Monthly Archives: February 2010

Five Unusual Places To Spend St Patrick’s Day

UPDATE: Check out our 2012 Guide to Planning for St. Patrick’s Day.

As everyone knows, the feast day of Saint Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint, is also a day when all things Irish are celebrated the world over. To that end, IrishJaunt has rounded up some of the stranger spots where you may be surprised to find Paddy’s Day festivities this 17 March. Stay tuned to IrishJaunt for much more St Patrick’s Day coverage in the coming weeks.

5. Beijing

Purportedly one of the highlights of the Chinese capital’s social calendar, The Irish Ball is an annual black tie dinner organized by Irish Network China featuring Irish food and Irish musicians. And IrishJaunt can personally recommend Paddy O’Sheas, Beijing’s first Irish-owned bar, as one good spot for a Guinness amid incongruous surroundings.

4. Bangkok

The Amari Watergate Hotel is the place to be in the Thai capital around St Patrick’s Day. The St Patrick’s Society’s Annual Gala Ball features Irish music and dancing, a five-course dinner, Irish drinks and even an Irish breakfast the next day all for 3,000 baht, or about €65.

3. Oslo

The Oslo St Patrick’s Day Association, an Irish expat group of some ten years’ standing, stages a colorful and, by the sounds of it, noisy St Patrick’s Day parade through the centre of the Norwegian capital each year. Dozens of Irish expats in Norway can be found on Facebook.

2. Sao Paulo

Even though it’s Brazil’s biggest city and home to some 20 million people, it still seems surprising that Sao Paulo can boast four different Irish pubs. Finnegans,  the city’s first, is somehow serving green draft beer for the occasion, which will doubtless be needed by any Irish person there to witness the somewhat off the mark bagpipes and jazz band. O’Malleys does better with four days of festivities planned.

1. Dubai

The United Arab Emirates certainly isn’t the first place you think of when you think of St Patrick’s Day, but there’s four days of festivities planned in Dubai to mark the annual celebration. Plenty of Irish drinks, dancing and food, plus a performance at Irish Village, one of the city’s Irish bars, by none other than Live Aid organizer and former Boomtown Rats lead singer Bob Geldof.

By Bill Lehane

Driving Connemara

In Ireland’s far west lies ruggedly beautiful Connemara, a place where barren purple hills rise out of the sea and unruly tufts of wild grass meet the road in wayward undulations. Continue reading

Transport Guide to Irish Airports

When visiting Ireland, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is how to get from the airport to your hotel or hostel. Here’s IrishJaunt’s no-nonsense guide to getting to and from Ireland’s airports.

For updated information on Dublin Airport’s new Terminal 2, check out this feature!

Dublin Airport

Location: Around 10km/ 6 miles north of Dublin city centre.

By Bus: Public operator Dublin Bus has two regular price buses that go to and from the airport and the city centre, but there may be very little space for your luggage. Routes 16A and 41. Adult fares around €2, pay driver with exact change only.

If you’re transferring to a national bus or train, the Dublin Bus Airlink is probably the easiest, since its 747 and 748 routes take you directly to Busaras (Central Bus Station) and Hueston (train) Station respectively. Fare €6 one-way, €10 return.

A number of private coach companies run services to the airport. Aircoach is the best of these for visitors, since it runs 24 hours a day and services the city centre and major hotels. Tickets €7 one-way, €12 return. Available online or at bus.

By Car: There are 10 car rental companies based in the Arrivals Hall, including several international brands. Some require advance booking.

To get to the city centre, follow the airport signs for Way Out and then take the second exit at the Airport Roundabout, signposted Dublin. Follow the signs for Dublin or City Centre that will take you on the M1 and M50 motorways, and then the N1 national road into the city. If you’re coming back from elsewhere in the country, follow the signs for Dublin until you reach the M1 motorway, and then follow the signs for Dublin Airport. Make your own route map with AA Ireland’s Route Planner.

By Taxi: Taxis have good access to Dublin Airport, with drop-offs outside Departures and pick-ups at the Arrivals level. There is a special surcharge for airport journeys, so don’t expect it to be cheap. A fare to the city centre may cost up to €20-30. More information on fares is available from the Taxi Regulator.

Belfast International Airport

Location: Around 28km / 18 miles northwest of Belfast.

By Bus: The Airport Express 300 runs 24 hours a day from outside the terminal exit between Belfast International Airport and the city centre. The trip takes about 30-40 minutes, and costs £7 one-way, £10 return. Ulsterbus runs a bus service to Lisburn rail station and Antrim bus and rail stations. Look for route 109A. The Airporter bus runs a regular service between Belfast Airport and Derry city.

By Car: There are six car rental companies at Belfast Airport, mostly located in the Arrivals Hall. Some require advance booking.

Arriving from Belfast city take the M2 northbound up to Junction 5, then take the A57 to the airport. Coming from Dublin is quite direct but you may get confused as you will change from M1 to A1 and back to M1, and then the A26 to the airport.

By Taxi: A taxi rank is located outside the right-hand door of the airport exit lobby. The official taxi company takes online bookings.  Fares can be up to £30 or more depending on your destination.

Cork Airport

Location: 8km/ 5 miles south of Cork city centre.

By Bus: National bus company Bus Eireann has a direct coach line servicing Cork Airport, the city centre and Cork Bus Station. Adult fare €4.50.

City Link runs six daily coach services from Cork Airport to Galway and Limerick. Adult fares from €12.

Sky Link runs coaches 19 hours a day between Cork Airport and Cork city centre with stops at major hotels and hostels. Adult fare €5 one-way, €8 return.

By Car: There are 9 car rental companies based in the Arrivals Concourse, including several international brands. Some require advance booking.

To get to the city centre, take the N27 and follow the signs for Cork and then City Centre. On your way back take the N27 when coming from north, west or east of Cork or take the R600 if you’re coming from Kinsale. Make your own route map with AA Ireland’s Route Planner.

By Taxi: Taxis are located outside the main terminal. Average fares to the city centre or bus/rail stations are €10-15.

Shannon Airport

Location: Around 24km/ 15 miles from Limerick City and 22km / 13 miles from Ennis, County Clare.

By Bus: National bus company Bus Eireann has regular services to surrounding cities and towns from Shannon Airport. For example, adult fares to Limerick City are €5.80 one-way, €8 return.

City Link provides a coach service from Shannon Airport to Galway City. Adult fare €17.

By Car: There are 8 car rental companies based in the Arrivals Concourse, including several international brands. Some may require advance booking.

To get to Limerick from Shannon Airport, take the N18 national road Southbound; to Clare or Galway take the N18 Northbound; to Cork take the N20 Southbound; to Kerry take the N21 Southbound; to Dublin take the N7 Eastbound.

On the way back if you are arriving from Dublin, take the N7 Westbound; from Clare or Galway, take the N18 Southbound; from Limerick take the N18 Northbound; from Cork take the N20 Northbound.

By Taxi: The Shannon Airport Cab Service operates from the Arrivals Hall. You can book your taxi in advance online. Average rates to nearby towns include: €10 to Shannon Town Centre, €35 to Limerick City, and €35 to Ennis.

Ireland West Airport – Knock

By Bus: National bus company Bus Eireann runs 14 buses a day to the airport on its Derry-Sligo-Galway route, no 64.

By Car: There are eight car rental companies based at Knock airport, including several international brands. All can be booked online.

Ireland West Airport is located on the N17 national route, halfway between Galway and Sligo. Driving distances to other towns and cities varies. Make your own route map with AA Ireland’s Route Planner.

By Taxi: A number of cabs are licensed to operate outside the terminal building. To book ahead, get their numbers here.

City of Derry Airport
Location:  11 km /7 miles northeast of Derry City

By Bus: Ulster Bus No. 143 runs from Foyle Street Bus Station in central Derry – where buses from the Republic of Ireland arrive – to the City of Derry Airport. The company also has a service to the airport from Coleraine, County Derry.

By Car: There are six car rental companies based at City of Derry Airport, including several international brands. Some can be booked online.

When driving to the airport, if you’re coming from outside the city, follow road signs for Derry (A6), and then look out for the A2 road to Coleraine, which will take you straight to the airport.

By Taxi: There’s a taxi rank directly outside the airport terminal. Typical fares to the city centre are around £12.

Belfast City Airport
Location:  5km / 3 miles east of Belfast city centre.

By Bus: The Airport Express 600 runs 17 hours a day between the airport and Belfast city centre. Fares £2 one-way, £3 return. The Metrobus No. 3 operates from near the airport to Belfast City Hall, while the Airporter runs a coach service to and from Derry City.

By Train: Translink operates a rail service from Belfast city centre – including Central Station, where trains from the Republic of Ireland arrive – to Sydenham, from where you can catch a regular shuttle to the airport. Fares around £1.50.

By Car: There are four car hire companies represented at the airport, Avis, Budget, Hertz and National. If approaching Belfast on the M1 or M2, follow the signs for Belfast City Airport onto the M3 and then A2, where the airport is located at Sydenham Bypass Road.

By Taxi: There’s a taxi rank directly outside the airport terminal. Typical fares to the city centre are around £8.

By Bill Lehane

Cork’s Best Pubs: A 10-Step Guide

Cork is a good city to visit when it comes to going out for a drink or two – it’s got a compact city centre that leaves you free to try lots of different bars without worrying about taxis or night buses to get you back to your hostel or hotel. To that end, here’s IrishJaunt’s ten-step guide to the best bars in Cork City – everything from old man pubs to gastropubs to nightclubs.

1. The Best Sports Bar

Reardens, Washington Street

If you’re looking for a place to watch the match on the big screen, then Reardens is definitely the place to go. They show all the big GAA, soccer and rugby games, plus there’s a nice traditional feel to the place that never hurts a pub’s atmosphere.

More options: The Rob Roy, Cook Street; the Mardyke, Sheares Street.

2. The Best Old Man Bar

The Welcome Inn, Parnell Place

This bar has everything you would expect in an old-style pub: it’s tiny, full of wood, hosts plenty of regular barstool characters and and is decked out in old photos of the city.

More options: Cissie Young’s, Bandon Road; Dennehys, Cornmarket Street; the Hi-B Bar, Oliver Plunkett Street.

3. The Best Bar For Foodies

Bodega, Coal Quay

Nestled in a former market building that dates back to 1843, the Bodega styles itself as the city’s most elegant venue for drinking, eating and dancing. It’s got lots of great menu options you won’t find in too many places in the city such as Spanish tapas, gourmet salads, a few dozen wines and even a cheese plate. There’s also a nice selection of open sandwiches and a design-your-own burger.

More options: Clancy’s Bar, Princes Street; Newport, Paul Street.

4. The Best Bar For Trad Music

An Spailpin Fanac, South Main Street

Located opposite the former Beamish brewery, this very old pub is one of the best spots in the city for Irish traditional music. Dating back as far as 1779, ‘the Spailpin’ has got live music from Sunday to Thursday in cosy surroundings with a simple wooden bar, exposed brick walls and open fireplaces.

More options: An Brog, Oliver Plunkett Street; Counihans, Pembroke Street.

5. The Best Bar For Live Music

Cyprus Avenue, Caroline Street

This venue regularly hosts the best of the Irish music scene plus the occasional international artist. Ticket prices are reasonable, ranging anywhere from free to about €20. Locals usually warm up for the gig at the Old Oak pub next door.

More options: An Cruiscin Lan, Douglas Street; the Pavilion, Careys Lane.

6. The Best Beer Pub

The Bierhaus, Popes Quay

This brew pub has more than 70 different world beers to choose from, including Staropramen, Hoegaarden, Krombacher and regular monthly specials.

More options: Franciscan Well Brewery, North Mall.

7. The Best Cocktail Bar

Suas, South Main Street

If want stylish drinks in a classy setting, then this rooftop bar with views of the city and ultra-modern décor is the place for you. Mojitos and Caiprinhas are around €8.

More options: The Long Island bar, Washington Street; SoHo, Grand Parade.

8. The Best Bar For Dancing

The Savoy Theatre, Patrick Street

This is probably the city’s biggest club, with the main area holding up to 1,000 clubgoers. Resident DJs and themed clubnights regularly draw crowds to the three-roomed venue, which also hosts live music and other performances.

More options: Scotts, Caroline Street; Havana Browns, Hanover Quay.

9. The Best Hotel Bar

The Weir Bar, Jurys Cork Hotel, Western Road

The recently-revamped Jurys Cork Hotel is now a modern four-star hotel boasting a classy riverside bar, complete with outdoor seating on decking right by the Lee. If you’re after late late drinks, you will probably get them if you’re a guest here.

More options: Kudos Bar at the Clarion Hotel, Lapps Quay; Gresham Metropole, MacCurtain Street.

10. The Best Dive Bar

The Quad, Tuckey Street

This dingey pub has all the top characteristics of a great dive bar: low lighting, loud music, dodgy drunks in leather jackets and more patrons smoking outside than sitting inside.

More options: Fred Zeppelins, Parliament Street; the Pitz, Marlboro Street.

By Bill Lehane

Image courtesy UggBoy ( have fun doing it ) / Flickr

Celebrating Valentine’s Day in Ireland

Related posts: Valentine’s Day 2011 in Ireland.

Certain elements of Ireland’s identity and history play to romance. The wet, cobblestone streets, mythic love triangles and a sense of piety have always brought out a delight in love stories and the feeling that Ireland is a place for lovers. And reading the lyrical lines of a poem like Yeats’s  The Ragged Wood leaves little suspicion that there isn’t some special romance about Ireland.

All of those cliches aside, though, there are plenty of romantic antics to get up to in Ireland this 2010 Valentine’s Day, and here are a few. Continue reading

Rocking Dublin

Statistically speaking, for a city of its size, Dublin would not on paper be expected to produce any artists to dominate the world stage.

For example, China has some 138 cities with a population of between one and two million. Most of us would struggle to even name most of these, much less know of someone from there.

But the fact is, the Irish capital has magic dust when it comes to artistic creativity and fame, as U2′s global popularity makes clear. Sinead O’Connor, the Chieftains, Van Morrisson, Thin Lizzy, Christy Moore, Rory Gallagher, the Boomtown Rats (the former band of Live Aid creator Bob Geldof) and the Clancy Brothers were all either from Dublin or achieved their first success in the city.

The Dublin Rock ‘n’ Roll Bus Tour, operating since 2008, is one of the best ways to get a sense of the musical hum of the city.  This 75-minute audiovisual and panoramic tour takes in many major spots in the life and times of Ireland’s most famous musicians and writers. Points of interest include the U2 graffiti wall at Windmill Lane Studios (where the band recorded seven of their albums), Rory Gallagher Way in Temple Bar and the statue of Phil Lynott on Harry Street outside Bruxelles, one of Dublin’s most popular rock music bars.

Look out for the colorful band bus – specially imported from Nashville, Tennessee – on Westmoreland Street, just south of the river. Once you hop on and take one of its leather seats, your live tour guide will give you a comprehensive run down of all the hotspots and highlights of Dublin’s rock ‘n’ roll history, in combination with a special tour video and the passing sights outside the window.

The information-packed tour also covers some of the most famous sites in the city associated with Ireland’s many celebrated writers, including James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde, WB Yeats, Seamus Heaney and Brendan Behan.

By the end of this rock ‘n’ roll odyssey, you’re sure to be inspired to head out on the town and take in some good music. Why not head up to Wexford Street’s Whelans which, although somewhat less charming in its newly-enlarged layout, is still a great venue to find an up and coming rock act to listen to, or to simply take up a wooden corner of the bar and listen to the latest cool tunes.

Dublin Rock ‘n’ Roll Bus Tour
Departs Westmoreland Street at 12pm, 2pm, 4pm and 6pm from Wednesday to Sunday during Summer
Tickets €15
Book tickets online

By Bill Lehane