Posted by: Michele Erdvig | February 10, 2019

Dinny of the Cliffs

Dinny Front fix crop


Every time I visit the Cliffs of Moher I remember Dinny. He was a tiny little man of indeterminate age wearing an old gray tweed jacket that had seen a better decade and a battered Irish cap pulled down over his sparkling eyes. The postcards he was selling were yellowing, rain-spattered and curled at the edges but we bought a few anyway for the loose change in our pockets. His stubby fingers grasped a fistful of shillelaghs and he was there in sunshine and in rainstorm.

One beautiful morning at the cliffs when the sun was splitting the stones, we arrived very early thinking to be the only ones there. Wrong! There was Dinny waiting for us at the cliffs’ edge with a broad smile on his weathered face. On that day he told us of the mermaids that haunted the cliffs and frequented the cave we had difficulty seeing. “But don’t be lookin’ at ‘em if you’re seein’ ‘em,” he cautioned. Dinny explained that those seeing the fearsome creatures (they didn’t sound like any mermaids I’d ever heard of) were doomed to soon depart this world. It was a fact. Some people he knew had met a sudden demise after viewing the mermaids.

“And how old were they when they saw the mermaids?” questioned my husband.

“Well now…” Dinny began, telling of this one who was 92 and another who was a young 81. “And then there was…” The story continued.

COM WEB afc1

My husband decided that it was worth a peek and he and Dinny proceeded to a large flat stone with no retaining wall. Dinny explained that to see the cave my husband would have to lean right over the edge—almost 700 feet down! “But don’t be worryin’—I’ve got ye!”

“I want the keys to the car,” I wisely told my husband. “Is your life insurance paid?”

Then with little four-foot-nothing Dinny holding him by the hand my husband—all six-feet-two and two hundred pounds of him—leaned over the edge of the Cliffs of Moher, saw the cave but (thankfully) not the mermaids, and survived!

Several years later on St. Patrick’s Day there was Dinny being interviewed at the Cliffs of Moher on Good Morning America! Next time we saw him he told us all about it and sold us his autobiography—-a forty-seven page booklet with his photo on the front. He autographed it for my husband. “To Barry from Dinny McMahon, Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare 6th May 1988.”

In the booklet I learned that Dinny was born in 1909 and had many wonderful adventures at the cliffs and in his mind. He met people from all over the world, was interviewed on American TV and is remembered to this day. Sadly, Dinny saw the mermaids and is no longer with us. But his memory lingers on at the Cliffs of Moher…look quick and you might see him!

Dinny ends his booklet with:

“My good friends and readers I hope it will please.
But in the near future yous are welcome to see,
My proud Cliffs of Moher going down to the sea.”


So ends his story.


Dinny Memorial afc WEB


Today at the Cliffs of Moher Visitor’s Center there is a memorial stone to Dinny. Those looking for a touch of nostalgia can even rent Dinny’s cottage, which is now a self catering rental.

© 2001 Michele Erdvig

Michele’s Irish Shop

Posted by: Michele Erdvig | March 2, 2018

Spring in Ireland

Ireland is getting ready for the 2018 season. I just attended a Tourism Ireland seminar and met many wonderful, enthusiastic Irish people who are waiting to welcome you to Ireland. As I prepare upcoming itineraries I am finding that even this early in the season accommodations are filling up quickly. Those who are visiting Ireland during the high season will want to book their reservations ASAP! Start your planning now and get a firm itinerary in place so you can enjoy your limited time in Ireland.

cherry tree walk afcR WEB

Why is spring my favorite season in Ireland? Below are my

Top 9 Spring Delights in Ireland: 

  1. The countryside is fresh and green – bursting with new life.
  2. Fluffy little lambs are gamboling on emerald hillsides.
  3. Trees and flowers are blooming in a colorful display.
  4. Daylight hours stretch long into the evening giving more time for sightseeing.
  5. The sightseeing venues that closed for the winter are open again.
  6. Delightful scents of bluebells, gorse and wild garlic perfume the air.
  7. It is festival time! No matter where you go you will run into fun things to do.
  8. There is music everywhere – on the streets, in the pubs and in the air.
  9. A warm Irish welcome awaits. Your hosts have had their own holiday breaks and are refreshed and ready to start a new season of welcoming visitors to their enchanted isle.

mt stewart bench afc

Get ready for your trip to the Emerald Isle! There is no better time to go. If you need help be sure to visit my free Ireland Travel Forum where friendly members will answer all your questions and jump-start your trip.

muckross lake horse WEB

Be sure to visit my Facebook group Postcards From Ireland where you can view thousands of gorgeous photos and videos of Ireland. They will really whet your appetite for a visit to Ireland.

Seans Pub afc


© 2018 Michele Erdvig

“Ireland Travel Expert”


Book: Ireland Dream Trip

Custom Itineraries

Michele’s Irish Shop:*

Follow Michele on Twitter

FREE Ireland Travel Forum

Join Michele’s Facebook Group: Postcards From Ireland

Posted by: Michele Erdvig | September 16, 2017

St. Mullin’s Monastic Site

St. Mullin's

St. Mullin’s Monastic Site in County Carlow was founded in the early 8th century by St. Moling (614-697 AD) with the help of Gobán Saor Ireland’s celebrated builder. It ranks in importance with Glendalough and Clonmacnoise.

St. Mullin's Cross

Set on a hill overlooking a river the extensive ruins includes a cemetery, monastery, abbey, five churches and remains of a round tower. The cemetery contains the grave of St. Moling as well as the graves of many of the Kings of Leinster and rebels of the 1798 Rebellion. Outside the walls are a high cross and a Norman motte. Open daily. Free admission.

st mullins ruins 2 afc WEB


st mullins king stone afc WEBst mullins motte 2 afc WEB


© 2017 Michele Erdvig  “Ireland Travel Expert”


Book: Ireland Dream Trip

Custom Itineraries

Michele’s Irish Shop:

Follow Michele on Twitter

FREE Ireland Travel Forum

Join Michele’s Facebook Group: Postcards From Ireland


Posted by: Michele Erdvig | January 22, 2017

The Sheelin Lace Museum

Amazing LaceSheelin Lace Museum

As delicate as cobwebs and intricate as Celtic knotwork, Irish lace is needlework turned into poetry. The best place in Ireland to find an opulent display is the Sheelin Lace Museum in County Fermanagh Northern Ireland.


The Sheelin Lace Museum is a treasure chest of exquisite handmade Irish lace beautifully displayed in a small thatched shop about four miles from Enniskillen. Owner Rosemary Cathcart has been collecting rare examples of Irish crochet lace, Limerick lace, Youghal needle lace, Carrickmacross and Innishmacsaint lace for over twenty years.

Most of the lace dates from the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentiethLace Collar century as lace-making in Ireland was stagnant during the famine years. If you are not interested in intricate handcrafted fabrics you can probably breeze through the shop and museum in fifteen minutes but those who appreciate fine art will be entranced by the painstakingly intricate detail of a lost handicraft from another era and may find themselves browsing for hours among the Aladdin’s cave of wonders.

Lace Fans

Over 400 items are artistically showcased including wedding dresses and veils, baby bonnets and christening gowns, bed linens, tablecloths, collars, handkerchiefs, parasols, fans, shawls, and anything and everything made of lace. This is the best exhibit of lace in Ireland and it is impossible to see everything in one visit. The shop is a Victorian extravaganza dripping in lace, crystal chandeliers and pearls, which sells jewelry, lace, hats, fans and many unique items you will not find anywhere else. 

Lace DressLace Gown Sleeve

The museum-quality items are expensive as should be expected for one-of-a-kind objects. Address: Bellanaleck, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, BT92 2BA. Open year round Mon-Sat. Phone: 028 6634-8052. Web: Email:

© 2017 Michele Erdvig

“Ireland Travel Expert”


Book: Ireland Dream Trip

Custom Itineraries

Michele’s Irish Shop:*

Follow Michele on Twitter

FREE Ireland Travel Forum

Join Michele’s Facebook Group: Postcards From Ireland

Posted by: Michele Erdvig | April 8, 2014

Passion for Pottery: Made in Ireland and Proud of It!

Aranware Table photo

Kara Irish Pottery: Aranware

Don’t you hate shopping for souvenirs in Ireland only to find out they are “Made in China”? You want genuine Irish products to buy as gifts and keepsakes as a reminder of your Irish vacation.

Derry born Ann Mullan passionately believes in keeping it Irish with Kara Irish Pottery. Her Aranware line of pottery has sold successfully on QVC and US gift shops. The creamy color, embossed Aran-knit designs and Irish craftsmanship combine into creative patterns for bake ware and tableware designed to compliment any kitchen. But the closure of the Derry factory where the pottery was produced has caused Ann to launch a Kickstarter project to keep Aranware production in Derry Ireland.


Ann explains, “Rather than produce Aranware overseas I want to maintain my original vision of celebrating hand crafted, heritage-inspired Tableware Collections that supports the history of Irish design and our local economy.”

Ann’s long term goal is, “to develop an online marketplace for creative products from Ireland to showcase to our Irish Diaspora the wealth of design-led products produced in Ireland.”

If you are interested in helping Ann “keep it Irish” jaunt on over to her Kickstarter project or website:

Aranware teapot



Ann Mullan

Kara Irish Pottery Ltd.

Phone: 1 (800) 430 2008


Kickstarter Project

Press Release





© 2014 Michele Erdvig

“Ireland Travel Expert”


Book: Ireland Dream Trip

Custom Itineraries

Michele’s Irish Shop

Follow Michele on Twitter

Ireland Travel Forum


Posted by: Michele Erdvig | March 11, 2014

Ireland of the Bargains: Discounts and Passes 2014

Things change quickly from year to year and some websites we have used in the past have disappeared. New ones have taken their place. I want to share up to date information about sightseeing attractions, discounts and passes in Ireland for 2014. It is possible that new ones will pop up as the year progresses. If they do I will update this article to bring you up to date.


The Heritage Pass offered by The Office of Public Works gives free admission to all their sites for a year. Purchase on their website, tourism offices and OPW sightseeing attractions. Republic of Ireland only. 

heritage island banner

Heritage Island offers 2-for-1, free and discounted admissions to sightseeing venues all over Ireland and Northern Ireland. Their booklet and pass can be purchased on their website and at tourism offices all over Ireland. I have also seen them offered free at various sights in Ireland. An app is available.

dublin pass

The Dublin Pass offers 1, 2, 3 and 6 day passes. Once purchased it offers free admission to 33 sightseeing attractions in and around Dublin. Skip the queue and go right to the front of the line plus get a free map, guide and free one-way Aircoach transfer from Dublin Airport to the city center.

clare offers 004

Clare Offers: Discounts for accommodations, sightseeing attractions, dining and shopping.

mid ireland002

Mid Ireland Tourism offers discounts for the midlands of Ireland. Included are offers for  accommodations, sightseeing, tours, golf, festivals,  etc.

banner IY New TOP


Ireland Yes discount coupons for sightseeing attractions, shopping, CDs and bus tours.  Ireland Travel Forum Hot Offers updated as they come in and hot off the press discounts and special offers.

belfast pass

Belfast Visitor Pass includes discounts on tours, unlimited travel on buses and trains within their zone (including Belfast City Airport),  discounts on admissions to sightseeing attractions, shops, restaurants, etc.

national trust

Northern Ireland National Trust. If you join the NT in NI you will get free admissions and parking at all their sightseeing venues. But unless you visit a lot of them the price is probably too expensive. However, you are donating to a good cause that preserves important houses and properties for future generations.

© 2014 Michele Erdvig

“Ireland Travel Expert”


Book: Ireland Dream Trip

Custom Itineraries

Michele’s Irish Shop:*

Follow Michele on Twitter

FREE Ireland Travel Forum

Posted by: Michele Erdvig | February 26, 2014

Craft, Craic and Cuisine: In Search of Ireland’s Craft Beer Pubs

Black Sheep Pub


By Mark Andersen

I took a very short visit to Dublin recently.  My goal for this trip was to investigate and enjoy the resurgence in Irish craft beer that has occurred in the past decade and has really taken off in Dublin with numerous pubs now open that cater to beer lovers.  Of course we all think of Guinness when we think of Ireland and Dublin in particular but quite a few small, privately owned breweries have cropped up around the country in the past decade or so brewing a really nice variety of beers not to mention the old favorites of Irish stout and red ale.  So I took a three night trip to Dublin to check it out.  Here are some of the highlights:


L. Mulligan Grocer – This pub in the Stoneybatter neighborhood on the north side of the river also has a sister pub W J Kavanagh on Dorset Street (that I didn’t manage to visit).  It is not only a great pub for the beer lover but also a place to have a fantastic meal.  I think the Sunday roast chicken was just as good as what was on tap.

Here I had an IPA brewed by Mountain Man Brewing Company in County Cork that was excellent and a Pumpkin Ale from Trouble Brewing Company in Kildare. Mulligans is a nice reminder that it’s not just the beer that has gotten better in Ireland but also the cuisine.  I remember being slightly horrified by the food in Ireland in 1990.  Now I look forward to the culinary experience when I visit.



Cobblestones Pub – Not far away from L. Mulligan’s is what I would have to say is the place to go for traditional Irish music in Dublin.  This pub is right across the street from Smithfield Square also on the north side.  They do have a few good beers on tap as well.  Mainly I just listened to the music here and had a couple of pints of Crean’s Lager which is from a small brewery just outside Dingle.  Basically an Irish lager similar to Harp but a bit er in my opinion.


The Porterhouse Brewing Company – (Temple Bar and near Trinity College).  This place has been around for a while.  It’s not an onsite brewpub but they do have their own brewery and serve all their own beers.  It’s a nice place if you are in Temple Bar or near Trinity.  I recommend their Oyster Stout where – yes – they actually do use oysters somehow in the process of making this beer.  It was funny sitting at the bar of this place and while I was there at least three people came in off the street and asked for a Guinness and were politely told that they only serve their own beers and all three people stayed and had their porter instead.

palace bar dublin

The Palace Bar – Overall maybe my favorite pub of the visit because it mixes the ambiance of an old, historical Dublin pub with the availability of some beer variety.  They had on cask the Dungarven Helvick Gold from Dungarvan Brewing Company in Waterford.   This might have been my favorite beer of the trip just because of how perfectly balance and easy a drink it was off the cask.  One of those beers you can hang your hat on for the night and have multiple pints.




Galway Bay Brewery – This brewery has opened a few tied bars in Galway and Dublin as you can see from their website.  In Dublin I visited two of the three.  Against the Grain near St. Stephen’s Green and The Black Sheep on the north side of the river.  Both nice, laid back places with a good variety of beers including those brewed by Galway Bay.


Farrington’s – honorable mention for this nice pub in Temple Bar where I got to drink the Ginger Stout that recently won a local home brew competition and is now been commercially brewed and served on tap at Farrington’s.  It’s a lovely beer.

pint 4 afc

Bull and Castle – I highly recommend this beer hall just across from Christchurch in the medieval district.  They are the first craft beer bar/gastropub to open up  in Dublin. I think and their reputation is well deserved.  Good food and a nice place and probably the most variety of Irish beers you’ll find on tap anywhere in the country.

So that’s not all the pubs I visited but the ones that stuck out the most.  We stayed at the Trinity Capital Hotel and we liked it and would stay there again.  Everything mentioned was in walking distance of it including Stoneybatter.

My only complaint is that I could have used a couple of extra days because I think there is much more to see and do and drink in Dublin.  Maybe next time.  For now I’m just starting to plan my trip with daughters to the west of Ireland in early May.

Mark’s Blog: The Beer Gnome

© 2014 Mark Andersen

beer on wall afc

Posted by: Michele Erdvig | November 13, 2013

Autumn in Ireland


Autumn Leaves in Ireland

Cobalt blue skies, dramatic storm clouds, milky soft days, crisp starry nights, misty mornings, elusive rainbows, trees bejeweled in color – autumn in Ireland is a symphony of contrasts. September usually starts off mild. As the days creep toward October weather fronts sweep through with rain and gales, giving way to frosty nights. The days shorten and the sun takes on a mellow golden hue. Wafting peat smoke tickles your nose and leaves crunch beneath your feet. 










ImageFlowers still bloom in sheltered gardens enjoying mild weather throughout the fall months. Berries line hedgerows. Golden bales of hay are harvested on Irish farms. Stormy seas foam onto the shore. Flocks of birds form graceful ballets in the sky.  The bellowing of stags punctuates silent forests.  The pulse of the land ripens and slows. 
















In October trees usually start changing from summer green to a bounty of gold, russet and crimson. Blustery weather can strip the foliage bare leaving them as branchy skeletons. But their naked limbs allow you to admire nature’s abstract sculptures.














November brings shorter days that fade delicately into long, brisk nights – perfect for snuggling before a roaring fire. Fall’s dazzling display soon gives way to the somber winter season. But come rain or come shine, Ireland’s autumn splendor of memorable vignettes will linger in the mind till this wonderful season comes round again.  


© 2013 Michele Erdvig

“Ireland Travel Expert”


Book: Ireland Dream Trip

Custom Itineraries

Michele’s Irish Shop:*

Follow Michele on Twitter

FREE Ireland Travel Forum

Posted by: Michele Erdvig | November 10, 2013

10½ Facts Every Irish American Should Know


1. More people of Irish descent live in the United States of America than anywhere else, including Ireland. 





2. The architect of the White House was Irishman James Hoban, born in County Kilkenny.





3. It is St. Patrick’s Day or Paddy’s Day not Patty’s Day. Patty is a female name.








4.  Eamon de Valera, prime minister and president of Ireland, was born in Brooklyn New York in 1882.












5.  The oldest national symbol of Ireland is the harp not the shamrock.





st brendan



6. Saint Brendan of Clonfert may have discovered America in the sixth century.






walter raleigh commons




7. In 1585 Sir Walter Raleigh planted the first potatoes from the New World in Youghal, County Cork.





potato blight commons




8. The potato blight that led to the Irish Famine of the of the 1840s originated in the United States.





st patrick blue





9. The official color of Ireland not green. Ireland has no national color, although St. Patrick’s blue has long been associated with Ireland throughout history.




john barry commons




10. Wexford born John Barry founded the American Navy.






st. patrick




10½: St. Patrick was not Irish.







© 2013 Michele Erdvig

“Ireland Travel Expert”


Book: Ireland Dream Trip

Custom Itineraries

Michele’s Irish Shop:*

Follow Michele on Twitter

FREE Ireland Travel Forum

Posted by: Michele Erdvig | August 19, 2013

Gizmos and Gadgets: Confessions of a Techno Geek in Ireland

By Robert Emprimo Bob Remprimo afc

I have to admit – upfront – that I’m a bit of a Techno Geek, so I doubtless tend to pack more gear then the average traveler to Ireland. But, after 14 years (and nearly 20 visits), I have gotten fairly consistent with my weapons of choice. I don’t do Apple. I’m neither a fan, nor a hater of Apple products. Why, my wife even owns a 4s – though it is a Sprint device and therefore would not work in Ireland, without a goodly amount of ‘hoop jumping’. Apple makes some very nice devices, but I think they are over-priced and too proprietary for my taste, so I do not buy them.

And, while I will freely admit that I spend entirely too much time on the Internet most days, I have never felt the urge to be constantly ‘wired in’. Even though I always carry a ‘Smart’ phone, I have the data connection disabled and only use it for occasional calls. I am not so gratification oriented that I can’t wait an hour or three to look up a certain fact or piece of information – using a real computer – One with a nice, big screen. Maybe, it’s an age thing?

gadgets 1 af WEB

Outlet Plug Adapters 

I normally pack two or three plug adapters to convert the Irish / UK style outlets to my US style devices. I can get by with less, but they don’t take up much room, weigh very little and they have been known to fail (or get left behind) on more than one occasion.

All of my devices are rated for dual voltage input, meaning that I neither need, nor bring a voltage converter. Other than my Ultrabook and camera, all of my devices can be charged via a USB cable of one sort, or another. I have one small, wall plug and one, 12v outlet plug (that fits the typical car cigarette lighter port), each of which has two USB outlet ports. I also purchased two retractable ‘reel’ USB cables that came with a set of interchangeable ‘tips’ (ends) that match virtually any electronic device. Excluding the plug adapters, all that paraphernalia fits into a small zippered bag that easily fits in the palm of my hand. It also has enough room for a couple of spare phone batteries, a couple of USB thumb drives, any spare SIM and SD memory cards.

The charger for my camera is smaller than a pack of cigarettes and weighs only a bit more – even with a spare battery resting within. Like-wise, the Ultrabook charger is less than half the size of a typical power ‘brick’ found on older laptops – and less than 1/3 of the weight. My Ultrabook battery usually gives me six or more hours between charges, so the inverter has been retired from travel.

hair dryer commons Hair Dryer

My wife cannot function without a hair dryer. After a couple of years of fighting the good fight (trying to use converters and one or two different, dual-voltage devices), we broke down and bought a small, basic, Irish hair drier at some small shop for about 20 Euros and we schlep it back and forth. It must be eight or nine years old and has never failed us, but she uses it less and less – as most accommodations now provide one.


As has been recommended – numerous times – carrying a small, portable flashlight is always a good idea. I found one, on Ebay for $12, with free shipping, that not only provides a bright, steady light and is rechargeable via a USB cable (see above) – but also  does double-duty as a 2800 mAh, battery booster/recharger (via the USB cables that I carry) for any of my phones! It, too, fits handily into either my pocket – or my little zippered bag. Sometimes, carrying a lot, does not require a lot of space – or extra weight.


I purchased my first digital camera just prior to our first trip to Ireland, in April of 1999. It had a maximum resolution of 640 X 480 and I managed to take some great pix – that are fine for viewing on a computer, but make for horrible prints. That trip, we also, of course, carried along a good quality, traditional film camera, as well. A couple of trips, we even dragged along our trusty, Minolta SLR and all its attendant ‘extras’ – assorted lenses, power winder, flash, etc.

As digital cameras improved, we upgraded, again and again – to 1 MP, 2 MP, 5 MP and then, to 7 Mega Pixel. I even purchased a DSLR (an Olympus) for my wife, one birthday, since she has the better eye of the two of us. I have managed to take a few good shots, though – even a blind squirrel manages to find an occasional acorn, every now and then!

Our current, ‘Go To’ camera is a Canon Powershot Elph 300HS, with 5X Optical Zoom, rated at 12.1 MP. It takes excellent pictures, fits in any pocket and is lightweight. We set it to record at Maxi mun Quality and it normally carries a 32 GB SD Memory card. I pack along a spare battery and an extra 1 or 2 SD cards – although the 32 GB will hold thousands of pictures – even at a couple of MB per image.

Other than occasionally using the built-in camera on my Nokia Lumina, the Canon is usually all that we carry, any more. Neither of us are ‘professionals’ and we harbor no illusions about making money from our photographs. Plus, to be honest, we’ve both gotten a bit jaded and lazy about picture taking – partly, I suspect, because we know that we’ll likely see these sites, again and again.

gadgets 3 afc WEB


Over the years, as I’ve acquired them, I’ve dragged a few different laptops to Ireland. The biggest drawback has been the weight. A full laptop usually weighs in at 4-5 pounds and the charger and cables usually add up to a couple more. By the time all was said and done, I was stuck, constantly lugging a 10-12 pound bag around every airport.

I hate to not have one along though, as I’ve found them to be incredibly useful tools. Having a computer enables me to down load and save my pictures on a regular basis – which has saved me from losing them on a couple of occasions. It also allows me to perform research and stay in touch. It also helps to mitigate those odd moments of boredom during long layovers and those interminable flights.

I bought a spiffy, light-weight ‘Netbook’ – under 3 pounds, ‘All-In’ – back in 2008, but I found it too frustrating to use with its undersized screen and painfully slow processing speed. Just before our 2012 Trip, I purchased a quasi ‘Ultrabook’ – a Samsung NP530U3B, which I’ve been quite happy with. It has no CD or DVD built in and unlike a TRUE ‘Ultrabook’, mine has a traditional, hard disk, not a Solid State Drive. Even though that makes it a tad heavier and slower (maybe ¼ pound) the whole package still only weighs about 3 pounds and it is still nearly as quick as my home desktop computer.

Internet Access

In 2010, I purchased a Cellular USB ‘Stick Modem’ from Vodafone, for 50 Euro, that allowed access to the internet most of the time. Connection speeds weren’t exactly dazzling, but I was using a ‘Netbook’, at that time, which did tend to aggravate the problem. I found it handy, though as WiFi was generally quite limited in most places.

That situation has changed quite a bit, of late. Over the last couple of years, many B&Bs, most hotels and more than a few pubs and eateries have begun to offer free WiFi. – joining virtually every McDonalds and the native Supermacs. Some communities – notably Dublin, but also, as recently announced, Killarney, offer widespread free WiFi.

Still, there are large parts of Ireland where free access to WiFi is not available. Stepping in to fill that void (and to generate larger profit margins) a number of Car Hire companies (notably, Hertz and Dan Dooley) have begun to offer Wireless Hot Spots for rent. These cellular-based units allow up to five devices to connect to the Internet at close to full, high speed. They can be a little pricey, though – costing from 30 Euro per week, to as much as 10 Euro per day.

On my most recent trip, 18 June to 8 July, 2013, I purchased a “3” Mobile Hot Spot from Carphone Warehouse, for 50 Euro, plus an additional 25 Euro for a 30 day ‘add on’ that provides up to 7.5 GB of data usage. During our first eight days, it got a fair amount of use, as it provided my son-in-law and daughter internet access for their Smart Phones (a Samsung Galaxy and an Iphone 4s), as well as connecting my Nokia Lumina 900, mostly, just for speedier GPS service.

Both in the car and in our rental house, it worked quite well, although finding a suitable centralized location in the stone walled, two-story building initially required a bit of experimenting. That said, there were a few instances and locations, where the device failed to work, due to poor or weak signal. Generally, though, coverage was very good to excellent – both in the Republic and in the North.

While I might have saved 15 Euro or so (on this trip) by renting, I now own the unit. On future trips, I only need to have it reactivated (by buying additional credit), so future costs will be much less expensive – by orders of magnitude. Whether or not such a purchase makes sense for other travelers likely depends upon how frequently they travel to Ireland. It makes sense to me, but then, I’m the King of Rationalization.

Irish Phone Booths


When we first went to Ireland, in 1999, there were public pay phones seemingly everywhere. Some were coin-operated and some required a plastic card to operate. You could buy the plastic cards at virtually every single shop and gas station and they were even on offer at the Post Office. Mobile phones virtually eliminated that – seemingly overnight. Nowadays, finding a pay phone has become very nearly an exercise in futility – and finding a working pay phone seems less likely than winning the Lottery!

Back in 2000, the Cousins let us use a spare mobile phone during our two-week stay and we found it tremendously useful for keeping in touch. Prior to our next visit, I purchased an unlocked Sony Ericson Tri-Band phone and a Vodafone SIM. Through the remaining years, I’ve managed to keep that account and phone number active – so we are reachable via an established and well-known number.

When the Sony proved a bit archaic, I upgraded to a Motrolla ‘PEBL’ – a Quad-Band, unlocked phone. About 2008, I upgraded once more – buying a Nokia 6110 Navigator – a Quad-Band phone that included a built-in, stand-alone GPS, loaded with maps for Ireland, the UK and the city of Amsterdam.

As you can imagine, those maps became pretty much useless after a few years, so just before this trip (Summer of 2013), I upgraded, once again. My current device is an unlocked, Quad-Band, Nokia Lumina 900, which also contains an internal GPS that does not require a data connection to function. It is a Windows phone, something I’m not thrilled with and the GPS is rather sluggish. It takes quite a while to acquire a signal without using a data assist – but the directions and mapping function and screen size –proved to be remarkably accurate and useful on this trip. Using my Mobile WiFi Hot Spot to speed up the signal acquisition really helped, though.

I don’t normally rely upon the GPS to get around, but it is extremely handy for locating ‘Off-The-Beaten-Path’ places – particularly some of the more obscure Round Towers that I have grown so obsessed with finding of late. Since I can usually secure the GPS coordinates from Google, the Lumina’s GPS proved itself unbeatable in its ability to lead me straight to their often hidden locations!

This trip, I placed my Vodafone SIM into the Nokia Navigator (since it has all my contact info for Ireland). I purchase a fresh Tesco SIM each trip, for the PEBL and use it for calls to the US. Plus, I normally have my wife carry it, in case we get separated. This trip, I gave it to my daughter and she used it almost exclusively for her many attempts to check on the status of her missing luggage.

When we entered the North, I purchased another NI Tesco SIM, to use during our time there. This was probably overkill, but I had experienced poor connectivity with my Republic issued SIMs on a previous trip and 10 GBP seemed cheap insurance.

I did not use the new Nokia Lumina as a phone, this trip, although I had recorded all of our reservation data (confirmation numbers, contact info, prices and dates) into the ‘Calendar’ and I also occasionally utilized the resident, 8 Mega pixel camera. Primarily, though the Lumina functioned as my GPS. Next trip, I’ll probably leave the PEBL at home.

 None of this should be construed as constituting a “must own” list. Everyone has their own comfort level in terms of technology and their own preferences in terms of brands and platforms. Still, my ‘necessities’ total only about 5 pounds and require minimal space. It is a set up that has and continues to work, for me – I think. But then, my wife always says that I tend to over analyze – so, what do I know?

© 2013 Robert Emprimo

Read Bob’s most recent Trip Report.

Older Posts »