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.