.org. And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/rihanna-in-barbados/ and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/my-kiss-with-rihanna/

Martin Luther, Dresden

Closer to God am I: The Frauenkiche

Some statues can withstand anything.

Martin Luther stood as a defiant symbol of Dresdeners refusal to see their city disappear after the Allies’ firebombing at the end of the Second World War.

The Dresdeners rebuilt the obliterated Frauenkirche sixty years later, after they had got rid of the Communists.

Using as the plans photographs they had asked the public to send in from their weddings.

Dresden was known as the Florence of the Elbe and it is one of the great architectural stories of our age, or any age, to see how the Dresdeners have rebuilt their city to the same grandeur of its renaissance days.

For more information on Dresden http://www.dresden.de and also take a trip through the ages with me with https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/dresdens-renaissance-martin-luther/

Hans Christian Andersen, Copenhagen

With Tom and My Little Princess in Copenhagen

Yes, the Little Mermaid is more visited, but personally I prefer the top-hatted Hans in the heart of Copenhagen.

Hans was an eccentric all right and once decamped on Charles Dickens, walked around the house in the starkers, and made it difficult for Charlie to show him the door.

Very Scandinavian and it just makes me want to revisit Denmark… http://www.visitingcopenhagen.com and digging out my Scandinavian wanderings https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-call-of-the-fjords/

Nelson Mandela Voting Line, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

March to Freedom: In Port Elizabeth

Statues shouldn’t just stand there. No, really. And this is a moving symbolic Voting Line which sums up South African democracy.

This is our host Sisseko and beside him a kid as he would have been back in 1995 when South Africa had its historic vote.

It is also immersive and you don’t have to climb up a plinth to get next to it as they do in Glasgow when they put police cones on the Duke of Wellington.

It is the way I should imagine that Nelson, a native of the Eastern Cape, would have wanted it.

And for more on South Africa’s Eastern Cape visit http://www.meetyoursouthafrica.net and http://www.southafrica.net. And this is how I tries to do it justice… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/homemyoffice/whats-new-pussycat/

Martin Luther King, Washington DC

Unfinished business: Martin Luther King in Washington DC

We’ll never stop building statues, of course, and I expect a Bandanaman up in my name when my Travelling days are done.

This statue of Dr Martin Luther King is never meant to be finished though.

Until the Civil Rights struggle has been finally met which, of course, it never will be, alas.

But what genius and how moving. For more on my favourite capital city visit http://Easy DC and http://www.washington.org.

America, Countries, Culture, Europe, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

Hungry and Thursday – barflying around the globe

What’s hospitable about a UK Hospitality industry that wants to bar us (sorry) from sitting at the bar?

But that’s what they’re proposing to the British Government postlockdown.

Many an hour (or day) I’ve spent sat on a stool getting to know the locals, and most importantly the barman in some foreign clime.

And these are just some of the bar stools where I’ve wedged my backside.

Now I’m aware that this column has been over this territory before https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/02/13/hungry-and-thursday-the-best-bar-none-on-my-travels/amp/.

But these selections aren’t marked on the best bars but the best bars if you see what I mean.

Bustin’ Boston

Irish-America: A Boston institution

The Black Rose, Boston (https://www.blackroseboston.com): Norm Peterson is my all-time drinking hero (now my big pal Finlay has gone to the Great Saloon in the sky).

My friend Neily worked with the Cheers franchise on their carts (the exterior of the bar is the same but the interior was Hollywood) I worked at the Black Rose.

Where every night an Irish-American sang standards (and I can’t get The Black Velvet Band out my head) and at the end of play the boss gave the staff a couple pf pints.

See https://www.bostonusa.com.

I belong to Glasgow, mon

A Glasgow handshake: With Karl in Tobago

Glasgow’s Bar, Tobago Parlatuvier Bay, Tobago: Now Glasgow bars have improved since my childhood when there would be grills on the windows.

The common denominator here is that this is Karl Glasgow’s gaff where the locals, many of them workmen stop by to eat and drink at the bar and look out at this.

See https://www.visittobago.gov.tt and https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2eXQLwnehuQ.

Mary’s spirit

Irish to the core: Mary’s Bar in Dublin

Mary’s Bar, Wicklow Street, Dublin (https://marysbar.ie): And this bar off the best shopping thoroughfare in the Irish capital. Grafton Street, has it all…

They have a quid pro quo relationship with WOWBURGER downstairs and you can take your beer, burger and chips up and sit at the bar.

Where you obviously wash it down with a stout. See www.visitdublin.com.

Do you want ice with that?

The Ice Bar, Jungraujoch, Switzerland: And good luck with keeping us away from the bar here – it’s only two or three deep.

Because it’s at the top of the Jungfrau in the Bernese Alps.

Still, there’s a curling rink and they serve Swhiskey… www.myswitzerland.com and Swhisskey on the rocks.

Home comforts

Learning at the bar: My Uni bar, the St Machar

St Machar Bar, Aberdeen: They say ‘never go back’ and when I did Jim had gone so the doors weren’t thrown open at closing time.

Linda too, with her doorstep sandwiches.

I wouldn’t want to go to University these days…

MEET YOU IN THE BAR

Countries, Europe, Ireland, UK

Thirteen years an Irishman – My five Irish homes

Growing up in Scotland to an Irish mother, and father with Irish roots, I was tagged Irish, or at least Irish-Scots.

Even after 13 years in Ireland I’m still seen as Scottish. I don’t know why, was it the accent, the kilt…?

But, in truth, I will always have two homes.

So, on the day we move out of the home we have filled for 13 and a half hours here are my five Irish homes:

Herself at her favourite Glendalough

Co. Wicklow: The Son and Heir and Daddy’s Little Girl both agree that growing up by the sea in Greystones was a privilege.

And you can ALWAYS get a coffee or hot chocolate. Some happily queue for veggies’ heaven Happy Pear https://thehappypear.ie.

Me? I prefer the eccentric Tomasso and Caffe Delle Stelle https://greystones.ie/caffe-delle-stelle/.

Greystones is framed by Bray Head and the town harbour. Great cliff walk and train ride through the Brunel tunnel.

Also Glendalough, the Meeting of the Waters, Avoca. the inspiration for Ballykissangel, and the spectacular Powerscourt with its waterfalls.

Visit http://visitwicklow.ie, https://www.irelandsancienteast.com and when we stayed… Flowerscourt.

Brill in Belfast City

Belfast boys

Belfast: The aforementioned Son and Heir has relocated to Belfast, another excuse to go up north, as if I needed any.

Myself and the Scary One have obviously been up to see him.

And also the Game of Thrones door, the tapestry in the Ulster Museum https://www.nmni.com/Home.aspx and the Titanic Museum https://www.titanicbelfast.com.

We stayed and can recommend the https://www.fitzwilliamhotelbelfast.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIxO6shb615wIVArDtCh0Zyw_DEAAYASAAEgJ_LvD_BwE.

While when I get the chance to zip up there for, say The Open at Royal Portrush, with Discover Northern Ireland https://discovernorthernireland.com/about-northern-ireland/19-reasons-to-visit-northern-ireland/, or Van Morrison at the Europa http://europa-belfast.hotel-rv.com/index.htm?lbl=ggl-en&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI7taG1L615wIVFODtCh0c2Q-dEAAYAyAAEgKsnPD_BwE and staying at the Grand Central Hotel https://www.grandcentralhotelbelfast.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIjvK297615wIVR7DtCh3wmA7kEAAYASAAEgIb-fD_BwE.

Also check out https://visitbelfast.com and Belfast Chilled.

Monaghan country life

Rolling hills

Teamwork? I find the destination and I leave Herself to organise us getting there, so is it my fault if I give her the wrong dates?

So when we turned up in Monaghan one week early we had to rely on the kindness of the townfolk… Justin Asian Street Food, Monaghan County Museum and Brehon Brewery.

We did make our high tea meeting a couple of weeks later at Castle Leslie where Paul and Heather Mills got married. Let It Be!

Visit https://monaghantourism.com and read Monaghan’s country roads.

Donegal land of my mother

Double trouble

I’ve been going to Donegal all my life… to visit my grandparents, my auntie, and doing an annual pilgrimage with my Mum since.

We always stay in the hotel in the nearest town to her Brockagh homestead, Jackson’s http://www.jacksonshotel.ie in Ballybofey where the Irish Coffee was born.

My mum was the first intake of the Brockagh school which is now home to the patriot Isaac Butt Heritage Centre https://www.discoverireland.ie/Arts-Culture-Heritage/isaac-butt-heritage-centre/10716.

Where photos of her and her family is up on the boards.

While we also love to visit Portnoo with its deserted island and The Flight of the Earls Memorial and Doon Well holy site in Rathmullan.

Visit https://www.govisitdonegal.com.

My rare oul’ times in Dublin

Flagging it up: Temple Bar

Twelve and a half years of it I spent in a soulless, friendless office… but thankfully my pal Nicky runs the iconic InterContinental next door… The InterCon… what a Ledge!

Temple Bar is where the tourists come but you can pick and choose and get away from it all at the Gibson Hotel https://www.thegibsonhotel.ie/?nst=0&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIwoCdtd615wIViLTtCh0WCwqCEAAYAiAAEgLDsfD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds.

I’ve spent many of the best days of my life in Dublin…

Mary’s Bar and Hardware Shop off Grafton Street https://marysbar.ie/?utm_source=maps&utm_campaign=gmb is the pick of my pubs although I’d be shot if I didn’t mention The Workshop Gastro Pub http://www.theworkshopgastropub.com.

Chapter One https://www.chapteronerestaurant.com does the best steaks while Chai Yo Teppanyaki https://www.chaiyo.ie the best Chinese while Wendy Wu Tours http://www.wendywutours.ie the best Chinese New Year spread.

Raising the bar: with Herself

You want museums? Yes, there are the obvious attractions, the Book of Kells in Trinity College Dublin and Dublin Castle.

But I give you The Little Museum of Dublin https://www.littlemuseum.ie/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI5-2-u_y15wIViKztCh2XGQ6dEAAYASAAEgJYS_D_BwE, the Hugh Lane Gallery http://www.hughlane.ie with Francis Bacon’s recreated studio.

And Kilmainham Jail http://kilmainhamgaolmuseum.ie where the 1916 leaders were executed including the gangrenous Scot James Connollly, strapped to his chair.

And for more on Dublin, visit https://www.visitdublin.com and https://www.tourismireland.com.

MEET YOU BACK IN IRELAND

Countries, Culture, Ireland

City delights – Dublin

Just a city boy
Born and raised in West Glasgow
Took the midnight bus
Going all the way

JOURNEYMAN JIMMY

With apologies to Journey, but I am a city boy and these are my city delights.

Kicking off with Dublin where I have worked for the last 13 years (and hope to do so again) here is my occasional series City Delights on my favourite cities.

There will be no science to this.

I’ll just dip in and out of the cities I’ve visited and loved, ones I hope to see, and some I’m not that keen on.

The Four Courts: Photo by Picography on Pexels.com

The History

Dublin should really be called Blackpool, but thank goodness it’s not.

Not that the English pierside city hasn’t got its charms. But!

Black pool (dubh linn) was the name given to the settlement founded in 888.

Where the Poddle stream met the river Liffey to form a deep pool at Dublin Castle http://www.dublincastle.ie.

The Vikings, the Normans, the British, the Irish, the buskers have all sampled her pleasures.

And hers too…

The Tart with the Cart. http://www.lovindublin.com

Sweet Molly Malone

Molly Malone. She never existed.

And she was probably an amalgam of many Scottish/English/American and Irish traders of the 18th and 19th centuries anyway.

But Irish fishmongers did yell ‘Cockles and Mussels Alive, Alive O.’

Today you’ll find Molly, who is known locally as ‘The Tart with the Cart’, outside the Irish Tourist Information Centre. http://www.discoverireland.ie.

The Dubs have a way with words, a sharp sense of humour and a healthy mockery of their celebrities.

The Ace with the Bass: Phil Lynott

Feet of clay

The Fag on the Crag: Oscar Wilde in Merrion Square.

The Prick with the Stick: James Joyce on North Earl Street.

The Crank on the Bank: The cranky poet Patrick Kavanagh.

The Ace with the Ass: The much-loved Thin Lizzy rocker Phil Lynott.

And when the Dubs come to honour their Greatest Ever Citizen…

The Smart Ass in the Sunglasses.

Look out for the bullet holes: O’Connell statue

The fighting Irish

Dublin still bears the scars of its wars for independence.

On the plinth of the statue of Daniel O’Connell, ‘The Liberator’, the entry point to Dublin’s most historic city.

Along the street to the General Post Office where the Easter 1916 leaders proclaimed independence and holed themselves in http://www.dublinvisitorcentre.ie and http://www.visitdublin.com.

Against the bullets of the British Army,

And at Kilmainham Gaol http://www.kilmainhamgaol.ie where the leaders were shot, among them James Connolly who was strappped to a chair on account of his gangrenous leg.

The craic

The Champ and his Dad at Mary’s

The party spirit is indistinguishably Irish but the word ‘craic’ is borrowed from the Scots, even referenced in Robert Burns.

Before making its way over the Irish Sea to the Ulster Scots.

What’s most important though is where to find it.

The simplest answer is: every day on the streets of Dublin.

But here are a few pubs where it’s in great supply.

O’Donoghues, Merrion Row http://www.odonoghues.ie

Where The Dubliners, Ireland’s most famous folk band were formed and where you can still hear the best trad music.

Mary’s Bar & Hardware, Wicklow Street http://www.marysbar.ie.

It’s something of a country thing, a multi-purpose business, Mary’s doubling up with WOWBURGER upstairs.

And you can have a beer and a burger. And then downstairs again for another, and some live music.

The Workshop, George’s Quay http://www.theworkshopgastropub.com

I admit a vested interest here… my cousins run The Workshop On George’s Quay looking out on to the Liffey.

It’s the one with the squirrel mural and it’s handily placed next to Tara Street DART (train) station.

Which I and generations knew as Kennedys.

It has transferred itself into a gastropub in response to our changing tastes and how it does taste.

With the most beautifully presented and sumptuous dishes.

Get some food in you

Chai high

It may be in the national psyche because of the Potato Famine. Irish people are obsessed with food and can talk for hours on the subject.

I have been lucky enough to be wined and dined in a few..,

Chapter One, Parnell Square http://www.chapteronerestaurant.com

Dublin is not short of Michelin-starred restaurants and Chapter One is my pick.

Don’t ask to have your steak done ‘your way’ as an amateur diner posited unless you want a dismissive, lip-curling look from your waiter.

You’ll agree though when you eat it.

Chai Yo Teppanyaki, Baggot Street Lower http://www.chaiyo.ie

Teppanyaki at its best as it should be as it’s the venue for the annual Wendy Wu brochure launch.

And Wendy. Queen of Asian high-end Travel, should know.

All the Teppanyaki dishes are served with soup, fried rice and mixed vegetables.

I often go for the Chef’s Special as I reckon they know best.

King Prawns, Chicken Teriyaki and Fillet Steak. I’m stuffed. Oh, go on them.

Pizza Yard, Sanford Road, Ranelagh http://www.pizzayard.ie

When you’ve been cycling through town on one of those multi-cycle party trucks (and do) then you’ll get a hunger up.

Just as well then that we got to stop off at Pizza Yard where they will slap down a two-yard long pizza on the table.

Of course I went for the al funghi (with mushrooms). Wash it down with Italian lager.

A little local knowledge

My kind of mess

The Hugh Lane Gallery http://www.hughlane.ie

Messier than any student bedsit.

But it was that organised chaos that inspired artist Francis Bacon.

So when he died he bequeathed that his studio be recreated back in his native Dublin.

But skip…

The Book of Kellls, Trinity College http://www.tcd.ie

Maybe because I’d been dragged along to see the ancient scripts when I was a kid.

But I remember the queues being long and I couldn’t understand any of it.

And finally

Don’t say ‘Top of the mornin’ ’

Do say: ‘What’s the craic?’

Really, this is finally. And my favourite hotel in Dublin https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-intercontinental-what-a-ledge/.

And if you love Ireland like I love Ireland then how about Thirteen years an Irishman – My five Irish homes.