Tag Archives: Ireland

EPIC Ireland – A Journey of A People – A Museum Reviewed

My trip to Ireland’s newest Museum – courtesy of EPIC Ireland.

When I told a few friends I was planning a visit to the Irish Diaspora museum

EPIC Ireland – A Journey of A People

I got some typical Irish begrudging reactions. “That’s just for American tourists” and similar views.

Well begrudgers, you can eat that begrudgery followed by  humble pie. EPIC Ireland doesn’t just live up to its name but redefines the whole museum experience. It delivers history through deft use of 21st Century technology while mixing sparse and thoughtful design in the CHQ building which has a cool history all of its own.


When you descend into EPIC you are greeted with a charming ‘passport’ to the Irish Diaspora Museum. I see this being embraced by the generations of schoolchildren who will pass though the museum. We are told to stamp our passport (which doubles as a handy map) in each room.


At the entrance you are greeted with columns of dazzling colour and a video of an incoming tide splashed up against the 200 year old walls of the CHQ building’s lower level. The lights are low and this creates a fittingly eerie atmosphere.


When I think of the Irish diaspora two time periods spring to mind; the mid to late 1800s and the 1960s – 80s. But EPIC, (living up to its name) charts many of the reasons, some of the journeys and many of the kinds of people who left throughout the history of our country from 500 A.D. to our present century.


Within the ancient walls the designers have considerately fashioned a theme for each room that suits the information being relayed. The first three rooms chart the journey from Ireland to the various countries that my ancestors found refuge. It then proceeds to focus on the descendants of those people who left and the impact they had on those countries.


EPIC untangles hundreds of their stories at the touch of multiple screens and audio experiences. There are stories of bravery, of hope, despair, creativity, achievement in many spheres, infamy, deception, even cross-dressing and much more. These stories are from both the Irish who first arrived on the shores of their new worlds and in subsequent room the stories of their descendants.


EPIC delivers a refreshing balance as we hear the positive aspects of our Irish History standing shoulder to shoulder with the negative ones.



There are also a number of amusing quizzes to take which proves that EPIC is not without a sense of humour.


One of the many highlights of the tour was reading the scanned letters that Irish immigrants had sent home.  Seeing a digital image of the original letters and reading the words of these ordinary people brought me closer to the struggles of the original Irish Diaspora.


I could go on but I don’t want to spoil the experience any further. I spent three and a half hours there and could have spent the same amount of time again and still not taken in everything it has to offer.


One more thing, don’t forget to look at the floors.



This Museum goes to Eleven.




Irish Film Trivia Round 11

They were the first Filmmaking Father and Daughter to be nominated for an Oscar for the same film, which Irish family are we talking about?


Which Irish television series was mentioned in the movie Once as how one of the characters learned to speak English?


In 1961 President Eamon de Valera, who said in his speech: “Never before was there in the hands of men an instrument so powerful to influence the thoughts and actions of the multitude.” What was he talking about?


The daughter of which Irish front man appeared in This Must be the Place?


Which 2012 Irish made film begins with the lines “My story can never be told. I write it over and over, wherever we find shelter. I write of what I cannot speak: the truth. I write all I know of it, then I throw that pages to the wind. Maybe the birds can read it.”?

Guess The Film

He was part of a comedy duo, has appeared in a number of highly successful Irish television comedies and played it straight and tragic in Garage, who are we talking about?


Which Irish Actor was offered a role as the first Doctor Who (1962)


Which 2007 Irish television series was a spin-off from “Adam & Paul” (2004)?


Which Irish actor/writer/producer currently enjoying success and television and movies is quoted as saying “I’ve always been conscious of the fact that there aren’t enough Irish voices on British television compared to the amount of Irish people who live there.”

Guess The Film

For which British sketch show did Graham Linehan begin his comedy writing career?



(scroll down for answers)
















Jim and Kirsten Sheridan were the first filmmaking father and daughter to be nominated for Oscars the same film for In America.

Fair City was mentioned in Once.

Eamon De Valera spoke those word about the opening of RTE on New Year’s Eve of that year.

Eve Hewson, Bono’s daughter was in This Must Be the Place.

Saoirse Ronan speak these words at the beginning of Byzantium. 

Pat Shortt played it straight in Garage.

Cyril Cusack turned down the role as the First Doctor Who.

Prosperity was the television spin off of Adam & Paul (both written by Mark O’Halloran and both directed by Lenny Abrahamson).

Chris O’Dowd said those words about the Irish in the UK

Graham Linehan first wrote for Alas Smith and Jones.


Thanks you for reading!

If you enjoyed those here are more rounds…

Irish Film Trivia

Irish Film Trivia Round 2

Irish Film Trivia Round 3

Irish Film Trivia Round 4

Irish Film Trivia Round 5

Irish Film Trivia Round 6

Irish Film Trivia Round 7

Irish Film Trivia Round 8

Irish Film Trivia Round 9

Irish Film Trivia Round 10

Dalkey Island – A Short History and Some Memories

Mum stood beside me in the garden on a summer’s day and shouted at my brother, “Your cousin is on the phone.” We could just about make him out passing the church on Dalkey Island. He shouted back, “Tell him where we are.”


We were lucky enough to grow up in a house that backed onto to the sea. Our childhoods moved to the rhythm of the current of Dalkey Sound and standing 300 metres away was Dalkey Island which became an extension of our back garden.

I was in my early teens when I really began to appreciate that where I lived in Ireland was special and that appreciation kept growing until even after I had left the house and past the date when my parents retired and sold our family home.


Last week I counted all of my fingers and five of my toes only to realise that it had been fifteen years since had set foot on the island. A renewed Dalkey Island ferry had recently begun operating again after a three year absence so I decided to do my bit for local tourism. I made the call, bought water and a roll from Thyme Out in Dalkey and headed down to Coliemore Harbour.

We crossed the sound like the mesolithic and neolithic people who first made the trip with the stark difference that Ken Cunningham’s Dalkey Island ferry was not a carved out log nor was it a skin boat. It is sturdy, equipped with fenders and life preservers.


I have made this trip many times, rowing, canoeing, or under the power of an old and tiny seagull engine. I wrote an essay for my final school exams based around the Sound, whose currents are deceptively treacherous.

Before Dalkey was christened the sea levels were not as high as they are today and its early inhabitants would have been able to walk between Dalkey Island and Lamb Island (directly to its North) without fear of getting wet feet.

I spend my childhood summers in soggy sea-salted sneakers slipping with (and sometimes without) skill from rockpool to seaweed covered rock.


We landed on the new concrete jetty. I tried to start arranging my return journey but Ken either vaguely remembered my face or just trusted me.

“I’ll see you”.


I’m back on the Island, I have no claim to it besides the one that is in my heart, my Island. I passed the site of the promontory fort which overlooks the landing pier where Ancient Roman relics were found. But no evidence of the breakfast our family ate sometime in the 1970s remains apart from a few faded photos and crisp memories.

We have the Vikings to thank for the name of the town as it sounds today. The old Irish name for the Island was Deilg Inis meaning Thorn Island, due to its shape. While the meaning remained the same the name was changed to Dalk-Ei by the Vikings but before they arrived Christianity had already taken root evidenced by St. Begnat’s Church (11th century) which now stands stubbornly roofless. There is archaeological evidence that a wooden church may have been erected on the site as far back at the 7th century.


I can see my old house from  here. No joke.

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(click images to enlarge)

Once the Viking raiders had taken control they gave the Irish a severe beating.

One of the earliest mentions of the area refers to an incident they were involved in at Dalkey Sound.

“Coibhdeanach, Abbot of Cill-achaidh, was drowned in the sea of

Delginis-cualann while fleeing from the foreigners.”


Throughout most of its history the island remain uninhabited but for a few occasions. It was home to slaves in the Viking era and (twice recorded) used as a refuge, once in 942 when the Vikings fled there after losing a battle in Dublin and again in 1575 when there was an outbreak of The Plague.


My younger self took refuge here on more than one occasion. Slipping over on a Summer’s night armed with the warmth of friendship for our hearts, campfires for our bodies, and alcohol for our veins. We always left the place as clean as nature had intended. 


The deep waters of the Dalkey Sound meant that ships could navigate its waters safely and Dalkey became a point for the unloading of goods. The town prospered in the 15th and 16th centuries.


The Martello Tower crowns the Island in a reminder that the British Army were stood up by Napoleon in the 1800s. I was expecting it to be barred but the spirit of my childhood was working in my favour and the rusty gate lay wide open.


By the time I had heaved myself up to the entrance, on a second attempt, the shadows of my teenage years taunted me and I could almost hear their echoes coming back down the winding stone stairwell.


Two real teenagers followed behind interested in what was currently living in its festering bowels.

I remember that interest. Rat infested, ankle-breaking, and rusty-malodourous-tetanus-territory. I declined to tell them I had explored it in detail when I was their age.

They shuddered and continued up the stairs.


I showed them the design of the tower’s ‘windows’.

One that views the harbour.


The other that looks out on the church.


We continued the short climb.


The best view. Bray, Killiney Bay, Dalkey Sound and the coastline beyond.  Here I brought family, friends and girlfriends (real and a few unsuccessful potentials).





Around a dozen or so British soldiers would have lived here preparing for Napoleon’s no show.  By day during the summer what a wonderful station but it is a different story even standing for a few minutes in the middle of a cold and wet winter’s night. 


The crumbling Gun Battery (built at the same time as the tower) stands low at the south end of the island. It is an ancient and perilous playground, a perfect gift to my young self who had skirted the exterior trying to get to the highest points with a speed I dared not match today. Interior walls still stand framing its history. There was no fear of the easy eventuality of losing limb or life back then.

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(click images to enlarge)

Sadly I saw nothing of the Goats who have been the Island’s longest non avian inhabitants so I carefully picked my way down to the shoreline at the southern end.

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Then I crept up toward where the seagulls hang out. They eyed me suspiciously but I managed not to scare them into the air. I climbed back up to a ridge and found better place to get a shot of the rock that lies to the East the Island, the Muglins, which has had a beacon or a lighthouse on it since 1879 after a recorded thirteen ships had foundered on this stretch of Islands and rocks.

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(click images to enlarge)

I returned to the northern end of the Island. The exercise of trying to recapture my youth on a warm and close day had  produced an astonishing effect. It was as if the Island itself had breathed life into my clothes. They seemed to want to to make an intimate inspection of the sand.


I found myself walking into the inviting water of the shallow beach armed only with my boxer shorts to defended my modesty from a bunch of kayakers who had just arrived from the mainland.


It was one of the nicest swims I have ever taken. I left the water refreshed and with only an ill-equipped fleece to dry myself. The garment lived up to those expectations. I dressed damply and found a rock just beneath the church where I sat and ate my roll. The seat of my jeans soaked up the salty sea water. All the while Ken the Ferryman went about his business.


As it turned out the kayakers were from Kayaking.ie and headed by the more than capable Jenny Kilbride (another way to get to the island if you feel like a paddle).

After lunch I took a few more photos from the end of the pier and as I was looking up Ken’s number I was interrupted by a voice.

“Did you call me?”

Ken motored quietly beside me.  He had seen me as promised.


My appreciation of where I grew up will continue to grow past the end of this blog and will only end when the tide makes its last retreat from my life. I will be forever grateful to my parents for choosing such an idyllic place for us to grow up.

I left the Island with a rejuvenated spirit and somewhere deep inside me my younger self smiled.


There is more to learn and about the rich History of Dalkey Island here. I have only included the highlights.

Details of Dalkey Island Ferry.

And Kayaking.ie here

Grab a sandwich at Thyme Out in Dalkey before you go!



Bringing Disc Golf to Ireland

My first introduction to Disc Golf was over the phone with my brother just under 20 years  ago.

“Disc Golf.”


“Disc. Golf.” he repeated slowly.

“What do you mean by discs.” Confusion.

“Discs, like Frisbees.” he was getting slightly irritated.

“Oh, Frisbee Golf” Clarity?

“Yes but they call it Disc Golf” it had been a short conversation and he was already sounding tired.

“What sort of clubs do you use?” I asked.

“You don’t use clubs just different types of discs, drivers and putters.” He explained

“And no ball” I asked hopefully

“No, Ben, no ball, you have to get the discs into the holes but the holes are called baskets.” the tiredness in his voice was there again.

So the long and the short of it is that you throw these discs (e.g. Drivers, Mid-Range and Putters)


Into these Holes or Baskets.


A few months later I was standing in a beautiful and forested park in Portland, Oregon holding a bunch of discs. It was a cold 8 o’clock in the morning. My first couple of attempts at understanding the flight of the drivers was suspect. But after only a few holes I began to get the gist. After nine holes I was eager to do more.


18 holes later I noticed that I had cut my thenar space (the webbed skin between your thumb and index finger) but I didn’t want to stop playing so my brother suggested I try underarm. After a few disastrous flights, flurries of leaves, broken branches, and multiple shouts of ‘fore’ I began to get the hang of the underarm style.

If you enjoy throwing a Frisbee but never liked catching them and enjoy walks in a forest then you will soon get the hang of disc golf.

But there is a catch. No courses exist in Ireland. So my brother made an attempt to bring the game to Ireland. On a holiday in 2006 he got as far as having meetings with the Dublin Parks Superintendent, Dublin County Council, Limerick Parks and County Council, Coillte, Private landowners in Counties Dublin, Wicklow and Limerick, members of the Irish Sports Council and finally the then Minister of Sport at the time Martin Cullen.

Each time he sparked a great deal of interest and potential sites were discussed but in the end nobody was prepared to back the idea financially.  Eventually, partly due to frustration at the bureaucracy he was encountering and the fact that he lived in Portland, Oregon, he threw in the towel and gave up on his dream.

But now there is a new champion of the game in Ireland. My brother has been in contact with him and they have made more progress.

There is a very real chance that we shall soon see the first Irish Disc Golf Course.

If you are interested in finding out more about the route to Disc Golf in Ireland you can follow their Facebook page here…   Disc Golf Ireland


As of April 2014 Disc Golf Ireland have received a grant from the Professional Disc Golf Association. This funding will be put towards Ireland’s first disc golf course. They have also found an ideal location for Ireland’s first course.

But they need more funding so if you have a few euro to spare please donate here.

Ireland v New Zealand November 2013 – View from a Couch

If you are expecting a detailed analysis of the match you will not find it here. I may know what a forward pass means but most of the rest of the technical rules of rugby still evade me, why they choose a line out instead of a scrum or where and what a player can do when they are trying to turn an opposing member over etc. is a mystery. Nevertheless it has not stopped me attending Irish Rugby Internationals and watching many, many more on television. 


I tuned in last Sunday with much apprehension.  It is always a joy to watch the historically formidable All Blacks in action, though usually easier to watch them playing against other nations. As always the pundits were cagily in favour of the New Zealand warriors without sounding to negative.

Almost from the starting whistle there was something different in the air. The Irish team were tight, the ball flowed from Greenshirt to Greenshirt, and less than 5 mins in we were 7 nil up on the All Blacks, unbelievable, 10  minutes in we were 14-0 over the All Blacks. The backlash was expected.

My eyes had never seen an Irish team looking better. The mistakes were gone, they were not giving the New Zealand players any room to manoeuvre. Though they managed to get one try in before half time, we also managed another. Still no backlash.

While the crowd were behind the team, Ryle Nugent was beginning to sound like a castrati, and collectively we were beginning to dare to believe but there was one man who, for a brief moment, showed us that he was seeing more clearly than the rest of us.

At 19-7 ahead and with a few seconds gone over the first 40 minutes the ball was kicked into the Irish half. All they need to do was kick it to touch and the Greenshirts were to get a well earned breather. Instead it lands into the arms of Brian O’Driscoll. Did he try to kick it to touch? No, he had his sights set on the distant New Zealand line. He remembered something that the rest of us in our excitement had all but forgotten. They were the All Blacks and we needed to get as far from their score as we possibly could. But within seconds he was tackled and the whistle blew.

Half time 19-7. Giddyness.

On another day we might even have been somewhat pleased to have kept the score  7-19 to the All Blacks.

The second half was as good, it was the New Zealand team who began to make mistakes and for the first time in my life they looked almost ordinary. We extended our score to 22 and then the All Blacks began to creep up and the backlash arrived, not with the usual force but the effect was almost worse than a 60-0 defeat. I cannot bring myself to describe the heart breaking fall from one of the loftiest heights the Irish team have probably ever suffered in their history.

But all I can say about this Irish team is that they were beautiful to watch, playing with more passion, coherence and fluidity and less faults than ever before.

They should be prouder of this loss than many of their other wins put together.

If they can keep this momentum going they shouldn’t lose another game for a very long time.

Alternative Activities for Arthur’s Day

If you don’t want to go to the pub on September 26th you could celebrate…

World Maritime Day: Put on a life jacket and watch Titanic.

Dublin Theatre Festival: First preview for Brecht & Weill’s The Threepenny Opera, at The Gate Theatre*. The musical play without which we wouldn’t have Cabaret, Chicago, Evita etc.

New Ross Piano Festival: Watch 20 young piano students play the grand piano for sheer fun!

Olivia Newton John’s Birthday: Watch Grease for the 100th time.

Dunshaughlin Harvest Festival: Take part in their intriguingly named Blackboard Ramblings.

Tape your favourite soap for a week and watch the omnibus you have created.

Bord Gais Energy Theatre : Get tickets to Heartbeat of Home, the latest offering from the Riverdance producers, and watch a whole new crew of young dancers lepping about on stage.

Linda Hamilton’s Birthday: Watch Terminator and Terminator 2 back to back.

T.S. Eliot’s birthday: Cat owners could settle down with your furry friend and read them Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.

And Finally…

Brew a pot of tea, invite a few friends over, and solve the world’s problems around the kitchen table (bring biscuits).

What are you going to do?

*The previews for The Threepenny Opera at The Gate on the 26th are sold out 🙂

Irish Cinema Releases February 2013

For those of you who still manage to go to the cinema!

Here are some of the films opening this month around the country.

(These are as up to date as I could muster but may be subject to last minute changes)

All posters have tags and are links.

February 1st

February 8th

February 14

February 17th

February 21st

February 22

Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters

Check out your local cinemas at these links from where you can navigate to most cinemas in the country.





Info gathered from www.imdb.com www.iftn.ie and www.entertainment.ie