Thursday, September 30, 2010

Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland

Aviva Stadium, a €410 million four level state-of-the art facility opened in May and has a seating capacity of 50,000. Aviva stadium was designed by Populous in conjunction with local Dublin-based Scott Tallon Walker. Populous, one of the world’s leading sports architecture firms, had previously been involved in projects such as Reliant Stadium, Heinz Field, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards and the Sydney Olympic Stadium.

What an exciting venue to host the Notre Dame v Navy rematch in 2012! The two colleges previously played in Ireland in 1996 when Notre Dame triumphed over Navy in Croke Park. Notre Dame and Navy have played continuously since 1927, making the Notre Dame/Navy rivalry the longest continuous intersectional rivalry in college football.

“To see this stadium is to believe it has to be one of the finest venues in the world,” said Chet Gladchuk, the Naval Academy Director of Athletics. “Although modest in capacity, few stadiums anywhere has attended to the detail, aesthetics and fan comfort found at Aviva. I guarantee those who travel to Ireland and attend this event will enjoy an experience that will be awesome and a memory not to be forgotten. Navy is very much looking forward to our visit and the wonderful experience we expect our coaches, players, fans and friends will enjoy.”

Welcoming the event Aviva Stadium Director, Martin Murphy, said: “We are all delighted that Navy has chosen Aviva Stadium for their game against Notre Dame in 2012”. “We fully realise just how important this game is in the U.S. sporting calendar and we are looking forward to hosting what will undoubtedly be a fantastic event. The selection of Aviva Stadium for this game is a huge endorsement of the stadium and it is a terrific boost for Irish tourism as I have no doubt the teams’ fans will travel in great numbers. We are confident they will have a memorable time in Ireland.”

Be part of the excitement!

Over 12,000 Notre Dame fans traveled from the US to be a part of the 1996 Notre Dame and Navy game.  The draw for the 2012 Notre Dame v Navy rematch is expected to be far larger than the 1996 game and seats are filling quickly.

Now is the time to reserve your guaranteed space!


Learn more

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Irish Road Bowling

The ancient sport of Irish Road Bowling is played on public roads throughout West Cork, offering boisterous competition, cheering fans and shouting wagers. Travelers who happen upon an Irish Road Bowling game sometimes feel that they’ve stepped into an alternate universe. But can be quickly filled in by a number of onlookers.

The game is similar to golf only the “bullet” is lofted towards a finish line. The player or team with the fewest shots wins the game. The iron ball used is the size of a tennis ball, weighing 1.75 pounds.With distances along country roads being up to 4 km, great skill is used to loft bullets around tight curves and negotiate gradients.

Irish Road Bowling has been played throughout Ireland longer than anyone can remember. History suggests that Irish Road Bowling was once more widespread than it is today with games being played in Scotland, the north of England and in North America up until the 19th century. Today, Irish Road Bowling is being reintroduced into the Irish communities throughout the world but most games can be viewed only in County Cork and in the extreme north of Ireland in County Armagh. Both areas have their own unique styles of game.

As the game is played on public roads (usually secondary), it is advised when approaching a host of men on either side of the road, shouting and peering intently to pull over and follow any advice given.

Irish Road Bowling is quite an exciting sport with bets on both sides, inciting shouting and wagers often giving advice to the bowlers. The event can be quite a spectacle and one really good way to learn more about the history of Irish sport.

If Irish Sports is your fancy, you can also check out the GAA Museum and Croke Park in Dublin. Croke Park is somewhat famous among Americans for the 1996 Notre Dame v Navy game and is the suggested host for the upcoming 2012 Notre Dame v Navy rematch. Learn more about this exciting Irish sporting event at Celtic Tours.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

10 Family Friendly Dublin Activities

Dublin is a thriving, vibrant city with plenty to offer families. In addition to permanent attractions there are countless outdoor activities, festivals, arts and entertainment though out the year.

1. The Chocolate Warehouse

Learn how chocolate is made. A hands-on experience, where you get to make, package and take home your own chocolates.

2. The GAA Museum and Croke Park

Croke Park
Dublin, Ireland
The GAA Museum was established to commemorate, recognize and celebrate the GAA's enormous contribution to Irish sporting, cultural and social life since its foundation in 1884. Located in Croke Park, the proposed location of the famed Notre Dame vs Navy, 2012 game.

3. Imaginosity, Dublin’s Children’s Museum
Dublin, Ireland

Based on the concept of “Hands On, Minds On” learning, Imaginosity is a place where creative learning and play connect!

4. National Leprechaun Museum

"An Uaimh" (The Tunnel)
Leprechaun Museum, Dublin
A visit to the National Leprechaun Museum takes you on a journey through the sounds and sights of mythical Ireland, land of the Leprechaun!

5. Dublin Writers Museum

At the Writers Museum, Dublin’s literary celebrities from the past three hundred years are brought to life through their books, letters, portraits and personal items.

6. Lambert Puppet Theater

The Lambert Puppet Theatre creates and presents its own productions at the Theatre. The Puppet Theatre also plays host to visiting puppet companies as well as the annual event The International Puppet Festival.

7. Dublin Zoo
Dublin Zoo
Dublin, Ireland

Lions and tigers and bears! Oh my! Dublin Zoo is one of Ireland's top visitor attractions and is located in the Phoenix Park, Dublin 8.

8. Dublinia & the Viking World

Dublinia & the Viking World
 Dublin, Ireland
Lose yourself in VIKING & MEDIEVAL DUBLIN! Dublinia is an unforgettable experience in a historically important location at the heart of Dublin City.

9. National Wax Museum

National Wax Museum
Dublin, Ireland
There are so many figures to see, from historical to mythological, and world famous to national heroes. Kids will thoroughly enjoy the "Children's World of Fairytale and Fantasy". This is an entertaining adventure for kids in Dublin as they wander through the Fairytale Kingdom in search of the magical lamp and the genie!

10. National Museum of Natural History

The National Museum of Ireland - Natural History has approximately ten thousand animals on display which have been drawn from the museum's collections of over two million specimens. These collections have been accumulating for over two centuries. Today this zoological museum encompasses outstanding examples of wildlife from Ireland and the far corners of the globe, some still to be seen today and others long extinct.

More information on Celtic Tour's Ireland Vacations

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bunratty Castle & Folk Park

The most complete and authentically restored and furnished castle in Ireland, a colorful folk park and the famous Bunratty Castle Medieval Banquets. This is one tourist attraction you are not going to want to miss!

Bunratty Castle, North Munster, is sited on an original Viking Trading Camp which dates back to around 970 and is the last of four castles to be built on the site. The present castle was built in 1425 by the McNamara family and remained in their possession until 1475. In the 17th Century the castle was the palace of the Earls of Thomond and was surrounded by gardens and a great deer park. The castle passed through many hands before falling into disrepair. In 1954, Lord Gort purchased the estate and returned it to its former glory. It is now the most complete and authentically restored and furnished castle in Ireland and it has been open to the public since 1960.

Bunratty Castle is a large tower house, a particular type of stone structure, built for defensive purposes as well as habitation. Tower houses appeared since the Middle Ages, especially in mountain or limited access areas, in order to command and defend strategic points with reduced forces. At the same time, they were also used as a noble's residence, around which a borough was often constructed.

Alongside the Castle is an extensive folk park, particularly popular with families, tourists and schools. The Folk Park is a colorful illustration of Irish life in the 19th and early 20th Centuries. Buildings range from the landlord’s house to the smallest peasant cottage, along with an assortment of village shops, a smithy, two watermills and an excellent collection of old farm implements. There are live demonstrations of bread baking, weaving and pottery making. The 19th century walled garden has been re-created to grow fruit, vegetable and flowers as it did when it was the source of supply to Bunratty Castle.

The famous Bunratty Castle Medieval Banquets were first held in the early 1960s and the event has grown stronger ever since. This is a dinner experience not to be missed! Each night the Ladies of the Castle, aided and abetted by the Earl of Thomond’s Butler, welcome guests from the four corners of the globe to dine at The Earl’s Banquet at Bunratty Castle. The entertainment provided by the world renowned entertainers is a fitting compliment to a mead reception in the Great Hall of the castle, a four course traditional feast and of course good wine.

If it’s Medieval Ireland you are interested in, the Bunratty Medieval Banquet is not to be missed. You can add the Banquet onto any Celtic Tours package to Ireland for $89 PP, entertainment and 4 course meal included. Learn more about Celtic Tours Ireland Packages.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Dublin City Hall

Amazing history and impressive architecture: 1000 years of Dublin history contained under the atmospheric vaults of Dublin City Hall. Adjacent to Dublin Castle, Dublin’s City Hall has been the site of major historical events. Most notably, Easter 1916, Dublin City Hall was occupied by the rebel forces.

Originally erected in the late 1700’s, Dublin’s City Hall was formerly the Royal Exchange. The Exchange was a place where the business men of Dublin could buy and sell goods and then trade Bills of exchange. As it was close to the Customs House, it was handy for traders and merchants, landing in Dublin from overseas.

The neo-classical building contains a central entrance hall or Rotunda, with a large dome supported by twelve columns which is surrounded by an ambulatory where the merchants strolled and discussed business meetings. Dublin City Council have owned the building since 1851 and have recently restored it to its original beauty.

“The Story of the Capital” Exhibition in the atmospheric vaults of Dublin City Hall, is an exciting multimedia exhibition which traces the history of Dublin City. It tells of the city’s founding, through Viking times and into the unique and vibrant city today. Treasures of the city such as the Great Sword and mace of Dublin and the Lord Mayor's chains come together with video, medieval manuscripts, interactive computer displays and period costumes, to tell the story of the capital city.

For those who want to know a bit about the history of Dublin, the exhibition takes just one hour and tells over 1000 years of the history of this unique and ever changing city. From trade to war, Dublin has had a colorful past. Learn all about it at Dublin's City Hall on your next Ireland Vacation with Celtic Tours.

Dublin City Hall
Lord Edward St.
Dublin 8

Friday, September 10, 2010

James Joyce Museum

Statue of James Joyce
on North Earl Street, Dublin

Located in one of the world’s most famous literary landmarks, Martello Tower, which was featured in the opening chapter of Ulysses, The James Joyce Museum is not to be missed!

James Joyce was a literary giant, considered one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. Joyce, along with others, was a key figure in the development of the modernist novel. Though most of Joyce's adult life was spent in continental Europe, his fictional universe does not extend much beyond Dublin, and is populated largely by characters who closely resemble family members, enemies and friends from his time there; Ulysses in particular is set in the real streets and alleyways of the city.

Joyce’s major works include: Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Exiles and Poetry, Finnegan’s Wake and Ulysses. Joyce's Ulysses is a novel of eighteen "episodes," all set in Dublin, Ireland, between 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 am, June 16-17, 1904. The three main characters are a young school teacher and aspiring writer named Stephen Dedalus (the main character of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man), a middle-aged Jewish advertising salesman named Leopold Bloom, and Leopold's wife, Molly Bloom. The plot and theme of James Joyce's Ulysses center on life as a journey. Joyce based the framework of his novel on the structure of one of the greatest and most influential works in world literature, The Odyssey, by Homer.

The work and life of Joyce is celebrated annually on 16 June, Bloomsday, in Dublin and in an increasing number of cities worldwide.

The James Joyce Museum is just a short walk from Dun Laoghaire, in Sandycove, South County Dublin, in Martello Tower, which was originally built by the British as a defense against the expected Napoleonic invasion. The museum houses a large collection of Joyce memorabilia including letters, photographs, first and rare editions and personal possessions of Joyce, as well as items associated with the Dublin of Ulysses.

Visit The James Joyce Museum on your Celtic Tours City Stay. Learn more about Dublin City Stays with Celtic Tours.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Trinity College & The Book of Kells

Trinity College is famed for its great treasures including the Book of Kells, a 9th Century illuminated manuscript, the Books of Durrow and Armagh and an early Irish harp.

The 690 page Book of Kells is the centerpiece of the “Turning Darkness into Light” exhibition which attracts over 500,000 visitors to Trinity College every year. Written around 800 AD, the Book of Kells contains a richly decorated copy of the four gospels in a latin text, written on vellum (prepared calfskin). The script is embellished by the elaboration of key words and phrases and by an endlessly inventive range of decorated initials and interlinear drawings. This massive book was originally a single volume, but was rebounded into four volumes in 1953 for conservation reasons.

The illustrations and ornamentation of the Book of Kells surpass that of other Insular Gospel books in extravagance and complexity. The decoration combines traditional Christian iconography with the ornate swirling motifs typical of Insular art. Figures of humans, animals and mythical beasts, together with Celtic knots and interlacing patterns in vibrant colours, enliven the manuscript's pages. Many of these minor decorative elements are imbued with Christian symbolism and so further emphasise the themes of the major illustrations.

The origin of the Book of Kells is generally attributed to the scriptorium of the monastery founded around 561 on Iona, an island off the west coast of Scotland. In 806, following a Viking raid on the island, the Columban monks took refuge in a new monastery at Kells, County Meath. The Book of Kells has been on display at Trinity College in Dublin from the mid 19th century.

Trinity College was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth and today is recognized internationally as Ireland’s premier university and is 43rd position in the top 100 world universities. The College builds on its 400 year old tradition of scholarship to confirm its position as one the great universities of the world, producing many famous graduates over the centuries such as Edmund Burke and Oliver Goldsmith. Located in the heart of Ireland’s capital on its 40-acre site, Trinity College retains some of its ancient seclusion of cobbled squares, gardens and parks.

Trinity College and the Book of Kells is a featured stop on Celtic Tours Celtic Dream Premier Escorted Motorcoach Tour of Ireland. Learn More

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Doors of Dublin

The colorful Doors of Dublin are a steadfast tribute to individuality. Forced to adhere to the strict Georgian style and architectural guidelines, the former Georgian Dublin residents painted their front doors whatever color they fancied, added ornate knockers, elegant fanlights above the door and wrought iron boot scrapers near the entrance. Where once, these doors were all the same color, they became a festive array of colors setting their selves apart.

Of course there are several colorful stories behind the colorful doors that are found on the Georgian town houses south of the Liffey and are an established visual attraction in the capital. Dublin’s equally as famous Georgian Squares were laid out during the Hanoverian period in the 1700s as the city attracted new wealth and rejuvenation.

Before then, Dublin was considered no more than a provincial town in the British Empire, but from about 1715, anti-catholic penal laws were relaxed, which allowed many middle-class Catholics to establish themselves in trade.

At the time, Dublin was ruled by members of a Protestant upper class, descendants of English invaders from Norman, Elizabethan and Cromwellian times. Known as the Protestant Ascendancy these settlers began to push for reforms, better conditions and rights for Catholics and for greater autonomy for the Irish Parliament. Dublin’s Protestants began to build their elegant new Georgian homes beyond the walls of the medieval town.
From the 1950’s onwards, these Georgian homes along with their colorful doors were seen as a relic to Ireland’s colonial past and were destroyed to make way for utilitarian office blocks and government departments. Tourists and the infamous poster “The Doors of Dublin” saved these buildings from certain annihilation.

“The Doors of Dublin” poster was collaged by Bob Fearon, head of an ad agency in NYC who had been in Dublin on a commercial shoot. Struck by the symmetry and beauty of the Georgian doorways, he took photos of forty or more of them for a personal project. Upon completion of the collage, he showed it to Joe Malone, North American Manager of the Bord Failte at the time, who thought it would be perfect for his Irish Tourism office display window on St. Patrick’s Day. The Irish Tourist Board thought so too and bought the rights to the collage. In turn, the Irish Government began to wake up to the rich potential of tourists with their cameras who were drawn like magnets to the squares and halted destruction of these famous buildings. The end result was a poster which became a history-making award winner all over the world.

Experience the history behind the array of colorful doors on a self guided tour of Dublin with Celtic Tours. Learn more about our Dublin Vacations.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Ha'Penny Bridge: Dublin, Ireland

Although there are over 20 bridges crossing the River Liffey, none are as popular as the Ha’Penny Bridge. The Ha’Penny Bridge is a pedestrian only bridge over the River Liffey in Dublin, Ireland, providing a great shortcut from the Temple Bar to the North Quays. Though the official name is the Liffey Bridge, it is commonly referred to as the Ha’Penny Bridge because anyone crossing was charged a toll of a half penny. The toll was dropped in 1919, and visitors are free to cross.

Before the Ha’Penny Bridge was built, the only way to cross the River Liffey was by ferry. These ferries were operated by a William Walsh, and were in bad condition. Walsh was informed that he had to either fix them or build a bridge. Walsh opted to build a bridge. The bridge was built in 1816 of cast iron.

It is estimated that over 20,000 people cross the bridge daily. Though most people are on their way to or from work, tourists will find themselves crossing it at least once during their visit.
The Ha’Penny Bridge was recently restored to include period lanterns. The bridge is lit up at night, providing a pretty scene against the dark water of the river. Considered one of the most photographed structures in Dublin, it is a big draw. For all those who want to include a bit of Dublin history in their pictures, the Ha’Penny Bridge is a must photo-op!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Kilmainham Gaol

The Kilmainham Gaol is a former prison, located in Kilmainhamin Dublin, which is now a museum. Steeped in Irish history, the Gaol pays tribute to the historic importance of the men and women who were held or died here for their nationalist ideals.

The Kilmainham Gaol offers a panoramic insight into some of the most profound, disturbing and inspirational themes of modern Irish history. Giving the visitor a dramatic and realistic insight into the conditions of those confined here during the 128 years that it served as a prison. When the Gaol was first built, public hangings took place at the front of the Gaol. This practice was mollified in the 1820’s when fewer hangings took place at Kilmainham.

Conditions were poor at best. Prisoners spent most of their time in the cold and dark, given only 1 candle for light and heat. With cells holding up to 5 prisoners: men, women and children, the candle was to last two weeks. Children were sometimes arrested for petty theft, the youngest said to be a seven year old boy, while many of the adult prisoners were deported to Australia.

Over the 128 tenure, the Kilmainham Gaol’s cells held many of the most famous people involved in the campaign for Irish independence. The British imprisoned and executed the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising here. Such names as Robert Emmet and Charles Stewart Parnell are associated with the Gaol.
Kilmainham Gaol was closed as a prison in 1924, by the government of the new Irish Free State. Following lengthy restoration, it now houses a museum on the history of Irish nationalism, offering guided tours of the building. An art gallery on the top floor exhibits paintings, sculptures and jewelry of prisoners incarcerated in prisons all over contemporary Ireland.

The Kilmainham Gaol is a featured stop on Celtic Tours premier escorted motorcoach tour the Celtic Dream. This amazing itinerary is available in 2 options: 12 or 13 days! Other sights you will see along the way: Trinity College and the Book of Kells, Kilkenny Castle, Cobh Heritage Center, Blarney, Foynes Flying Boat Musuem, Cliffs of Moher, Rathbaun Farm, Galway Crystal Factory, Belleek Pottery Factory, Glenveagh Castle and National Park, Fort Dunree, Moville Pottery, Giants Causeway, Titanic Docks & Pumphouse…Wow, what an amazing Celtic Dream. Learn More about this tour.

Kilmainham Gaol

Inchicore Road,
Dublin City Area South,
Republic of Ireland

Networked Blogs