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)