Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Have to admit that i'm not the biggest fan of Musicals. The emergence of Glee has only cemented this opinion so when I was offered two tickets to Hairspray...only the threat of being single again forced my hand.
So what did I think? Well the Grand Canal Theatre is very impressive. I know the guys in the hotel have been raving about it for months but some of them were also raving about do the maths. But OMG...what a venue...what an area.
Dublin has undergone a sea change since (don't mention the Celtic Tiger)...well a while ago. But the Grand Canal Square area really is a beautiful addition to the city. Stunning buildings, some of which look like complex logo land structures, surrounded by restaurants. It was a good start as i made my way into the show.
The theatre itself is a fine building, all shapes and corners. One of the things I hate about theatre is the standard of seats that you get...obstructed views...big heads in front of you. There is nothing of that in the Grand Canal Theatre. Spacious, air-conditioned and stunningly red.
To my surprise the rest of the audience looked normal...not that there is a typical musical loving person look but it was a good start nonetheless. Oh and I was on an aisle seat which helped.
So the show. Before I start I have to confirm that I've never seen the movie...any of the movies...for reasons I've already mentioned, so I had no idea what to expect other than the distant memory of Michelle Pfeiffer and John Travolta in the trailer of the 2007 movie adaption.
A cross-dressing Michael Ball (slightly disturbing image) apart, this was a bit of craic. Performances were for the most part excellent, even if vocals are occasionally strained...I'm no Simon Cowell, but in particular the villains who are a little grating on the ear.
Now don't get me wrong I haven't morphed into a Musical junkie, but my eyes have been opened a little. Mamma Mia is coming to the Grand Canal Theatre on the 4th of October next year and I've already got my ticket...I've always been a bit partial to Sweedish pop...Oh! and I'm going to Scrooge.

I'll report back.

Ollie McGrath (OMG).

Monday, November 22, 2010


So the IMF have arrived and our lovely island nation is front page news across the globe with headlines screaming..."humiliation"..."Ireland Bailed Out"...etc.

I don't think that people from outside Ireland realise that we've been reading/listening to recession/depression/bail out/IMF stories for years now. The IMF's coup is like a weight off our shoulders. It's like we've finally come out of the closet. Our little dirty secret.

If I hear anything else about Good Banks/Bad markets...interest rates...I'm going to scream...please SHUT UP. I've made a conscious not to listen to the radio or read the newspaper today because I'm sick of it.

How about a good radio station and a bad radio station...a good newspaper and a bad newspaper. Change the record please. We've had enough of bad news. Dublin is open for business.

The hotel was buzzing on the weekend and we even had George Hook and Brent Pope in entertaining the masses with RTE...George even managed to stay awake this time. The hotel is full for most of the week...granted that could be thanks to the thousands of journalists that are hear to cover our fall from grace.

I could still afford me few pints last night, bought meself the usual cup of tasty coffee from Marta in the Coffee Dock and even arranged to go and see Harry Potter during the week.

I was in London last week and I had people coming up to me commiserating and offering their if I can't feed the kids. It reminds me of the height of the troubles when American visitors to Dublin were genuinely surprised not to see tanks patrolling O'Connell Street.

For people looking to visit Dublin or Ireland in the near future know this...there has never been a better time to come here. Drink, food, entertainment are all cheaper and most importantly we've got our sense of humour back. Being the rich kids of Europe didn't suit us anyway.

So take some advice from Ollie. No more talk of recession/depression etc. Dublin is open for business.

Ollie McGrath (OMG)

Thursday, November 4, 2010


IRELAND has surpassed Paris as the top holiday destination for 2011 in a global poll by a prestigious tourist guide.

Almost a third of readers of Frommer's guide books chose Ireland as their favourite holiday destination for next year -- narrowly beating the City of Lights as the readers' favourite.

Some 7,300 voters chose Ireland over other tourist hotspots including Egypt, Hawaii, Australia, Italy, Greece, Alaska, New Zealand and Germany.

Visitors cited the landscape, ancient attractions and the overall beauty of the Emerald Isle as their main reasons.

"I love being out in the country, rambling around, exploring megalithic sites, having tea in small shops," said a reader.

"Beer, castles, lush landscapes, small enough to explore via bicycle or car," were the reasons given by another reader.

The stronger US dollar and a drastic reduction in the price of food and lodgings last year were also among the reasons cited.

But Ireland didn't make the guide's Top Destinations list for 2011, which is compiled by the guide's writers and editors.

The coastline of Kent in England was top of the 12 chosen destinations for next year, followed by Stockholm, Sweden and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

But the guide lavished praise on many of Ireland's natural attractions.

Frommer's editorial director David Lytle said Ireland should be proud of what the country has to offer visitors.

"Ireland has always been a very popular destination for our readers. There are people who go there again, and again and again," he told the Irish Independent last night.

"It's a storybook destination for people and it's very accessible," he said.

Despite its popularity, Irish tourism suffered one of its worst years in 2009 with an 11.6pc decrease in overseas visits. Figures for 2010 have not yet been released.

Article curtsey's of

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Fantastic news theatre lovers...our friends over in the Grand Canal Theatre are brining the world famous smash hit musical to Dublin in 2012.

Seen by millions across the globe Dirty Dancing, tells the classic story of Baby and Johnny, two fiercely independent young spirits from different worlds, who come together in what will be the most challenging and triumphant summer of their lives. Dirty Dancing is told by a tremendous cast of 37 and featuring 35 hit songs, including Hungry Eyes, Hey Baby, Do You Love Me? and the heart stopping I've Had The Time Of My Life.

The show kicks off on the 17th of January 2012 and runs right through till the 25th of February.

Now that might seem a distance off but i was talking to the lovely ladies in the box office and they tell me that tickets are ALREADY selling very fast.

But fear not. We have put together a package for people hoping to attend the show. As with all our theatre packages...enjoy a pre-show meal, ticket to the show, night's accommodation and full Irish breakfast the following morning from just €109pps.

Click here to make your booking or for more informatio.


We don't mean to be harping on about value in Dublin, but when a newspaper giant such as the Financial Times picks up on it...then there must be some truth in it.

Check it out....

Many of the costs associated with doing business in Ireland at the tail end of 2010 are now considerably lower for the business traveller than they have been for many years.

According to the latest figures from, the average price of a hotel room in Ireland dropped 21 per cent last year and a further 4 per cent in the first half of this year. Although the decline in prices is slowing, the average room rate of €79 ($110) a night makes Ireland the least expensive destination in western Europe and the fourth-cheapest in the eurozone.

Dublin is now one of the least expensive major city destinations in the world, according to, with an average room rate of €73 a night.

All the big international chains are represented in the capital and around the country, including Marriott, Conrad and the Four Seasons.

There are also quite a few boutique hotels, offering a more individual twist to the “hundred thousand” Irish welcomes.


Dublin is sadly short of historic hotels – most of them fell victim to the developers’ wrecking ball in the 1970s. To the south of the river Liffey the Shelbourne Hotel, founded in 1824, has long been the destination of choice for many of the business community.

The Horseshoe Bar, once voted by Time magazine as one of the best in the world, was where Celtic tigers quenched their thirst during the boom years. One disgruntled wag defined it as “a place where women with a past met men with no future”. Those seeking “the relics of old decency” will be well looked after here.

Just a block away, the Merrion offers old world charm in a set of Georgian buildings overlooking the prime minister’s office. The Cellar Bar offers a good lunch for those in a hurry. These atmospheric rooms are the old kitchens and wine cellars of Mornington House, where the Duke of Wellington was born. The hotel also houses the Michelin-starred Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud.

The Conrad, on Earlsfort Terrace, is also centrally located. It is favoured by regular business visitors for the high quality of its service and the fact that many of the friendly staff have been there for years. It has also been the home for 12 years of one resident Irish businessman known for his exacting standards. The Conrad has, therefore, been put to the test by some of the most discerning patrons.

Off Grafton Street, the capital’s trendy shopping street, the Westbury offers city-centre luxury in a more modern setting. Its Marble Bar is a discreet first-floor watering hole favoured by early evening tipplers.

Elsewhere in the country, Cork is well served by a wide variety of quality hotels, but Hayfield Manor near the university is by far the most stylish. The hotel is set in the former estate of the Musgraves, one of the city’s leading merchant prince families. The restaurant offers some of the best seafood in Cork. It is a haven of tranquillity yet within walking distance of the city centre.

North of Cork on the west coast, lies Limerick. Its Savoy hotel is centrally located and offers impeccable service in the heart of the business district. A short drive from Limerick, Adare Manor, once the seat of the Earls of Dunraven, offers golfing and spa facilities in a historic setting.

Further up the west coast, Galway, the “City of the Tribes”, has one of the most vibrant cultural scenes in Ireland. A favourite haunt of the racing set and home to the Galway Oyster Festival, the city has the hotel infrastructure to go with all of that. The SAS Radisson is much favoured by the racing set. The Meyrick on Eyre Square is a former grand railway hotel offering Victorian elegance and modern service.


Many Irish restaurants have dropped their prices by as much as 40 per cent in the past year or so. Rather like the absence of old hotels, restaurants with a pedigree are thin on the ground in Dublin. One exception is the Unicorn, which has been going since 1943. Offering primarily Italian cuisine with a modern twist, this is a favourite with politicians and businessmen. It is a good place to spot visiting theatre and film stars who, when working in Dublin, inevitably end up using the Unicorn as their base.

Peploe’s, on St Stephen’s Green, is named after the Scottish painter Samuel John Peploe and has established a firm reputation as one of Dublin’s top dining spots. Converted from an old safety deposit vault, it is atmospheric and has a charming wine bar with its own menu as well as more sustaining choices in the main restaurant. Lunch and dinner usually find Peploe’s full of business diners. For business travellers with an interest in military history, the wonderful menu covers are the art work of Melinda Patton, a descendant of General George Patton.

Town Bar and Grill, on Kildare Street, is a short distance from the national parliament and the museum district. Located in charming old wine cellars, the restaurant has a loyal clientele. It serves superb fresh fish, meat and pasta dishes. At weekends, it has a resident piano player.

Cork’s gastronomic accolade must go to Jacque’s, now one of the longest established restaurants in the city. It aims to showcase the best of County Cork’s fresh produce in a modern environment and achieves this aim splendidly. It is conveniently located near the Imperial Hotel and the South Mall in the heart of the business district.

Just a short journey down the coast is Kinsale, which is known as Ireland’s gastronomic capital. It offers an extensive selection of seafood restaurants in an idyllic coastal setting.


James Joyce once set a challenge: to cross the city of Dublin without passing a pub. It is of course a near impossible task. In the city centre it is worth sampling Doheny & Nesbitt’s on Baggot Street. The business traveller will note that this local is credited with having its own school of economics, surely a world first. Nearby on Merrion Row, O’Donoghue’s is famous for live sessions of traditional Irish music.

In Cork, the local brew is Murphy’s Stout and anyone seeking the authentic pub experience must head for Counihan’s of Pembroke Street. Downstairs offers an old Cork pub atmosphere, while upstairs is somewhat trendier.


The National Museum in Dublin is centrally located and boasts a fabulous collection of Celtic gold artefacts.

The National Library, which always has an interesting literary exhibition, is located just opposite.

Behind these two institutions is the National Gallery, which houses collections of Irish and international art including a relatively recently discovered Caravaggio. The Chester Beatty Library (really a museum) at Dublin Castle is the jewel in the cultural crown, housing one of the world’s greatest collections of Oriental artefacts.

Cork plays host to a major jazz festival every October and an International Film Festival in November. The Crawford Gallery and the Lewis Glucksman Gallery between them cover the fine arts comprehensively.

Limerick’s Hunt Museum holds the nucleus of a private collection from the Neolithic age to the 20th century.

The sporting life is one of Ireland’s treasured activities. Golfing facilities are world class, including Ryder Cup host, the elegant K Club in County Kildare.

Ireland does not have a foxhunting ban and visitors are always made welcome by masters of Irish hunts, where a modest cap fee secures a day’s riding to hounds in the countryside.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2010. You may share using our article tools. Please don't cut articles from and redistribute by email or post to the web.