Friday, October 7, 2011


It has become one of the most iconic reminders of our embarassing past. The image the shell of what was to be Anglo Irish Bank's new headquarters has fronted many a newspaper around the globe as a representation of the collapse of the Celtic Tigers...but a number of very interesting proposals, including a "Vertical Park" could transform the eye sore.

A radical proposal is being made to transform the concrete skeleton on Dublin’s North Wall Quay into a park in time for the centenary of the 1916 Rising.

A Dublin architecture firm is seeking a licence to develop the seven-acre site on behalf of the people of Ireland to put in place a landmark on the Liffey Quays that would nurture sustainable vision-making and proclaim a new future.

It sounds like a wonderful plan...if it goes ahead. A good example of how successful such a development could be can be seen in New York, where an disused railway line was turned into a park and has since become one of the most visited attractions in the city.

Developed by Mahoney Architecture, the Trees on the Quays group is seeking support from the Dublin Docklands Development Authority, Dublin City Council and – most of all – Nama. “If we get heads of agreement with Nama that the site would be made available for, say, 10 years, that would be a big step forward,” Mr Mahoney told The Irish Times.

The licence would need to be made available free for the proposal to succeed. He added: “Even a tiny fraction of the Irish diaspora would create a huge fund to develop this project and there would also be enormous benefits for nearby buildings, such as the convention centre and O2.

Inspiration came from Dutch architects MVRVD’s Netherlands pavilion at Expo 2000 in Hanover, which featured trees growing at different levels, and the High Line in New York City, where an abandoned elevated railway was turned into a linear park.

The Trees on the Quays group proposes a similar vision, re-imagining Anglo Irish Bank’s concrete structure as a multilevel city park – with its floorplates punched out to make room for trees and the resulting rubble reused to form a hill alongside.

I for one think it is a fantastic idea and one that the city planners should embrace with open arms. The city is dotted with statues of great figures in Irish history who inspire the next generation of Irish people, so why not use this shell as a reminder, an inspiration and most importantly...a lesson to the future.

Sure aren't we the kings of packages; we can put together a package for visitors coming to Dublin to have a pre-parkviewing meal, return transfer and night's accommodation...that one could catch on!!!

Monday, September 26, 2011


I was delighted to hear the announcement that Harbour Flights have been given a licence to operate a seaplanes out of Dublin City Center.

At a time when the economy is in the dog house, it is brilliant to see individuals coming up with new ideas to do business. When I first read the plan for air taxis I was very sceptical, but a seaplane landing right in the heart of Ireland's major tourist and cultural hubs is genius...and a very welcomed addition to the tourism industry.

Harobour Flights hope to fly to Limerick, Cork, Belfast, Waterford, Aran Island, Lough Derg and, naturally, considering it is the home of the seaplane, Foynes, with the Dublin flights landing at Poolbeg (not far from the hotel).

The seaplanes will seat up to nine people with flight times taking less than 50 minutes to any of the destinations. A particular boost to tourists will be the link with the Aran Islands, which can take up to 6 hours to get to from Dublin. Harbour flights will make it possible to fly to the islands in less than an hour.

Initially, Harbour Flights will be operating a Cessna 172 and a Cessna 206 but by year two they hope to add a Cessna 208 to the fleet and by the third year, a 19 seat De Havilland Twin Otter.

And the cost? We're told customers will pay between €50 and €150 one way for the journey. There is a lot to be said for walking the 10 minutes to the Liffey and then jumping on a plane and landing in Galway Bay 30 minutes later. The company are also looking for a 25 minute turn around time at each destination. No check in; no queues and no taxis.

I really hope it works out for Harbour Flights CEO Emelyn Heaps and all his staff. I'll be looking forward to taking a trip myself...I wonder if the Grand Canal Hotel would accept it as an expense...worth a try!!!

Ollie McGrath

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


I was a bit sceptical when the notion of renting bikes in Dublin was mooted a number of years ago.
As a Dubliner who's had his fair share of bicycles stolen you have to forgive my cynical view that the thieving gits who so skilfully removed my prised possessions would be able to refrain from doing the same to Dublin City Councils hundreds of bikes...easy pickings me thought.
But I stand corrected. It has turned out to a master stroke by the City Council. The numbers below attest to the fact that not only have the visitors and natives embraced Dublinbikes but the would be robbers either can't figure out how to rob them or just feel that they are way too uncool for them to rob.
Either way, we are all benefiting from them. My only gripe at this stage is that we don't have a bike station outside the hotel. With Google and BT, to name just two, having big offices across the road, surely The Grand Canal Hotel would be the perfect location for a bike depot.
I'm half tempted to start a Facebook campaign.

Anyway...the DublinBikes in numebrs:
2,527,435 – The total number of journeys that have been taken on DublinBikes.
550 – The number of bikes that are currently in use.
44 – The amount of bike stations that are located across the city.
6,280 – The number of journeys taken on July 13 this year, the busiest day ever for the scheme.
25,000 – The number of short-term subscriptions taken by cyclists.
67 – The percentage of long-term users that are men.
95 – The percentage of Dubliners who said the scheme is the “best thing” to happen in the city in a recent survey.
13 – The time, in minutes, of the average journey on a DublinBike.
97 – The percentage of journeys which are free because they last less than 30 minutes.
9.8 - The average number of times a bike is rented in one day.

Click here to see where the DublinBike stations are located

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


I promised my two year old son that I'd bring him to see the dinosaurs...thinking we'd head into see the Dinosaur Petting Zoo in the RDS...but I got my dates wrong!!!
It had finished last month. But fear not, I though to myself...I'd bring him to the Natural History Museum opposite Merrion Square...they have dinosaurs there. I remembered them from when I was a kid...problem solved.

The little man was all excited and dully woke me at 6.30 Saturday morning asking when he was going to see the "dinarsssus". Great start to the day!!!
Breakfast downed, bags packed, bob the builder doll in tow we all jumped in the car and made our way to the City Centre.

As any visitor to Dublin will know, the city is very compact and you can technically walk to most of the major attractions without breaking a sweat...the problem with Dublin is that it rains...even when the sun is splitting the I forgot to my displeasure.

A pleasant surprise at the is free, as is a lot of the attractions in Dublin visitors will be happy to hear. Also known as the "Dead Zoo" the museum first opened its doors in 1857 and boasts over 10,000 exhibits...but as I was soon to find out NO dinarsssus!!! I must have made up that memory. More of that later.

The first thing that greets you, aside from a shop, is the Giant Irish Deer who roamed the Irish Landscape up until around 12,000 years ago. Truly huge animals as they are, my son was not fooled...they were not dinarsssus.

He was, as was I, very impressed with all the stuffed sharks, birds, squirrel that were literally stacked in presses and displays on the ground floor. Particularly interesting, to me at least, was the Native to Ireland animals...who knew we had sharks!!!

Now here is my first gripe with the museum - no lifts. This place anit, displays aside, the most child friendly of places. We were greeted at the foot of two stories of stairs with a sign that informed us that we were not allowed abandon the buggy. But no lift!!! Thankfully a very helpfull Dubliner who noticed my frustrated look offered to help me up the stairs with the buggy...gentleman.

Now this is where the Dead Zoo really comes to life. Lions, tigers, monkeys, ant eaters, gorillas...we were enthralled. Most impressive was the huge Blue Whale which hung from the roof. My son was well impressed.

We spent at least 30 minutes exploring the stuffed animals on display. Brilliantly kept and plenty of information attached. On the way around I noticed a very professor looking chap giving a tour to 20 or so genuinely captivated visitors.

When we reached the other end of this huge hall we were greeted with more stairs...and no lift. I can handle this I thought...steep as the stairs were. My son certainly enjoyed the experience as I dropped him step by step down the rather steep stair well. He seemed far more confident than I was that we had it all under control.

Thankfully the security man at the front entrance noticed my very obvious terror and ran to our assistance...much to the disapproval of my son who was really enjoying the adventure. At the end of the stair the guard informed me that they did have plans to put in lifts but the IMF were now taking it as part of the interest on the loans they gave to our banks...fair enough.

I was just positioning the buggy to leave the Dead Zoo when my son looked back with a sad face and asked "where the dinossarus?" As most who have children can is not always the easiest to bribe a child who really wants something so despite promises of McDonalds and ice-cream he was not buying it.

Thankfully I had another great thought...maybe the shop in the museum sells dinosaurs!!! They did...brilliant. The little man was delighted as we headed to the check out. That'll be €45 said the very pleasant woman behind the counter...OUCH!!!
Off we went to McDonalds happy but with a much lighter wallet.

In summary, the Natural History Museum is a very good attraction and I would recommend it to anyone visiting the city. Just a couple of warnings...don't bring a buggy and don't expect to see dinosaurs...unless you want to pay a fortune for one of the plastic miniature kind.

Ollie McGrath.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Irish audiences are in for a real treat this September with the arrival of Nicola McClean's Ground Zero 360 Exhibition to the RDS.
The 11th of September 2001 will always be remembered as the day that two jet liners crashed into the World Trade Centre in New York. The world was reviled, shocked, distraught and then enthralled by the heroism of the people of New York.
American based photographer McClean responded in the only way she knew how; she picked up her camera and took to the streets to try and capture the confusion and panic that surrounded her.
This September Irish audiences will get the opportunity to get a first hand account of the day that literally shook the world.
Through harrowing visuals, chilling audio clips and a unique panoramic installation, Ground Zero 360° invites you to step into the past and feel what eight million New Yorkers were feeling in the days that followed the attacks. The spectator will be able to discover, through Nicola’s eyes, the startling aftermath of one of the most tragic events in American history – seeing what she saw, hearing the stories she heard and meeting the people she met, particularly the heroic men and women of the New York City Emergency Services.
The city of New York continues to evolve and change, but the memory of those extraordinary days and weeks will always remain with us. Ground Zero 360° allows the onlooker to experience the enduring events of September 11th and celebrate the tremendous courage and dignity of a nation under fire.
The show runs in the RDS in Dublin 4 from the 1st of September through to the 30th...and it is free to the public.
Don't miss this opportunity to see one of the most stunning exhibitions likely to visit Dublin for some time.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


The Failte Dublin Horse Show kicks off at the RDS in Ballsbridge today with over €1 million in prize money up for grabs.

The Dublin Horse Show has been running for nearly 150 years and is part of the social calendar of the capital.

Ireland will compete with a massive international field of competitors including France, Germany, Great Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark and the United States.

The week’s main event takes place on Friday where the Nations’ Cup, for which the Aga Khan trophy is awarded, with 300 temporary staff, 300 voluntary stewards, 65 judges, veterinary surgeons, 12 commentators and 20 medical doctors are all on hand for what will be a busy week of action.

Ticket prices for the event have been frozen for a couple of years but this year’s season ticket increased from €57 to €60. The family ticket increased from €52 to €54 and allows admission to two adults and four children.

General admission prices range from €21 for adults and €15 for students, old age pensioners and children.

Remember visitors there is no parking at the RDS during the Horse Show. There is ample car parking space in the Dublin 4 area with limited space at the Grand Canal Hotel Car Park.

Good luck to the Irish team this week!!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


An 18ft crocodile puppet will be one of the main hooks of the latest huge production of Peter Pan which arrives in the Grand Canal Theatre Dublin this week.
The production, starring Les Dennis, Ben Richard and our own Maureen Nolan, kicks off a three week run at the stunning Dublin City venue.
The world premier of the musical, which comes from the producers of last summer's hit musical, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, promises to bring a refreshing look to the timeless classic story.
"Captain Hook has had a makeover," said TV actor Ben Richard's who plays the rouge pirate. "Hook is the quintessential baddie who you don't know whether to love or hate," he added.
The cast of the show boasts a large Irish contingent, headed by Nolan, but there is Irish talent all over the musical, with over 300 children turning up for auditions earlier this year.
It promises to be a spectacular affair, with a flying system, which cost over €100,000 and was developed for the Palladium Theatre in London's West End, to be used to propel Peter Pan around the theatre.
The show runs until the 6th of August and there are still packages from €109pps available on Packages include ticket to show, pre-show meal, night's accommodation at the Grand Canal Hotel and full Irish breakfast the following morning.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


The Office of Public Works are introducing a very interesting new concept for visiting some 750 attractions across the country.
Access to most historic sites managed by the Office of Public Works will be free today and on the first Wednesday of every month for the rest of this year.
It is part of a new initiative to encourage more national and international visitors to sites such as the Rock of Cashel, Clonmacnoise and the State Apartments in Dublin Castle.
The decision was made by Minister of State responsible for the OPW Brian Hayes who said it was done to stimulate interest in the built heritage of the country.
Access to most is free but for some sites such as Kilmainham Gaol, Kilkenny Castle and Newgrange adult visitors pay a fee of between €3-11 each.
The offer will run until the end of the year, when it will be reviewed...hopefully with the intention of maintaining it!!! Keep an eye on for more information.

Friday, June 24, 2011


So CNN have compiled a list of 10 things NOT to do in Dublin when visiting Dublin. It has caused quite a little bit of controversy on the emerald isle. For those looking for a Dubliner's opinion on CNN's verdict read on!!!
1. Don't get lit in Temple Bar
Ollie says - There a many reasons not to visit Temple Bar. The fact that a pint of Guinness still costs €150 and may even increase further if the pub you are in has a late licence or that you'd be hard pressed to find an Irish person among the throngs of tourists sort of back up the argument...but it is still worth the visit. Beautiful coble stone streets, nick nack shops, the best buffalo wings (the Elephant and the Castle), buskers and the atmosphere make it a must see when visiting Dublin. Just don't over stay you're welcome or you'll find you may need to hit the IMF for a loan.
2. - Do not expect to drink all night
Ollie says - While we can't condone drinking to excess there are always places in Dublin where you can drink all night. Late bars, Leeson Street and hotel resident bars all offer plenty of opportunities for late drinks. My advise - don't. Too much Guinness will mean that the following day the hotel toilet is where you'll be spending most of your time...not a pleasant experience.
3. Don't... try to get inside Oscar Wilde's birthplace
Ollie says - Never tried it myself but I'd always advise against trying to break into someone's property.
4. Never call an Irishman (or Irishwoman) British
Ollie says - goes without saying!!! Same could be said for calling a Canadian an American, a New Zealander an Australian or a Corkman a Dub...particularly after 10 €150 pints of Guinness in Temple Bar:)
5. Don't dismiss the food
Ollie says - couldn't agree more. Did you ever try the meat balls in Gasworks Bar?
6. Don't... stick to British Colonial and Irish Civil War historical sights
Ollie says - very good point. Although it could be handy for understanding why to avoid number 4!!!
7. Don't.... attend the St. Patrick's Day Parade
Ollie says - Once again CNN are on the ball. Have attended the parade many times and each time I ask "why am I here again". You can barely see a thing, it moves at -8 kilometres per hour and it nearly always rains. I'd suggest hitting the normally busy tourist sites while the rest of the tourists get cold, wet and board. Sky Plus the parade.
8. Don't order a Murphy's
Ollie says - The guys from CNN suggest this on the basis that Murphy's is from Cork, but there are many pluses for the tourist trying Murphy's. Firstly its cheaper, but more importantly if you're not used to drinking stout then you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between Murphys and Guinness anyway. While I'm a big Guinness fan...a nice pint of Irish stout is...a nice pint of Irish stout.
9. Don't... expect an "authentic" trad music session
Ollie says - they have a point again. While there are some genuine trad nights in Dublin, indeed it is becoming more common as people have more time on their hands, most of the trad nights advertised for tourists in Dublin are very staged. That said they are still a great experience and certainly not worth avoiding. If you're intending on catching one drop us a line and we'll tell you where to go.
10. Don't... take a photo next to Molly Malone
Ollie says - Ah poor Molly. She never gets a moment of peace. Try getting the picture on the way back from Temple Bar...there shouldn't be too many people around at that stage. But CNN have it right there are plenty of sculptures to get you're picture taken with in Dublin.

So there you have it. CNN's 10 things not to do in Dublin. The one thing it says about Dublin is that if they are the best/worst things to do in Dublin you can't really go wrong.

Check out the CNN article here. If you want to book a room in Dublin to avail of some of Ollie's 10 best things to do in Dublin then click here.


Ollie McGrath.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


We know that Dublin taxi drivers are some of the most friendly and indeed talkative on the planet but they are about to add "most green" to their growing repertoire.

Two electric taxis have hit the streets of Dublin, offering Irish customers a chance to travel the city under electric power for the first time. The new taxi's, which can comfortably achieve 100 mile range between charges, will easily fit the Dublin taxi drivers programme which currently averages 74 miles per day.

The service is offered jointly by Ireland’s Electricity Supply Board (ESB) and National Radio Cabs (NRC), with two vehicles available for general hire – a Nissan LEAF and a wheelchair-accessible Peugeot Expert.

The Dublin service is one of the first working electric taxi schemes in Europe and is part of a wider EU research programme that includes gathering data on the performance of electric transport in an urban setting.

Dublin currently has just five on-street charging points, but 30 fast-charging points, which can recharge a car to 80% capacity in 30 minutes, are due to be installed along inter-urban motorways by the end of the year.

Well done lads. I wonder though, will these new cars reduce the cost of getting a taxi. They'll be saving on the extortionate diesel and petrol prices.

The Grand Canal Hotel are offering a shuttle service to the airport hourly between 6am and 12pm daily. Alternatively Aircoach stops outside the Schoolhouse Hotel which is located just a minutes stroll from the hotel.

Talk soon,


Thursday, June 2, 2011


Summer has finally arrived and the numbers are coming back to the beautiful city of Dublin in there droves.

Theatre, gigs, museums, festivals, comedy and attractions...there is no shortage of things to do in Dublin. With so many things to do I've decided to put together a top 10 things that you can't miss this summer.

1. Failte Dublin Horse Show at the RDS - the country's premier horse event takes place in the RDS from the 3rd to the 7th of August. A celebration of Ireland's affinity with the horse, from the best show horses to the best international show jumpers. It is one of Ireland's largest events, a highlight of the summer, each year welcoming tens of thousands of people from Ireland and all over the world. Special discounted offers are available, with up to 20% discount on longer stays.

2. Riverdance - one of Ireland's greatest exports, Riverdance, kicks off its annual residency at the Gaiety Theatre on the 28th of June and runs till the 28th of August. This show has evolved over the years so even if you've seen it years ago it is probably very different. The hotel are offering theatre packages to include pre-show meal, ticket to show, night's accommodation and full Irish breakfast from just €109ppps.

3. Bloomsday - a celebration of one of world's greatest writers, James Joyce, Bloomsday, runs from June 16th - 19th in various part of Dublin city. June 16th is BLOOMSDAY, the day in 1904 on which all the action of James Joyce’s novel Ulysses takes place. It is celebrated every year on 16th June by Joyceans all over the world. In Dublin, where the novel is set, Bloomsday celebrations go on for a week from the 16th to the 19th June, with most of the attention on the day itself. It is traditional to dress up and go out for the day, visiting the locations of the book and taking part in readings, walks and convivial activities of all sorts which in some way connect with Ulysses, its author and its world.

4. The Script - Ireland's golden boy's of pop-rock RnB return to their home town for the biggest show of their impressive career. The Dubliners are set to grace Aviva Stadium on the 2nd of July for a once off show. The "Breakeven" stars have had a remarkable career thus far but this will surely be the highlight.

5. Rugby Internationals - After a very mixed autumn series and start to the Six Nations Irish rugby finally found its voice with a stunning victory over England at the Aviva Stadium. The provinces maintained the momentum with Leinsters' amazing Heinekin Cup victory in Cardiff and then Munster's Magners League triumph in Thomond Park. Now we are all excited about our prospects in September's World Cup in New Zealand...the dream is still alive. Brian O'Driscoll, Paul O'Connell and the lads have two warm up games in August with France (27th) and England (20th) both visiting the Aviva Stadium.

6. Dublin Super Cup - Without meaning to offend any of our Portuguese friends out there we were all a little dissapointed with the finalists of the Europa Cup Final in May...or at least all the Manchester City and Liverpool fans were. But there is light at the end of the tunnel with a new two day international club tourmanent taking place at the Lansdowne Road venue at the end of July. Inter Milan, Manchester City, Celtic and an Airtricity League Selection will all battle it out for the Dublin Super Cup on July 30/31.

7. Dublin Zoo - It is one of the oldest and most visited Zoos in Europe and for good reason. Located in the largest city centre park in Europe this zoo is a stunning site. Every kind of animal imaginable, bar the dinosaurs, are in here and there is plenty of picnic areas and things to keep the children, and adults, busy. Well worth the visit.

8. Grease - Dust off your leather jackets, pull on your bobby-socks and take a trip to a simpler time as "bad boy" Danny and "the girl next door" Sandy fall in love all over again. It’s the original High-School musical, featuring all the unforgettable songs from the hit movie including You’re The One That I Want, Grease Is The Word, Summer Nights, Hopelessly Devoted To You, Sandy, Greased Lightnin’ and many more. So throw your mittens around your kittens and Hand Jive the night away with the show that’ll make you want to stand up and shout, “A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop A-wop-bam-boom!” Package includes pre-show meal, ticket in teh Upper Circle, night's accommodation at the Grand Canal Hotel and Full Irish Breakfast from just €119pps. The show runs from August 9th - 27th in the Grand Canal Theatre.

9. Cricket International August 25th - Ireland v England. After the heroics of the world cup the star studded English cricket team come to Dublin to play their Irish counterparts. Cricket is not exactly a major sport in this country but if we were to put Ireland's victory over the English into context it would be like Andorra beating Ireland in Gaelic football. Interest in the sport is on the rise and over 2000 people attended the recent clash with Pakistan. The game takes place in Clontarf. If the weather holds up this could be a very enjoyable occasion.

10. All Ireland Hurling Final Croke Park, September 4th - Concluding on another sporting theme this really should be the first thing on the list to do this summer. Having attended the 2010 final between Kilkenny and Tipperary I can attest to the awe inspiring site of 30 amateur sports men slamming a tennis ball sized sliotar around the hallowed turf of Croke Park in front of 82,000 people. There are not too many places in the world where you would see such an event. The Hurling Final really epitomises what it is to be Irish...and you don't have to be Irish to appreciate it.

Feel free to let me know what I've left out.

Enjoy the sun.


Ollie (OMG).

Thursday, May 26, 2011


President Barack Obama and her Majesty the Queen are not the only visitors to Dublin this summer, with a host of international musical and drama events arriving in the next couple of months.

As the city returns to normal following the two very high profile visits, the Grand Canal Hotel, located in the leafy Ballysbridge area of Dublin City, are offering superb packages for all music and theatre lovers. The hotels theatre packages are hugely popular an include per-show meal, ticket to show, night's accommodation and full Irish breakfast the following morning from just €109 per person sharing.

First up comes the Westend hit musical, Joseph and His Amazing Techinicolor Dreamcoat which runs in the stunning Grand Canal Theatre from May 31st till June 11th. Around the same time the Gaiety Theatre welcomes Blood Brothers, the Hailed as one of the best musicals of all time. Blood Brothers has triumphed across the globe, scooping up no less than four awards for best musical in London and seven Tony Award nominations on Broadway. The show runs from June 7th to the 25th.

The end of June see's the return of Riverdance for its annual residence in the Gaiety Theatre from June 28th - August 28th, while over the same period a stunning new production of Peter Pan starring Les Denis (June 15th - Aug 6th) and Grease (Aug 9th - 28th) visit the Grand Canal Theatre.

Click here for further details on up and coming show's including Mamma Mia, Sister Act, Thriller, Annie and Dirty Dancing. The hotel is also offering packages including return rail from just €139pps.

If theatre is not your thing, The O2 plays host to some of world's biggest international acts including Rihanna, Duran Duran, James Taylor, Journey and Def Lepard to name just a few. The Grand Canal Hotel are offering a special O2 package which includes pre-show meal, return transfer to the O2, night's accommodation and Full Irish breakfast for just €79pps.

Keep an eye on the blog over the next week as Ollie is going to inspire us with his top 10 things to do in Dublin this summer.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


The largest ever audience for a soccer match played in Ireland will tune in today to watch Portuguese teams Braga play Porto in the Europa Cup Final.

It is believed that 20,000 Portuguese fans will arrive in Dublin today for the clash. You can imagine the fans of Porto and Braga looking at all the garda and barriers on the streets of Dublin and thinking..."are they not going over the top with their security...our fans don't hate each other that much." Fear not our Portuguese is all for her Royal Majesty the Queen.

On my way to Belfast yesterday I had a quick look at the stadium and noticed that the normally stand out sign for Aviva was covered with a banner saying "Dublin". I later read that we are not allowed call it Aviva Stadium due to the sponsors of the cup not wanting any shine to be taken away from them...they didn't have to worry about Irish supporters as most still call it after it's real name...Lansdowne Road.

What a couple of weeks it is going to be for Dublin and Ireland. The capital is plastered all over most major networks in the world showing images of the Queen laying a wreath at the Garden of Remembrance. This comes just days after Jedmania overcame Europe and the Eurovision Song Contest. The lads song Lipstick has gone number one in for countries this week. Next week the President of the World...Barack Obama arrives in Dublin to woo us.

But first things first. The Europa Cup Final will be the biggest televised event to date in Ireland with 40 cameras worth €75m in place. A total o 54 different international broadcaster will b covering the game.

No disrespect to the finalists but the game will not be a sell-out. There are still tickets available but today will till be the busiest day in the history of Dublin Airport as the Portuguese invasion takes place.

It is estimated that up to 80pc of the visitors will fly into Dublin today and head home tonight, however the match will be worth €20 million to the city.

On the football front, it appears that Braga don't have chance in the game. Porto are unbeaten and most footie pundits I've read or heard say that Braga will have to play out of their skin to have any chance.

We'll I'm a lover of the Ollie will be shouting for Braga.

That said both fans are all very welcome to drop into the Grand Canal Hotel and Gasworks Bar for a pint of Dublin's finest. Just ask for Ollie.

Ollie McGrath (OMG).

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Firstly a very warm welcome to her Majesty the Queen. It is great to finally welcome you to Dublin.

I've been scrolling through the pages of today's newspapers and came across some interesting trivia about the Queen in the Belfast Telegraph.

Ten Queen facts:
1. She is a qualified car mechanic dating back to her wartime service in the Women's Royal Army Corp.
2. Her principal Lady-in-Waiting is Lady Farnham, widow of Co Cavan landowner Lord Farnham.
3. Her funeral procession is rehearsed once a year on the route from Buckingham Palatce to Westminster Abbey.
4. She has 200 racing pegeons ketp in a special loft in Norfolk.
5. She owns one-third of the swans on the Thames river between Blackfriars and Hendon.
6. The poor of Windsor recieve a cwt of coal each from her at Christmas.
7. Her handbag contains a collection of good luck charms given to her by her children, including minature dogs, horses and saddles - plus family snaps, the most treasured of which is is a photo of Prince Andrew on his safe return from the Falkands in 1982.
8. She has two birthdays: April 21, marking the anniversary of her birth in 1926; and the second Saturday in June, her official birthday, marked by the Trooping of the Colour.
9. She's Britain's biggest landowner with 250,000 acres of agricultural land and 15,000 acres of forest in England and Scotland. She also owns huge swatches of Kensinton, Victoria, Millbank and the City as well as half the country's forshore.
10. She owns the copyright of the King James Bible and gets royalties for its use.

So there you have it.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


It has been a very good week for tourists hoping to come to Ireland and by extension the beleaguered Irish economy.

Not only will the Airport tax be withdrawn, VAT in tourism is to be reduced to 9% and arguably more significantly, from July, tourists from 14 nations, that up until now required a visa to holiday in Ireland, will not need one as long as they hold a visa to enter Britain.

The change to Ireland's visa regulations will encourage tourists visiting Britain for the Olympics next year to travel on to Ireland. The programme will last from July 2011 until October 2012. It will be reviewed and more countries may be added to the list.

Some of the countries that will be able to avail of the waiver from July include: Russia, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, India, China and Uzbekistan.

The government have stated they expect the new initiative to see an increase of 30,000 visitors to the country.

Currently tourists must fill out forms and this will avoid delays and costs.
Minister Shatter said the visa waiver scheme alone would not transform the tourist industry in Ireland.

Under the programme, nationals of 14 countries - who would normally have to apply and pay for a visa to enter the state at a cost of EUR60 – will be allowed enter Ireland if they have already obtained a short-term visa to enter the UK.

The initiative is expected to come into effect on July 1st, running until the end of October 2012.

Some good news indeed. There has NEVER been a better time to visit Ireland. Everything is cheaper...even the Queen is dropping off in the markets when she visits Dublin next week.

Added to the hottest April since records began, this has been a good couple of months for people visiting Ireland. Check out for best rates online.

Talk soon,

Ollie (OMG).

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Conversation overheard on the Dart last week: "Did ya see the Queen, Obama and the Pope are all comin to Ireland this year," said a 25 year old odd man in a thick Dublin accent to his friend standing beside him. "They musta heard about the €3 pints in Coppers," laughed the friend.

Of course the visit of such high profile world leaders is not down to the price of the pint in one of Ireland's favourite night clubs, but it certainly is timely. The images of the Queen and Obama smiling and waving at well wishers while standing in front of some of the country's most iconic scenery will be a welcome image boost for the country.

What a contrast the stunning architecture of Trinity College or the rolling hills of West Cork will make to clichéd photos of the unfinished skeleton of the Anglo Building and the ghost estates of middle Ireland that have been bandied about endlessly around the world.

I'm sure the arrangements have already been made for their travels but Old Ollie here has already sent out an invitation to Mr Obama to stay in the Grand Canal Hotel Dublin, and offered her Majesty the Lansdowne Suite should the trappings of Farmleigh House in the Phoneix Park not live up to her usual standards.

Disappointingly, we learned today that the President is only going to spend 24 hours in Ireland and that his mooted address to the people in Croke Park is not now going to happen.

I'm not sure where Obama is staying but at this stage I can only presume that the room I'm holding for him is going to remain idle unless I put it back up for sale. That said I've also invited him in for a pint in Gasworks. I'll be waiting by the bar Mr President.

The Queen is due to arrive on the 17th of May until the 20th. Trinity College, the Garden of Remembrance, Dublin Castle and Croke Park are all thought to be on her itinerary.

So far, the dates for the visit have not been officially confirmed by either Áras an Uachtaráin or the palace, but it is most likely to occur either side of US president Barack Obama’s State visit to London between May 24th and 26th.

Despite the obvious (well to the Irish anyway) historical issues, the vast majority of Ireland will welcome with open arms the Queen's visit to Ireland.

Security around the visit of both will be such an extent that when I typed in "the Queen's visit to Ireland itinerary" I probably appeared on both the Irish and the British security alerts.

The Pope's visit has yet to be confirmed. Rumoured to take place at the same time as the 50th Eucharistic Conference which takes place in Dublin in May 2012 a visit by the Pope will be another welcomed boost to Ireland's image abroad.

A message to all three...if you get board give me a shout. We have a great relationship with the Gaiety/Grand Canal Theatre, the O2, Aviva Stadium, Shelbourne Park and if they really feel like it...the National Leprechaun Museum.

Cead Mile Failte to you all!!!

Ollie McGrath (OMG)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


You’ll step right back in time into the Viking World as soon as you cross the door at Dublin’s Dublinia exhibition. From the Viking ship that greets you just inside the doorway and the costumed actors roaming each room of the exhibition, you’ll feel like you’ve time travelled back into the 900’s.

Gertrude who works on the till at the entrance enlightened the whole experience and each staff member knows their stuff, from the horrid details on the Black Death to the intricacies of how really old ‘lavatories’ (if you could call them that) worked.
Daily life of Vikings in Dublin and the history of how they arrived & stayed in Ireland are also explained in great detail.

The exhibition features some of the National Museum of Ireland's collection of artefacts from the Wood Quay excavations as well as a new interactive archaeology room which explores the work of archaeologists.

The Dublinia building, the former Synod Hall of the Church of Ireland, links a bridge straight into the Christ Church Cathedral, a stunning & striking part of Dublin history.
All in all, Dublinia is a very cultural and educational exhibition, with a bit of fun thrown in…..everyone roar Dubhlinn!!! Grrrrr…..

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


The thing I always loved most about the Sound of Music was Dick Van Dike...he was a genius. The quintessential children’s comedy clown, Van Dike was the genuine article.
So it was with trepidation that I trotted along to the Dublin’s Grand Canal Theatre to catch the latest Westend production. Jason Donovan...hmm i thought as I collected my tickets in the box office and headed for a quick glass of vino in the bar.
It did not take me long before I realised that this was not Chitty Chitty Bang Bang or indeed Mary Poppins, and that, of course, Van Dike was in fact Christopher Plummer playing an unyielding Austrian patriot. But still Jason Donovan!!!
The story of the von Trapp family and their escape from Nazi occupation was made famous by the movie staring Julie Andrews and ahem Plummer, however the show actually debuted on stage.
Of course I’ve seen the movie many times and my memory quickly comes back to me. As Maria, Verity Rushworth, is stunning. From the outset, helped in no small part by a chorus of singing nuns she owns the stage.
Familiar songs such as Climb Every Mountain, I am Sixteen and Do a Deer and are well received. But as suspected the one bum note on the night is Mr Donovan. He simply does not have the vocal range for the part. The part of Mr von Trapp is that of a wooden Austrian but Donovan takes the wooden to the extreme.
To their credit the children temper Donovan’s failings and in the grand scale of the musical it is still worth the price of the tickets.
The overall theme of the Sound of Music is a depressing one as the von Trapp family flee from Nazi occupation and i for one left the Grand Canal Theatre a little more depressed than when entering.

Monday, April 11, 2011


There is a belief in Ireland that when we are on our knees and suffering that our artistic and sporting achievements come to the fore.
Following a thrilling weekend of sport it is not hard fall in behind this belief. Rory McIlroy, Ulster, Munster and of course Leinster all gave us something to believe in over the last number of days...but they are not the only ones flying the flag for Irish sport.
Rory is a young man who seems fazed by nothing. Even after his collapse at the Masters on Sunday he still held his head high, tweeting yesterday that "this day will make me stronger in the end."
He may not have won but the country was gripped by his efforts from Thursday on. It was just a shame that he didn't follow Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell to lift a major title.
It was also a massive rugby weekend with Munster kicking off proceedings on Saturday afternoon. The men in red had been written off earlier this season following their exit from the Heineken Cup but they could end up with both the Amlin and the Magners League trophies in their cabinet by start of the summer. Not a bad return for a team who it was said were finished.
Undoubtedly the game of the weekend was Leinster v Leiceter just a few hundred yards down the road from here. What a fantastic game and the best team won. Even Sky Sports, who can be notoriously biased toward the English clubs, admitted that Leinster had deserved their win.
Rob Kearney, Lions and Leinster's injured full back, tweeted that he thought it was the best atmosphere at a Leinster game he'd seen. And who'd disagree. Ulster tried valiantly in the other quarter final but just came up short. In fairness to the lads from the North, it has been a great year for them. Next season they should be challenging for the title.
So back to my point. Our economic difficulties really seem to be lifting our sporting achievements to new levels. Certain commentators highlight the Jack Charlton era as the real spark for the Celtic Tiger.
Step forward the Irish Cricket Team, Katie Taylor, Brian O'Dricsoll, Conor Niland or, fingers crossed, Trap's national soccer team. It is a good time for sport in Ireland, ironically when there is less money being pumped in.
So here's lookin forward to the 30th of April when Leinster battle Toulouse at the Aviva Stadium and give us a welcomed break from depressing economic headlines.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Firstly, reports of our demise are well exaggerated. If you were to believe reports in the media and the web this week the Hayatt Hotel Group have bought the Grand Canal Hotel.
Well fear not my friends. We are and will remain an Irish family owned hotel for a long long time. The property the media are referring to is in fact the Grand Canal Square Hotel which is lying unfinished and vacant just opposite the Grand Canal Theatre.
I attended the Kylie gig last week and while I didn't get quite as excited as a certain Irish TV personality, I was none the less hugely impressed. What a show. While Kylie's musical repertoire hardly rivals Bob Dylan or even Madonna, she is an entertainer.
Taking obvious borrowings from U2's stunning stage productions over the years the gig was much more than about the music. Kylie seems comfortable with the fact that she doesn't have the songs to carry such a large venue but entertains heroically, backed up by dazzling lights and fire works.
The one thing that took me back was that it was full. This is not a reference to Kylie's popularity but rather that even in such recessionary times that people are still going to gigs in such numbers.
I mean look at the poor FAI and to a lesser extent the IRFU. Attendances at the Aviva Stadium have been disappointing to say the least. But the O2 consistently hosts touring artists who sell out.
Almost every show that has visited the docklands venue has had the "no tickets available for this date" come up on a search on Ticketmaster. From X-Factor, the Script, JLS, Katie Perry and of course Justin Bieber.
And going forward things are looking just as rosy for the Live Nation run O2 Dublin. Peter Kay, Westlife, Roger Waters, Glee, and Colin Farrell's new squeeze Rihanna have all still to visit the O2 Dublin.
Of course at this stage I have to plug the success of our O2 Package, which has been busing people over to The O2 for over a year. And it doesn't surprise me. You break down the price. A pre-show meal in Dublin could cost you anything up to €30, god knows how much for the taxi or train, €40 each for the hotel and at least €10 for the breakfast.
At the Grand Canal Hotel we can offer you car park, pre-show meal, return transfer to the gig, night's accommodation and your full Irish the next morning for just €79pps. Throw on another €20 and you can get return rail from anywhere in the country.
Click here to book the O2 Package or check here for what is going on in the O2 over the next year.

Ollie McGrath.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Fair play to Simon O'Connor and the guys down at the City of a Thousand Welcomes. This is a new site which is, on one hand asking Dubliners to become Ambassador's and with the other, offering visitors the chance to meet with one of the said Ambassadors for a pint to learn about the city.

This, well timed with the St Patrick's festival kicking off, project has plenty of merit. One of Ireland's greatest selling points is our culture and our people. We are famous throughout the globe for the Cead Mile Failte (a hundred thousand welcomes in Irish).

Some of Ireland's favourite sons and daughters have already signed up to be ambassadors, including Presidential hopeful Senator David Norris, actress Victoria Smurfit and former Miss World Rosanna Davison (how nice would it be if you could request the person to meet you!!!).

Tourism has slowed down in recent years, chiefly down to the world recession, but also, and not to the same degree, due to the perception that Ireland is expensive. Unfortunately we cannot control the first part of my last statement but we have made huge inroads into the latter statement.

But that message has to be gotten out there to the world's masses. I would suggest that if you were to ask anyone from outside Ireland what they think of when you mention the Emerald Isle, outside the usual steryotpes and movie/music stars, people will talk about scenery, craic and of course friendly people.

I was touched by a story, written by an Irish journalist who is covering the tsunami tragedy in Japan. He tells of how he was staying in a hotel near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant when he got a knock on his room door telling him they were evacuating everybody because of an explosion at the plant. He had now where to stay when a local, who didn't have a word of English, offered him a mattress in his family home. Irish people are a similar breed.

So why not get out there and sell one of our greatest tourism strengths...the people. So I've signed up to be an Ambassador.

Any visitors looking to take advantage of the new project go to and of course...ask to meet OMG.

See you soon,

Ollie McGrath (OMG).

Thursday, March 10, 2011


First of all a Definition:

What is a leprechaun?
The leprechaun is a character of Irish Mythology. He is about 2'6" (75cm) tall. He is very rich but extremely tricky and if you catch one don't take your eyes off him, or he will disappear! He is a very slick talker and loves a bit of fun...or so the website tells us.

Not sure now, but at some stage over the last month or so I came across the National Leprechaun Museum. It jumped out at me like a rabid dog in Resident Evil.

At first I presumed that it was some Irish American gimmick in Boston or Chicago. You see Leprechaun’s are a stigma that Irish people do not like to be associated. Unfortunately for us like U2, Riverdance and the Celtic Bust for most foreigners the mere mention of Ireland evokes images of the Leprechaun, similar to the way the English are associated with bolar hats.

This Irish stereotype is rampant the world over and the Simpsons, Family Guy, Darby O’Gill and even Scrubs have all used the Leprechuan to represent the Emerald Isle. The mere mention of Leprechauns’ to an Irishman will be met with a feckless roll of the eyes or a tut, so when Tom O’Reilly came up with the concept of a museum he was certainly taking risk by adopting the red haired midget. Indeed Tom has been more or less shunned by the Irish tourism machine. No self regarding politician or Lord Mayor is going to give the press an opportunity to be seen near a Leprechaun…especially in Dublin.

So a year to the day that they opened, and purely coincidently I might add, old Ollie here strolled in to speak to museum manager, Craig Burnett. He kindly, considering I just dropped in, gave me a tour of the facilities.

The museum is well located along the Luas line and just a short stroll from the new “Italian Quarter” in an up and coming part of Dublin. A word of advice though, don’t just head into the city thinking you can find it. Although there are plenty of directional signs around Temple Bar, the trail goes dead once you hit the Liffey, as the guys in the museum have been told they are not allowed put directional signs on the North of the city…hmmm.

So first and foremost…what to expect. Don’t expect wax works of midget red haired, bearded men. There is actually not a huge amount of images etc of Leprechauns. Refreshingly what you actually get is a real experience of how story telling has developed from ancient Ireland from shanachies (old Irish story tellers).

See what most people don’t realise is that Ireland has as rich a methogical culture as Greece and Crete, thanks mainly to pre Celts and early Celts suspicion of putting stories down in words. There are very few records of writings on early settlers in Ireland with most of the evidence coming from the Tain. (I stand to be corrected on my history). Instead what happed is that stories were past from person to person, generation to generation by word of mouth, therefore opening every passing to exaggeration. As each person embellished the story as they past it, myths were born.

Cuchalain, Fionn McCool, Queen Maeve, Banshee’s, Fairies and of course Leprechauns are all explored. The museum was started off essentially as an art project and you get a real sense of that as you go though the building. Wooden structures, light shows and dazzling displays litter the walk through. Craig also tells me that the tour guides are in fact qualified actors who literally take on the forms of Shanachies as they take visitors along the experience.

Each tour is tailored to the visitor and the stories tend to change focus based on that. I can see how it would appeal to children, adults and even stags or hens who would probably enjoy the leprechaun room with its giant table and chairs as much as the infants.

There have been over 70,000 people through the doors in the first year which is quite remarkable considering the lack of publicity and support they have got. This is not a gimmick people and very much holds its own with the major visitor attractions of the city.

The Irish tourist authorities should embrace this and give them as much support as they need. You get the feeling that Craig and Tom are only beginning and this is a working canvas.

There is a pot of gold on Jervis Street for Irish Tourism. Somebody in Failte’s Amien Street office just needs to open their eyes to see it. Follow the Rainbow guys!!!!

The Leprechaun Museum is located in Twilight House, Jervis Street, Dublin 1. The cost of a tour is €10 for Adults and €8.50 for children with under 3s free. Visit for more details.

Ollie McGrath (OMG).

Friday, February 18, 2011


The ad for "Tutankhamen - His Tomb and His Treasures" tells us that "The Pharaoh is Coming", but did he really, I asked myself leaving the RDS in Dublin on the opening day of the exhibition.
At a glance, Dublin 4 hasn't seen this much bling since the height of the Celtic Tiger. But before any serious criminals start planning a Brinks type heist, don't bother, all the merchandise are replica's of the originals.
Don't let that put you off visiting however, all of the 1,000 artefact's have been painstakingly reproduced to scale by expert Egyptian craftsmen.
I'm a bit of a history buff so I was looking forward to visiting the exhibition. Egyptian history is not a subject I can claim to know a huge deal about, but with a little help from the Mummy movie franchise and Karl Pilkinton's Idiot abroad I have at least beginners knowledge of history's longest enduring civilisations.
Tutankhamun is the most famous of all the Egyptian Pharaohs for a number of reasons - not least that his tomb was the first that was found almost fully intact - all others were emptied of their treasures by thieves.
He died at the relatively young age of 18 but like all Pharaoh's he didn't go empty handed. His tomb was littered with stunning pieces of art and enough gold to pay off the debts of modern Irish banks.
Children will definitely enjoy the spectacle. Backed up by a stunning audio and visual display, images of the mummified remains of Tutankhamen and two still born children will no doubt fascinate and revile in equal measure.
This is an impressive exhibition which has seen over 2 million people pay through the doors since its inception in 2008. There are now three touring exhibitions roving the World.
Based on original photos and diary entries from the period, the exhibition tells of Howard Carter's painstaking journey to find the lost Pharoh's remains. After many year's of searching and shedding tons of Lord Carnarvan's dosh, Carter was about to give up on his dream after exhausting the Valley of the Kings.
He was to find the tomb of Tutankhamun in literally the only remaining slither of land that he hadn't searched. The exhibition brilliantly walks you through the moment he found the tomb and following process of detailing, photographing and of course the curse.
The only problem I would have with the exhibition is that there is always the over-riding knowledge that none of what you are looking at is real. That said don't let that stop you really is a stunning presentation of what is a riveting subject.
Tutankhamun his Tomb and Treasures opened on the 17th of February and runs till July. Packages are available at

Ollie McGrath

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


The Jameson Dublin International Film Festival kicks off on the 17th of February with a host of stars and interesting movies visiting Ireland's capital city over the next month.

Established in 2003, The Jameson Dublin International Film Festival (JDIFF) has fast become Ireland’s premiere feature film festival and takes place in Ireland’s capital city over the course of eleven days and nights each February.

JDIFF will show 120 films from the four corners of the globe to the Irish Audience. The festival is a citywide event that takes place in all of the Dublin City Centre Cinemas including Cineworld, The Savoy, Screen, Irish Film Institute and Light House Cinema in Smithfield. The majority of films shown at the film festival are Irish premieres, and for some of the films shown, the festival represents the only public screening that will take place in Ireland.

As I mentioned earlier there are 120 movies to be shown so while I can't really go through them all I'm going to pick out a few that have seduced my interest.

Highly rated directors Brendan Culleton and Irina Maldea - bring us An Irish Affair, a penetrating and poignant study of the Irish-led 1961 UN peacekeeping mission to Katanga, a province that wanted to break-away from the newly independent Congo and the two Irishmen who were key decision makers in the country during that time, Gen. Seán McKeown, commander of the UN military force and Irish diplomat, Conor Cruise O’Brien, the UN’s civil representative in Katanga.

Some big international films also make their debut in Dublin including The Adjustment Bureau starring Mat Damon and Emily Blunt. The film is both a knowing examination of contemporary American politics and a witty and stylish thriller. While The Way, starring Martin Sheen and directed by his son Emilio Estevez, is a touching film about the testy yet unbreakable bond between father and son, as well as the supportive, familial connections that can form among strangers.

Others films getting their first airing at the festival include the political thriller Fair Game, starring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts and Channing Tatum's The Eagle, adapted from Rosemary Sutcliff’s classic novel The Eagle of the Ninth, a breathtaking historical drama, detailing the explosive clash of cultures in the Roman empire.

But the movies that I'm most looking forward to come from two of my favorite directors. Guillermo del Toro has an exceptional eye for new talent and his latest film as producer, Julia’s Eyes, directed by Spanish newcomer Guillem Morales, will terrify audiences, while Ken Loache's Route Irish, the story of the privitisation of the war in Iraq, will no doubt only enhance his excellent reputation for brilliant films.

Finally watch out for new Irish directing talent in Juanita Wilson. Her first feature, Inside I'm Dancing, starring James McEvoy, gave us a glimpse of what she was capable of. Her latest movie, As If I'm Not There, a hard hitting true story from the Bosnian war, based on Croatian journalist slavenka Drakulic’s book of the same name is causing some serious excitement.

Check out for details on when the show are taking place.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


A very interesting article on sheds some light on the level of the Irish infiltration into the US. Interesting facts from the US Census include that 24% of people in Massachusetts claim Irish ancestry and even more impressively 36.9 million US citizens claim to of Irish decent.

Here are some highlights:

Number of Irish Americans: 36.9 million
This number was more than eight times the population of Ireland itself (4.5 million). Irish was the nation's second most frequently reported ancestry, trailing only German. If Scots Irish are included the number rises to over 40 million.
Sources: 2009 American Community Survey & Ireland Central Statistics Office

Number of Irish-born in U.S.: 122,000
Number of Irish-born U.S. residents in 2009. Those from Ireland are much older (a median of 60 years old) and have a higher median household income ($56,158) than U.S. residents as a whole (37 years and $50,221, respectively).
Source: 2009 American Community Survey

Largest population of Irish: Massachusetts, 24%
Percent of Massachusetts residents who were of Irish ancestry in 2009. This compares with a rate of 12% for the nation as a whole.
Source: 2009 American Community Survey

Irish American education levels: 32% college graduates
Percentage of people of Irish ancestry, 25 or older, who had a bachelor's degree or higher. In addition, 92% of Irish Americans in this age group had at least a high school diploma. For the nation as a whole, the corresponding rates were 28% and 85% respectively.
Source: 2009 American Community Survey

Annual income: $56,383
Median income for households headed by an Irish American, higher than the $50,221 for all households. In addition, 10% of people of Irish ancestry were in poverty, lower than the rate of 14% for all Americans.
Source: 2009 American Community Survey

Numbers of professional Irish: 40% in management
Percentage of employed civilian Irish Americans 16 or older who worked in management, professional and related occupations. Additionally, 27% worked in sales and office occupations; 16% in service occupations; 9% in production, transportation and material moving occupations; and 8% in construction, extraction, maintenance and repair occupations.
Source: 2009 American Community Survey

Numbers of Irish owning their own home: 70%
Percentage of householders of Irish ancestry who owned the home in which they live, with the remainder renting. For the nation as a whole, the home ownership rate was 66%.
Source: 2009 American Community Survey

Places called Shamrock : 4
Number of places in the United States named Shamrock, the floral emblem of Ireland. Mount Gay-Shamrock, West Virginia, and Shamrock, Texas, were the most populous, with 2,623 and 1,828 residents, respectively. Shamrock Lakes, Indiana, had 152 residents and Shamrock, Oklahoma, 122. (Statistic for Mount Gay-Shamrock is from the 2000 Census; the other statistics are 2009 estimates.)
Sources: American FactFinder and population estimates

Number of places called Dublin: 9
Number of places in the United States that share the name of Ireland's capital, Dublin. Since the 2000 Census, Dublin, California has surpassed Dublin, Ohio, as the most populous of these places (44,541 compared with 39,310, respectively, as of July 1, 2009).

So there you have it. Any chance our cousins in the States can come back and help us with our economy. You'll have a great time...we promise.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


The inaugural Carling Nations Cup takes place in the Aviva Stadium on the 8th of February 2011 and the Grand Canal Hotel are offering fans the chance to win two tickets to the Ireland v Wales game.

The tournament kicks off with the clash of the Republic of Ireland v Wales on Tuesday followed by Northern Ireland v Scotland on Wednesday. Molson Coors Key Account Manager on Trade Leo Brennan and Brand Manager Jordana Busby dropped into the Grand Canal Hotel in advance of the showpiece to show off the new trophy (see picture attached).

We have to admit we were impressed. Shaped not unlike the World Cup, the Carling Nations Cup trophy is certainly going to capture fans imagination.

This brand new competition is designed to add an edge to the friendly season.Indeed Northern Ireland and Scotland will bring more than 10,000 fans for their clash at the impressive new arena.

Carling have very kindly provided us with two tickets to the Ireland v Wales game. Simply visit our Facebook page and tell us the parent company name of Carling to be in with a chance to win the tickets.


As if there was need for anymore proof to show that there is super value in Dublin, the latest Savills and City Occupancy Hotel Index shows that hotel room rates fell 6.3% in 2010.

The report results are based on daily statistics supplied during the year by over 100 hotels, primarily in the urban centres of Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway.

These hotels account for over 14,000 bedrooms, which is around 25% of hotel bedrooms in the Republic of Ireland.

Dublin’s revenue per available room was down 7% year on year which lagged behind the national average. Savills believes this is due to the “hugely competitive” hotel pricing in the capital. Tell us about it!!!

Limerick occupancy increased 2% – the first increase in five years. The city remains last on the list with 53% occupancy however, while Cork is in the lead with 69%.

Five-star hotels were hit the hardest with revenue per available room down 8% in 2010.

Check out for best rates in Dublin City.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


We are well into 2011 and New Year's Day seems like months ago. I've been thinking that maybe I should start some resolutions for 2011 but then I'm useless at keeping them. So I've decided to articulate my hopes and resolutions for the rest of the year. Stay tuned as i'm going of offer my 10 predictions for 2011 later this week.

1. Start Smoking - the smoking ban is one of the best laws enacted in the history of the Irish state. The smoking ban had been in effect in the Republic of a number of year's when on a trip across the border into Northern Ireland I walking into the Merchant Hotel in Belfast. The Merchant had only recently been converted from a bank into one of the most stunning hotel's in Belfast but when I walked into the bar it looked like someone had set the place on fire. The smoke was everywhere. That is my abiding memory of the place...not the stunning decor. My problem with the smoking ban is that, particularly during the summer, the smoking area is the social hub of any pub and as a non-smoker with so many cigarette puffing friends...the bar can be a lonely place.

2. Ban the Recession - talk of the bust has been haunting the print and airwaves in Ireland for four year's now. In that time I've been married, had children, a knee operation, got a degree and gone very grey...enough said. We're all recessioned out. It may be fresh news to the international media but although people have slightly less money, a walk around Dublin even on a Monday would dispel the myth that Ireland is dead. So the word Recession is now retired from OMG's vocab.

3. Change Hotel Ranking System - I read over the weekend that the British authorities were considering doing away with the traditional 1 - 5 star hotel ranking system...great idea. I've been saying it for years. The star system does not do the Irish hotels any favours. Three star hotel's in Dublin are far superior to their British and European counterparts. I've lost count of the amount of times I've been left disappointed with the facilities. Why is complimentary Wi-Fi such a big ask. It is the norm in Dublin. An ironing bord please!!!

4. Get Tourism Ireland to come clean - Our tourism promoters have traditionally done a decent job in promoting Ireland abroad...sure look at the success we've had in attracting tourists over the last decade. Things have quietened down recently and there are a number of reason's for that such as world reccess...oops not allowed use that word, but one of the biggest obstacles to getting visitors to Ireland is to get over the perception that it is a very expensive destination. Breaking news...we are not. Hotel prices are down up to 50% and alcohol and food deals are a plenty. Now that said, if you go to Temple Bar expect to still pay dearly for the privileged. So here's an idea. Why don't we hold our hands up and say "we were wrong". Yes we did get a little greedy, some more than others, but we've learned our lesson. Ireland is still the place to come for a break, cead mile failte and scenery.

5. Visit the Dublin Wheel - Opened in the summer of 2010 down in the Point Village. I had all good intentions of dropping down to see it but ain't made it yet. I'll be honest I get sick going around a roundabout so it is something that I've sort of put off but I'm going to make it over the next few weeks. I'll post pictures. The view should be stunning.

6. Wear a Tie - The suit tie is a relic of the class system. Yep that is just my opinion but this opinion is acted out by the thousands of young business people all over Europe. I'm told that a proper business man wears a tie and that presentation is king. Well let me tell you people you can be dressed like a king but if you have nothing to back it up the suit is as useless as a coat for a dog. It is all about product and personalities. If you don't have either it doesn't matter what you are long as it is not a tracksuit. Wear a tie...i think not.

7. Buy some skis - If there is one very important thing that I learned in 2010, it was that suit shoes and ice are not compatible...indeed rather lethal. The snow and ice that crippled the country in November/December almost crippled me aswell. Twice I bounced off the hard concrete and countless times resembled Bambi and that was only going from the office/house to the car. That is two years in a row that we've been hit with those weather conditions so for 2011 I'm going to buy a pair of skis to get around.

8. Be more Cultured - i made a couple of forays into the dramatic world last year when I went to see Hairspray and then Scrooge in the Grand Canal Theatre. Both were very enjoyable. If you've been reading my blogs then you'll know that I particularly enjoyed Tommy Steel in Scrooge. So this year I'm going to make a big effort. There is plenty to chose from with Calendar Girls (and not just for the ladies), Mamma Mia, Peter Pan, Grease and Jekyll and Hyde to name just a few of the show's visiting the Grand Canal Theatre this year. Keep your eye out for reviews.

9. Learn French or Spanish or Polish or Irish. Irish people have to be one of the worst nations in the world for learning languages. Maybe it is because we were forced to learn Irish in school, a language which had not daily use. Maybe it was the way it was taught. Either way, I think we were left with a strong dislike for learning another tongue. But things are slowly changing. Irish is once again a very popular language. People have rediscovered their love for our native tongue. So over the next year I'm going to learn a foreign language. Which one I haven't decided. Any suggestions?

10. Visit the O2 - Our O2 Package has taken on a life its own over the last year. The package offers pre-show meal, return transfer to The O2, Night's Accommodation and Full Irish breakfast. When you consider that you get all that for €79pps with complimentary car parking then it is easy to see why it has gone so well. But I've a confession to make. I've not been to the O2 since it was re-built. I believe it is a superb venue, or so the reviews say. I'd been a regular to its former incarnation...the Point but I either have had no interest in the gigs there or if I did want to go tickets were like gold dust.

Click back for 2011 Predictions.

Lots of love,

Thursday, January 13, 2011


January is a big month for the Irish homosexual community with civil partnerships becoming a reality.

Some of the great legacies of the boom in Ireland are not the three lane motorways or the gleaming architectural marvels littered around the city but maturing of our laws.

Strolling around post Celtic Tiger Ireland it is hard to imagine that condoms were illegal in this country just 20 years ago. Indeed most people don't realise how quickly we have grown up on the Emerald Isle.

The latest strides towards adulthood are taken this week with the commencement of the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010, which provides legal recognition for same-sex couples in Ireland for the first time. The Act was signed into law by President Mary McAleese at Áras an Uachtaráin back in July 2010.

Changes to the tax and social welfare code were made in the recent finance and social welfare Bills made way for the introduction of the Act. The first Civil Partnerships will be taking place in April, however, if couples have already had a foreign marriage then they will be recognised as Partnered from January, so congrats from the Grand Canal Hotel.

Previously same sex couples had to travel to other jurisdictions such as Northern Ireland or England to get married. The Act will give the civil partners rights over shared homes, maintenance payments and pensions.

Progressive laws like the above do more for the development of Irish society than any IMF/EU bailout. Another step on the road to adulthood has been taken.

The Registrar of Civil Marriages is located Grand Canal Street Lower, Dublin 2, just a two minute stroll from the Grand Canal Hotel. Check out our website for details on our wedding packages. The Registrar is contactable by phone on 00353-1-6787114 or 00353-1-6787115.


Monday, January 10, 2011


This week sees the return of the BT Young Scientist and Techology Exhibition to the RDS from the 12th to the 15th of January.

The exhibition, in it's 47th year, is the final stage of a nationwide science competition which is open to all second level students both north and south of the border.

The first competition was held in 1965 in the Round Room of the Mansion House in Dublin and attracted 230 entries. The first ever winner, John Monaghan, has recently retired as Chief Executive Officer of Avigen, a US Biotech company. The success of the first year was such that the exhibition moved to the much larger venue of the RDS in year two and it has remained there ever since.

Students pick from four Project Categories including Social Behavioral Science and Technology. The winner of the competition goes on to represent Ireland in a European competition, which was won by Donal Keane from Abbey Grammer School, Newry, in 1993.

The competition can act as springboard to much greater things for the participants. Indeed Patrick Collinson from Castletroy College, Limerick, who won for his Croma - "A New Dialect of Lisp" in 2005 went on to study in MIT Boston and founded a company called Auctomatic which was subsequently sold for $5 million.

Entries into this year's BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition include "Ultraviolet Perception of Colours by Birds" by St Aloysius College, Cork; "Can fuel tax replace road tax" by Mary Immaculate Secondary School, Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare and "A walking aid for the visually impaired" by Abbey Christian Brothers School, Co Down.

Richard O’Shea, 18 year old sixth year student from Scoil Mhuire Gan Smal, Blarney, Co Cork was the winner of the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition 2010 with his project entitled, “A biomass fired cooking stove for developing countries”.

See listed below all the awards that will be made at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition 2011:
BT Young Scientist(s) of the Year 2011 Individual or Group
• BT Young Scientist(s) of the Year Trophy (perpetual).
• Cheque for €5,000 / £4,500.
• The chance to represent Ireland at the European Union Contest for Young Scientists.
Best Individual or Best Group.
• BT Trophy (perpetual).
• Cheque for €2,400 / £2,160.
Runner-up Individual and Runners-up Group
• BT Trophy (perpetual).
• Cheque for €1,200 / £1,080.

Special rates available at the Grand Canal Hotel are as follows:

Single Room €59.00 incl. Full Irish Breakfast
Twin Room €72.00 incl. Full Irish Breakfast
Triple Room €99.00 incl. Full Irish Breakfast.

Contact 01-6461000 to book.

Good luck to everyone involved.


Thursday, January 6, 2011


What a year 2010 proved to be for Dublin. I was going to start naming the landmark events but when I put them down on paper they all proved too depressing to talk about so instead I decided to focus on what there is to look forward to in 2011…and what a year we have in store my friends. I was look for 10 things but could have written 80. There is so much going on in Dublin in 2011…plenty to smile about.

So here we go and in no particular order:

St Patrick's Day – Ireland’s Day. Dublin may not boast the biggest St Patrick’s Day Parade (New York has the largest parade in the world) but there is no better place to be on St Patrick’s Day (or week) than Dublin City. And it is not just the parade. There is so much to do around the streets of Ireland’s capital during the festival. It is a celebration of Irish culture and for the uneducated on the subject…it is a very extensive portfolio. Art, music, literature and theatre and much more. Where ever you go in Dublin in that week you are sure to have some craic. You can find out more about the festival on The St Patrick’s Festival runs from the 16th – 20 of March.

Europa Cup Final - Europe's second biggest international club cup competition comes to Dublin this May and what a fitting event for one of the worlds most spectacular stadiums. That may be a bold statement but having watched the old Lansdowne Road pulled down and then view the creation of the stunning structure that is the new Aviva Stadium I'm fairly confident that visitors who see it will agree. As there is no Irish interest n the Europa Cup I'm going to put my money on Liverpool, although I think there is more chance of Shane McGowen becoming Pope, judging by their current form. Our close cousins would make it a night to remember as most are half Irish anyway and it is the closest thing we could get to having a home team in the final. The final takes place on the 18th of May.

Six Nations - Ireland have been fairly successful in recent years at the game of rugby. Led by talisman Brian O'Driscoll this is going to be a massive year for the boys in Green. With the World Cup in New Zealand this September fans are going to get to see their heroes more than they'd be used to. France in February and England in March in the Six Nations. The lads owe me big time. I much prefer to watch rugby from the comfort of my couch but decided, due to the fact that they were going to play their last game in Croke Park almost guaranteed to lift the Triple Crown against lowly Scotland, that I'd go to the game...they lost!!! For visitors rugby is a fascinating and sometimes brutal sport to watch and the beauty about it is the recession means that it may not be impossible to get tickets for the games in the Aviva this year. If you don't make the Six Nations games both France and England return for World Cup warm up games in August.

Sound of Music – I’ve been harping on about the brilliance of the Grand Canal Theatre for ages at this stage and it appears that many people agree. The Theatre had a stunning 2010 and bucked the trend in recession hit Ireland. 2011 is going to be another big year for the guys down in the stunning venue with a host of fanctastic shows including Calendar Girls, Josephs & His Technicolor Dreamcoat, Peter Pan, Greece, Mamma Mia and Sister Act to name just some of the shows coming to Dublin this year. But the big one for us is the Sound of Music. Maybe it is the child in me but I think this particular tale holds a special place in most people’s hearts…particularly after the festive season when the film is strewn across the small screen. Sound of Music runs in the Grand Canal Theatre from the 4th to the 30th of April. Click here to book the Theatre Package.

The Script at Aviva Stadium - These lads are really making a name for themselves across the globe but their success at home is literally stunning. Three night's in The O2 sold out in March and then they return for the big one...a sell out show in the Aviva Stadium. One of the reasons that I like these lads, apart from the fact they release consistently good music, is that they are so humble. They may be international start but the fact that they've sold out the Aviva Stadium is not lost with them. On a recent appearance on the Graham Norton Show the lads could not hold in their excitement about playing the venue...much to the confusion of Norton, who despite being Irish claimed ignorance to its existence. Hmm!!! The Script play the Aviva Stadium on the 2nd of July.

All Ireland Finals - Attended the Tipperary/Kilkenny final last year with a friend from the UK and both us went away equally impressed. It is hard to comprehend that these ridiculously talented sports men play the sport for nothing. Apparently a group of American troops stopping over in Shannon on their way to a year's tour of duty in Iraq were so inspired by an ad they saw on TV in the airport that they started their own team. Now the American military are making available the sloitar, hurleys and helmets available to all serving troops. They need to get down to Croke Park in September to really appreciate the spectacle. A must...if you can get a ticket that is.

Riverdance - Behind Guinness and U2, is there another Irish brand that stands out so clearly to tourists? Well to be fair to the tapping feet of the Riverdance crew they are much more than a brand and their highly and acclaimed spectacle returns to the Gaiety Theatre this summer from the 28th of June till the 28th of August. I've seen it around five times at this stage. Roll on the sixth. I’ve a feeling this show is going to become a permanent fixture every summer in Dublin, although that is a statement of the obvious considering it has been running in the Gaiety Theatre for 150 years at this stage. It is well worth the visit…even for the atmosphere after the show when everyone spills out on to St Stephen’s Green. Riverdance runs in the Gaiety Theatre from June 28th – August 28th. Click here to book the Package.

U2 - Rumors were rife around the internet last year that Dublin's favorite sons were going to make an October appearance in the Aviva Stadium but unfortunately it didn't happen. Well U2 are due to finish off their World Tour in Europe this year and the Beautiful Day hit makers are almost certain to make the Aviva Stadium a date...maybe up to five times???? Fingers crossed. Watch this space.

Dublin Theatre Festival – The Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival is dedicated to presenting the very best of national and international theatre every Autumn…or so tells us. I’m a novice when it comes to theatre but the one thing I do know is that Ireland produces a serious amount of talented actors, writers and directors. Liam Neeson, Colm Meaney, Peter O’Toole, Brendan Gleeson, Neil Jordan, Colin Farrell, Jim Sheridan, Roddy Doyle, Soirse Ronan, Cillian Murphy, Richard Harris, Martin McDonagh and Paddy Breathnach to name just a few. Dublin also boasts some of the most renowned theatre’s on the planet with the Abbey and the Gate in particular having hosted some of the greatest stage productions. Check out the aforementioned website for announcements. The Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival runs from September 29th till the 16th of October.

If I missed anything let me know. But special mention to the Dublin Chinese New Year Festival (1st – 14th Feb), Jameson Dubln International Film Festival (17th – 27th Feb), Dublin Book Festival (March 4th – 6th), Carling Nations Cup (February 8/9th and May 24th – 29th), AIB Street Performance World Championship (June 16th – 19th) and Bloomsday Festival (June 16th – 19th).

Yours Ollie McGrath.