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A Closer Look at Belfast

September 7, 2009

Guidebooks are great when researching your trip, but sometimes it’s nice to get a closer look. Michael Phillips has helped solve that issue for those on their way to Belfast. He’s been busy creating video tours of various locations around the city… 120 to date!

Each clip includes video footage of the location and narration highlighting the the sites history and other interesting tidbits. With such a vast collection of videos to choose from, I’d suggest you start with:

Then you can move on to the rest of the collection (with a handy map) at

Chat With Pat Liddy

September 4, 2009

Pat Liddy

Pat Liddy

by Kat Behling

Today we chat with acclaimed Dublin historian, author and artist, Pat Liddy. Pat spent his childhood growing up in Phibsborough, on Dublin’s north side. After an early retirement from a thirty year sales career with Aer Lingus, Pat dedicated himself to three of his life’s passions: writing, illustrating and exploring historical places. His favorite subject: his own 2,000-year-old city where he has channeled his love of historical research, legendary tales and amusing anecdotes of Ireland’s Capital City into a unique walking tour service simply called, “Pat Liddy’s Walking Tours of Dublin”.

Pat’s love affair with his hometown doesn’t end there. Since 1984, he has authored and illustrated numerous books on the historic city. In addition, Pat’s delicate pen and ink drawings and paintings have been exhibited throughout Ireland, mainland Europe and the United States. And if that doesn’t keep this Dublin enthusiast busy enough, he also hosts a weekly radio show, “Hidden Dublin” and has teamed up with Dublin Tourism to present audio versions of his walking tours. Both his radio show and his narrated tours are available as podcasts. Welcome to the Fireside, Pat

What is your morning ritual?
Stealing an extra ten minutes in bed and always regretting it. After that, there is no fixed ritual as my lifestyle dictates that no one morning is the same as another.

What historical figure do you most identify with and why?
That’s too hard to pick on one person. I suppose I like to identify with anyone who in his life never gave up even when the going got rough and even seemed hopeless.

Which living person do you most admire?
No particular celebrity or famous person (who are often not what they seem), but my 94-year old mum who still cares about every little detail in our family and annually turns out the most admired garden of flowers in her neighbourhood. Also someone I know who is a full-time care-giver of an elderly person and always remains cheerful.

The perfect place to live is.
In your own body. If you are not happy there, your surrounding environment will be ultimately irrelevant to your happiness.

Name one place in Ireland you think visitors should not miss.
Newgrange in County Meath. 500 years older than the Pyramids of Egypt, it is the world’s oldest existing roofed building and was once the centre of a very sophisticated civilisation over 5,000 years ago.

Who is your favorite writer?
I simply don’t have one. I read mostly historical or popular science books and the subject rather than the writer appeals to me.

How would you describe your sense of humor?
It is always on duty 24/7 and being somewhat irreverent, it can ambush even the most solemn occasion.

What music are you listening to today?
Handel is my favourite composer and my musical tastes range principally from the medieval period to the baroque. Old-fashioned jazz is a nice contrast I appreciate from time to time.

What three things are you most grateful for?
My family, my health and my love of live.

Name one trait you most deplore in yourself.
Being a bit self-centred.

Name one trait you most deplore in others.
Rudeness and aggression to promote self-interest.

In the event you are reincarnated, what would you like to return as?
Just me – with another chance to have more time to achieve my more ‘noble’ ambitions without the need to make money for plain survival, to be more calm and more generous with my time for others. In this life I am unlikely to succeed in these aspirations.

What is one of your most treasured memories?
Family holidays or snuggling in with my children when they were very young to watch a film on TV we all enjoyed.

What is your favorite meal?
Not so much the food (as I enjoy most cuisines) but the company gathered around candlelight, especially family meals, no matter how humble the fare.

What is your favorite Irish tradition?
Attendance at the annual Christmas performance in one of our cathedrals of Handel’s ‘Messiah’ (which was first performed in Dublin in 1742).

Which of your podcast walking tours would you recommend for a first time visitor to Dublin?
Perhaps ‘Viking & Medieval Dublin’ to get a sense of the very beginnings of Dublin (see

Your philosophy on life is.
The triumph of optimism over experience.

Pat’s books include bestsellers “Dublin Today,” “Dublin Be Proud” and more recently, “Dublin A Celebration: From the 1st to the 21st Century,” the official book on Dublin and published by the Dublin City Council. The book contains almost 1000 illustrations of historic and contemporary Dublin. To learn more about Pat Liddy’s Walking Tours of Dublin and his podcasts, visit :

Originally published in our e-newsletter

Ennis Gives Muhammad Ali a Hero’s Homecoming

September 2, 2009

Muhammad Ali’s great-grandfather was born in Ennis, County Clare, and this video captures a bit of the excitement and pride coming from western Ireland. Enjoy!

Hat’s off to Production 63 on producing a truly enjoyable video momento.

93 The Auld Sod, US Immigration & Customs Pre-Clearance and Holly Kirby

September 2, 2009

Episode Guide – Podcast #93 The Auld Sod, US Immigration & Customs Pre-Clearance and Holly Kirby

We talk about Ireland’s new Pre-Clearance facility, chat about Irish dirt with Pat Burke, mention QVC’s Ireland shopping event and listen to Holly Kirby perform Carrickfergus.

CLICK THE PLAY BUTTON below to listen.

Our Podcasts are availble on iTunes – here’s our link for Techies

Show Notes


Intro Song: The Devil’s Bit by Theresa Larkin & Read more…

Aer Lingus, You’re Killin’ Me

September 1, 2009

Score one for Ireland when Shannon and Dublin airports annonced US Customs and Immigration Pre-Clearance, a new facility that allows passengers to complete all US “inspections” before leaving Ireland…the only one of its kind in Europe.

That means planes leaving the Emerald Isle can, in theory, land at any international OR domestic airport in the US, and re-connecting visitors don’t have to recheck their luggage and clear Customs and Immigration before catching next their flight.

Sounds like a great opportunity, right? The reality… opportunity missed. The service opened in Shannon last month, but Aer Lingus, the country’s major airline, has chosen not participate until the facility opens in Dublin next year.

They’ve offered a list of reasons NOT to capitalize on this unique service. In fact, outside of a few folks in Shannon, no one seems be talking about how the country can leverage Pre-Clearance to increase business and possibly re-establish Ireland as a hub for travel between Europe and the US.

Instead, Aer Lingus is riding the Economic Woes bandwagon in the press. Every day or two a new release comes out outlining their falling passenger numbers and/or revenue and/or rising costs (at least Ryan Air mixes it up a little with threats of pay-per-use potties and “standing” flights). “The economy” is quickly becoming the cop out excuse of 2009, and will likely discern the innovators from the bail-out beggers.

I must say, I’m starving for something coming from Aer Lingus that projects them into future… you know, NEWS! Alas, short-sighted fiscal reactions appear to be smothering any long-term strategy.

Ireland Expert Pat Preston has done an excellent job of outlining Pre-Clearance on her blog… you can read her post here. I must echo her sentiment, the airlines embracing the new system, Continental, Delta* and US Airways, deserve our business.

For fifteen  years, I’ve been loyal to Aer Lingus, but this fall I’ve been hit with a double-whammy… the lack of participation in US Pre-Clearance AND the suspension of the Chicago to Shannon route I usually fly.

Aer Lingus has been quick to point out that I can still fly them from Chicago to Shannon, but they fail to mention that in most cases that would require deplaning in Dublin, passing through Immigration and Customs, re-checking my luggage and boarding another flight (hey, didn’t I hear them reference that proceedure as an excuse for not participating in the first wave of Pre-Clearance?)… oh, and there’s also the fact that I’d have to take a 7am flight out of Shannon followed by the 6-hour layover in Dublin. Not cool, Aer Lingus.

I just checked; Continental and Delta have flights from Milwaukee (closer to my home than Chicago) to Shannon via Newark/JFK for LESS than Aer Lingus’ Chicago to Dublin to Shannon fare. Normally, I’d pay the extra to fly Aer Lingus, but not this year.

Who knows, I might like this new route and start earning frequent flyer miles with another airline… oh yeah, Aer Lingus did away with frequent flier rewards several years ago.

*NOTE ADDED Sept 14, 2009: Delta Airlines announced in early September plans to cease their New York to Shannon route begining Oct 4, 2009.

Have You Been Following These Headlines?

August 27, 2009

For all you foodie and craft beer lovers out there (via @AnBordBia)

Shhh. Ten Dublin Secrets…

Irish charity Trócaire going to pull out of 9 countries because of lack of funding from our government (via @Diddlyi)

Pres McAleese leads Irish tributes to Senator Kennedy

A Milwaukee Irish Fest wrap up from Read more…

Tasty Champ Delivers More Than Mashed Potatoes

August 26, 2009

Original upload by
Armida the Diva

by Kat Behling

A traditional Irish peasant dish, Champ is a simple mixture of mashed potatoes and scallions or chives. It’s served in a mound with a well of melted butter in the center and eaten with a spoon, starting from the outside and dipping each tasty spoonful into the buttery center. It’s a quick and easy side dish.


  • 6-8 unpeeled baking potatoes (i.e. Yukon Gold or Russets)
  • 6 chopped fresh scallions or chives
  • 1-1/2 cup milk, cream or half & half
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • salt and fresh ground pepper to taste


  • Boil unpeeled potatoes until tender.
  • In a pot, cover scallions or chives with cream and bring to slow boil; simmer 3-4 minutes then remove from heat.
  • Meanwhile, peel and mash potatoes.
  • Mix potatoes with cream mixture. Beat in 4 tablespoons butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • To serve, spoon the champ into a deep serving dish or four individual bowls; make a well in center and top with remaining butter. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

To reheat: Place in an over-proof dish, cover with foil and reheat in 350 degree oven.