The aging “Lads of Ireland” (U2 in Dublin and the city that made them)

I make no apologies.  I am a die-hard U2 fan and will be until the day I die.  I recently saw them in concert in San Jose (California that is) and would jump at the idea of seeing them again and again.  I have tickets to see the thirtieth anniversary of the Joshua Tree album tour in May. I follow them on Facebook and Instragram and about anywhere else they let me follow them without a restraining order. Suffice it to say I was not one of the people angry about the band providing me with their new album for FREE on my iPhone.  I couldn’t have been more thrilled thank you very much.

When I first went to Dublin in 1999 U2, or “The Lads” as they are sometimes referred to in Ireland, were spoken of with a reverence generally associated with royalty or some Irish rebel historical figure.  Anything that could be associated with U2 or its members was a tourist attraction then.

The Liffey-side Clarence Hotel which is owned by members of the band and its “secret night club” were constantly strangled by tourists and cameras, fan girls sat outside of Bono’s house in Bray, the U2 graffiti wall outside of the band’s studio in the urban dockside area was covered in young people gooning out for the camera, and Slane Castle’s grounds were still humming with the memory of the band’s famous concert there in 1983.

These days the band and its fans are getting older myself included.  Their music is more introspective harkening back to a time of punk and family memory with a sense of sentimentality and sensitivity.  I am not sure today’s young people are as in to the band as they once were.  Some are instead enamored with Kardashians and ill-behaved Miley Cyruses.  Tourist bus stops that used to stop by the docks or the Clarence either don’t stop there anymore or no one hops off of the bus.  It makes me sad to think that the band is not as popular as it once was and their presence in the City that belongs to them is not as strong as it has been in the past.  But, at the same time perhaps this is just the next chapter in the art and lives of us all?


U2 Graffiti wall


U2 Graffiti wall


U2 Graffiti wall

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Cee’s Odd Ball Challenge – Ireland Edition

Odd ball items can be found anywhere.  But, here is a collection of photos I don’t think I have shared yet.  Check out the off ball side of Ireland for Cee’s photo challenge!


Random Donkey Carving in Antrim


Guinness in Baby Bottles Sign


Jail art seen through a cell door at Kilmainham Gaol


More Irish Donkeys


Waterless Boats in Galway


Large Building full of “stuffed” animals.  This deer lived a long time ago and was massive!


Animal Graveyard at Powerscourt Gardens


Animal Graveyard at Powerscourt Gardens


Strange Stones at Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland


Guinness Street Art in Dublin


To see some of my other photo challenges click here.

Clonmacnoise Monastery – County Offaly, Ireland


Located near Athlone in County Offaly, Clonmacnoise Monastary sits in a pristine location on the River Shannon.  Founded in 544 it was a center for learning with ties to the Kings of Ireland many of which are said to be buried on site.  The monastery continued to grow over time becoming quite powerful until around the 12th century.  With great power and a strong location came Viking and Norman attacks.

Highlights of the ruins at the monastery are the tower overlooking the Shannon, the Cross of the Scriptures including its magnificent religious detail, the North Cross with its hunting and fertility symbols, King’s Church which sits atop the graves of generations of Irish Kings, the Cathedral and its whispering arch, and the Fairy’s Stone.

The interpretive center is well worth a short visit as it houses the original high crosses and other important information.   It details relics found on site including the magnificent Clonmacnoise Crozier which is on display at the Irish National Museum in Dublin.  The Center even has information on the Papal visit to the ruins in 1979 by Pope John Paul II.

Clonmacnoise is a wonderful stop if you are traveling between Galway and Dublin as it is off the main highway.  It is well worth a visit with its stunning views and superb history.



My mother wanted to see a high cross in Ireland and boy is this the mother of high crosses.


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Irish Kitchen Painting Challenge – Which do you prefer?

As has been obvious in my recent blogging I visited Ireland this summer with my parents and brother and his family.  My husband was unable to join us.  He did, however, send me to Ireland with a challenge.  We currently have a simple little painting in our kitchen that depicts a cafe scene somewhere in make-believe Italy.  He asked me to take a photo of a cafe or restaurant or bar in Ireland that could be put on canvas and replace the generic Italy scene we have now.  Tell me your thoughts!?  So far he can’t decide.  I know which one I like but I am looking for outside opinions…which photo would you like to stare at every morning making coffee or every night cooking up a meal?


Charming bar scene in Kinsale?


Silly happy little bar in Dublin?


Brightly colored bar, strangely enough named after my brother, in Adare?


Bright Guinness mural from Tralee?

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Ireland’s National Museum – Dublin’s Top Attraction in the Guidebook in My Mind

When recently taking my parents to Ireland my intention was to take them to the National Archaeology Museum of Ireland on our first day in Dublin, Ireland.  We ran out of time and ended up going on our last day.  I think this was an auspicious turning of events because we were able to view artifacts of many of the places we had seen during the prior two weeks motoring through the Isle.


Three Faced Corleck Head

The Archaeology museum houses relics from many of the castles, monasteries, carved stones from burial mounds, etc throughout the Isles.  Highlights for us were the display of Celtic Gold dug up from hundreds of years of exploration through Ireland.


The Museum has a wonderful Bog Man display showing multiple bog people along with their stories, location, circumstances of their exhumation, and more.  It has a large medieval Viking display honoring Dublin’s long “connection” with the Vikings. There is a small Egyptian Collection.  The treasury houses the Cross of Cong and the The Faddan More Psalter, a book of Psalms recovered from a bog which was written around AD 800!  Prehistoric Ireland is on display as well as sacrifice and Kingship.



Clonmacnoise Crozier

Plan at least three hours to explore this FREE museum and be sure to stop for a cup of coffee at their lovely café. And did I mention it was Free?



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Saint Patrick’s Cathedral – Dublin Ireland

In honor of the Pope’s visit to the United States I thought I would take the opportunity to share some photos of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin.  Dublin is full of churches.  No church is more important or impressive than the historic Saint Patrick’s.


The church was founded in 1191.  1191!  It has seen a lot of history including King James and his Jacobites before losing in the Battle of the Boyne, Church Dean Jonathan Swift and his Gulliver’s Travels, and a choir school founded in 1432 which is still in operation.

A “door of reconciliation” is on display where it is said the 8th Earl of Kildare during a Butler/Fitzgerald dispute, where one of the group sought refuge in the church,  cut a hole in the door so the rivals could “chance their arm” by shaking on a truce.


Be sure to visit the west end of the nave, the choir isles, the ladies chapel, the Saint Patrick’s statue, the Huguenot Bell, the staircase to the organ loft, the celtic grave slab, and the Swift Memorial and graves.  Do be sure to take a moment to enjoy the garden while overlooking the architecture.






To read about some of my other Irish shenanigans please click here…

Dublin’s Temple Bar – Not for everyone

All of the buses stop here.  All Dublin roads lead here.  Every guide book tells you it is a must see.  It seems even the river Liffey flanks it attempting to keep you from leaving easily if you try.  Every young person makes plans to meet here late at night.  The history of the place is palpable.

Prepare for blasphemy here.

I don’t really like Temple Bar.  It pains me to say it because I love everything about Dublin and Ireland in general.  I love the energy and the color and the music of the Temple Bar district.  (There is live music here every night in most of the pubs.)  But, I can’t stand the crowds and I don’t like the mood of the people after dark.  If your wallet is going to get lifted it will be here.  If you are looking to get in to a fight with some drunk American college students this is your place.  I much prefer the dark pubs with local people to talk and laugh with, great hot food, traditional live music where you can actually hear it, and bars where I can actually order a pint without getting elbowed by a co-ed on their 18th birthday drinking for the first time.

I’m sorry Dublin. I am glad it is a tourist draw and I want people to keep coming and I want them to spend all their money in your city.  Maybe I am just getting old… Slante.


THE Temple Bar both a bar and a district. The place to come and have fun and drink and get crazy. Or the place to avoid if you want the real Ireland.


With energy and drinking in Dublin comes live music on the street everywhere one walks…

For more of my Ireland musings please click here

Trinity College and the Book of Kells/Library Great Hall

I have a sentimental love affair with Trinity College.  In 1999 I embarked on my first international journey attending a summer college course here learning of Irish history, politics, linguistics, archaeology, literature, poetry, theater, art, geography, music, and so on.  The program was meant as an outreach program to forward international interest in Ireland beyond U2 and Riverdance.  It was within the walls of Trinity College that I experienced the Book of Kells, a talk on Poetry by Ireland’s Poet Laureate Seamus Heaney, private archaeological tours of Newgrange and other sites, talks by current politicians, Dublin political history lessons, tickets to the theater and the Irish Movie festival, and more.  It was Irish immersion at its best.  During this time I fell in love with Ireland’s 16th century Trinity College whose history oozes from its every cobble stone.

The College houses the famed Book of Kells where visitors can see a top rate museum culminating in the viewing of the actual Book itself.  (Sorry no photos allowed!)  One could visit every day for years and still not see the entire book as a page is carefully turned each day.  I have visited this museum multiple times and can never get enough. Almost as interesting as the viewing of the book is the study of how these ancient texts were created and by whom.  One can also see the Book of Durrow and the Book of Howth.

Once visitors have had enough of the book they are led to the great hall through Trinity College’s impressive research library.  I am a book lover and there is something about historic texts housed in a gorgeous environment that warms my heart.  The library often displays some of its more interesting texts for visitors to pine over.  On this visit they were highlighting fictional heroes.  The library also displays the Brian Boru harp a prized possession of Ireland and its romantic history.  My favorite part of the library is the metal circular staircase directly to your left as you enter the library surrounded by dusty texts.  (If this could only be my study!)

Once visitors are “museum’d out” they can walk amongst the grounds of the College pondering the work of its many graduates and the thought of what is to come with its future graduates.  Graduates of interest from Trinity College are Samuel Beckett, Jonathan Swift, Bram Stoker, Mary McAleese, and Mary Robinson.  If you are lucky you can pick up a game on the gorgeous sporting grounds in the rear of the college property.






Heroes of Asgard for our Thor lovers out there


My favorite view in the library





For more on my many trips to Ireland visit me here…

Five things to do at the Guinness Store House – Dublin

No visit to Dublin is complete without a visit to the Guinness Store House.  The museum and bar are built on the hallowed grounds Arthur Guinness first built his empire over.  On the banks of the river Liffey Arthur managed a brilliant 1759 coup by establishing a 9,000 year lease for 45 pounds per year to use the boggy waters of the Liffey for his famous silky black drink.  Who would have known at the time it would become as big as it is.   Guinness is the largest maker of stout in the world after all.


The Store House has a splendid industrial feeling tour dictating the history of the drink which certainly parallel the history of Dublin and Ireland itself in some ways.  One can understand how beer is made, how the advertising industry works, and what the beer means to the Irish people.  About the time museum goers get tired they arrive at the 360 degree bar.  The bar overlooks the great city of Dublin.  Visitors can enjoy a crisp cool pint with a view in the modern and scenic panoramic bar.


Head down to the shop to adorn yourself with some Guinness swag and set out recharged in to the Fair City of Dublin.

Five things to do at the Guinness Store House

  1. Take your photo in front of Saint James Gate
  2. Enjoy the Guinness advertising history taking your photo in the interactive advertising sign
  3. Toast a pint in the 360 panoramic bar while pointing out Dublin sites from above
  4. Buy a t-shirt and other mementos in the awesome Guinness shop before you go
  5. Walk around the corner and see Arthur Guinness’s family home while walking off your buzz

*If beer isn’t your thing be sure to check out the Jameson’s distillery on the North side of the Liffey.



Who can resist getting their photo taken here?


Love the advertising they had on display at the Guinness Store House


Don’t mind if I do…


How any museums let you walk around with a beer in your hand?


The dwelling of Mr. Arthur Guinness


My folks at Saint Jame’s Gate

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Kilmainham Gaol – Dublin Ireland

Kilmainham Gaol is as famous for its history as it is for its prisoners.  This former jail turned museum is a must see for history buffs visiting Dublin for the first time.  The jail was a cruel and unyielding place used to house revolutionaries as political prisoners after the Easter Rising and eventually as a free state.

The jail is not only interesting in architecture and function but its history mimics that of Ireland itself.  Built in 1796 it was supposed to be technologically advanced moving away from its more dungeon like predecessor.  Hangings took place outside the front door giving meaning to the reptile you find adorning the entryway.  The yard outside witnessed many a young person shot to death before their time.


A photo of the dragon who sits above the entryway where many of the early hangings took place. I took a little artistic license with it…

Within its walls it housed such noteworthies as Eamon De Valera (who went on to be President of the Irish Republic), Charles Parnell, Countess Markievicz, Padraig Pearse, Grace Gifford and Joseph Plunkett whose marriage at the jail helped turn public opinion, and so many more.


Grace Gifford married her Revolutionary husband in this prison the day before he was killed. This helped turn the tide of public opinion at the time. Grace adorned her cell with artwork during her time in prison. The ruined mural has been reproduced in the original cell and can be seen through the door hole.

After falling into a state of disrepair the jail has been restored to protect its history because, like everywhere in Ireland and particularly in Dublin, the Irish take their history very seriously.  It is important that there are visual queues reminding one of sacrifices made in the past for those of the future.

Many noteworthy movies have been filmed on location such as The Italian Job, In the Name of the Father, Michael Collins, The Wind That Shakes The Barley, and the Adventures of Young Indiana Jones.  Get to this location early as the queue fills up early and one must wait in line for a visit.  The hop on hop off bus tour visits here so be weary of crowds.  It is worth the wait and there is a safe to keep you fueled.


The main wing was heated from kitchen steam built directly below its floors


Who says you can’t find beauty and beautiful lines at a jail?



Names and statements were carved above jail cells. Some original work remains.


Drafty, cold, and damp inmates slept on the floor and were lucky to have hay to sleep on.


The yard whose walls could tell the stories of each revolutionary killed for their beliefs…


The Irish flag flying proudly in the yard where so many were killed.


Kilmainham Gaol 1787

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