Mapping Dublin City Centre

I have a couple of friends visiting recently from Switzerland and France. As they were arriving late in the evening, they assured me that I wouldn’t need to meet them upon their arrival and we arranged to meet the next day instead. Which we did. And the very first thing they asked me – “where are all the maps next to the bus stops?”.

Ops. Come to think of it, we don’t have those in Dublin. In fact, we don’t even normally have maps of the bus routes at the bus stops (which is rather annoying actually), least of all to expect a map of the area in vicinity. Dublin is not, unfortunately, like many European cities, where lost tourists can consult large maps adjacent to bus stops or metro stations etc.

Pat Liddy and one of the tourist information traffic boxes (Photograph by Aidan Crawley)

Pat Liddy and one of the tourist information traffic boxes (Photograph by Aidan Crawley)

Luckily, a few weeks before that, the good folks of Dublin City Business Improvement District (BID) and historian Pat Liddy (who runs excellent walking tours – I’ve been on one with him and loved it) had just launched a new initiative of using traffic light boxes as historical and tourist information points, and guess what – there’s a great map on every one of them! Needless to say, I pointed those out to my friends so they know what to look for the next time they want a city map in a jiffy.

Living in the city and with the city centre area being relatively compact, this is something that I’ve never paid much attention to. But I can imagine the difficulty visitors may face, especially those who are staying only for a weekend or so and didn’t think they would need to get a map before hand. But now, we have these amazing traffic light boxes that educate and aid orientation. Fabulous.

There are 14 of these info-boxes around the city at the moment, including on Dawson Street/Trinity College junction, Dame Street, Temple Bar, O’Connell Street and Capel Street. Of course, there are more traffic signal boxes around the city. Those not used as info-boxes are now visually enhanced with decorative art coverings.

Personally, I like these changes and I’m sure many would agree with me. Do take a look at them the next time you pass by one, or better, recommend them to your visitors. After all the efforts put in to improve the city, we should rightly appreciate and make use of them. ;-)

Dine In Dublin is back!

My, has the weather turned nippy or what? It feels distinctly autumnal, to wake up to darker sky as the day shortens and as I look out the window, the leaves on the tree are turning into shades of red and orange and all the hues in between. Meanwhile, Is it raining in Dublin? has been telling me for days that no, it’s not raining, but it IS cloudy.

Dine In Dublin

An email from a friend though provided me with a little pick-me-up – the Dine In Dublin Restaurant Week is back on Monday week! So from Monday 12 October to Sunday 18 October, there’ll be much to be indulged on the gastronomy front. Wheee!

Similar to the concept of Dining by DART just a few weeks ago, a list of participating restaurants have set out 3-course menus with tea and coffee for either €25 or €30. All you need to do now is look for the place(s) that catch your fancy and book a table. (I do wonder if l’Gueuleton will take reservation seeing they normally don’t.)

Something new for Dine In Dublin this time round is participating hotels that gives 10% discount on the lowest quoted accommodation rates. That’s pretty sweet, especially if you have visitors coming to see you during the event period.

Now, where shall I go? I have eaten in a fair few of them, and would like to try something new. Is there any restaurants on the list that you’ll highly recommend?

Open House Dublin 2009

Interested in architecture? How would you like a peek into buildings that you normally would not have access to? Not only that – you will also be given guided tour and plenty of information to satiate your quench for details.

Open House Dublin 2009

Open House Dublin.

Organised by the Irish Architecture Foundation, Open House Dublin is back, and this year will run from 8-11 October 2009. Still some time to come, I know, but as some buildings/events require pre-booking, to get some heads up about it and to have some time to plan things over is good, right? And what’s nice is, they’re all free of charge!

Here’s how it works. Have a look at this complete programme – and you should see the day(s) when particular buildings would be open for visit. Click on the name to get further information. The colour code will tell you what type of building that is, i.e. if residential, or cultural, or commercial etc.

You will also see right away which are those which pre-booking is required. Pre-booking starts today (28th September), and operates on a first come first serve basis. They may be done online.

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2nd Referendum on Lisbon Treaty

The fact that a second referendum on Lisbon Treaty is taking place on 2nd October is emminently broadcasted, whether in form of poster war, or booklet distribution, or debates on television and radio.

Lisbon Treaty

However, there are some rather dodgy information going round from both the “Yes” and the “No” camps, and I’m flabbergasted to hear some of the touted “facts” (“they’re going to make abortion legal”; “they’ll make us go to war!”; “there will be more jobs”).

Here are a few links, sites and PDF documents that are presented in plain simple English (none of the legal jibberish talk) that hopefully will help you better understand the Treaty and make decision on your vote.

To anyone who have only been listening to others talking convincingly about the Treaty, please don’t make up your mind yet until you’ve get a chance to at least look at the 2-pages summary above – it won’t take long, I promise. See for yourself if what they’ve informed you is correct.

Please do not use your vote to make political points over the currently very unpopular government – this is not the time for “protest vote”.

Please separate the issues that are at stake and vote accordingly.

Please vote based on informed decision.

Side note:

What prompted me to blog this was a friend who is a postgraduate student – so someone highly educated – who believes in the hearsays and actually told me emphatically that Lisbon Treaty will bring Ireland to war, be dictated by EU on taxation and legalise abortions. And I happened to have read these for myself and know that these were not the provisions within the Treaty. (No, said friend hasn’t read the Treaty information leaflet.)

Same goes, with another friend in the “Yes” camp, arguing that Ireland will be alienated and we’ll be losing more jobs. But these are speculative. However, with the Treaty not ratified, it does meant the EU remains embroiled in the current way it runs (which you can judge for yourself if they’re efficient or not). Also, there isn’t anything in the Treaty that promises more job to Ireland – unless ratification opens up EU for more members, thus bigger job market, and this is what counts as more job openings?

What happened to science and mathematics classes?

It’s easy to go about our days, keep our heads down and get on with our work. It’s easy to plan for our free time to be filled with leisurely activities or trips away. It’s easy too to shake our heads in disbelief when we hear/read about the golden parachutes received by folks who have little interest in anyone’s economic well-being, except, errm, themselves. Surprise, surprise.

It certainly is NOT easy though to stay unaffected after reading about follies that should not happen in the first place, and one of the latest effects vital education programme.

Mathematical cartoon from Brown Sharpie, by Courtney Gibbons

Mathematical cartoon from Brown Sharpie, by Courtney Gibbons

For a country that prides itself in a knowledge-based economy and education excellence, it is therefore incredulous when cutbacks encroach into education sector in the craziest way possible. When said cutbacks mean science and mathematics teaching in school is going to suffer. When said cutbacks mean students who are interested and talented will not have teachers/mentors who can help direct their learning.

What is the logic behind the cutbacks on something that really matters?!

Just a couple of weeks ago, a pair of 14 years old boys won the first prize in EU Young Scientist Contest in Paris, France. A couple of days later, a team of four secondary school students from Wicklow won F1 in School Technology Challenge World Championship.

Don’t these achievements say something about the need for continuous investment in science and mathematics education? That we have tremendous amount of talents that should be nurtured, not snipped at the roots.

How are the students supposed to keep up with the high standard of scientific knowledge expected of them, to move into the age of information and technology, when they lack the foundation learning to start with? How are the third level institutions supposed to produce graduates in Science worth their salt when students are discouraged from secondary school level to pursue the learning?

The cutbacks certainly aren’t saying “we are trying to encourage students to take up Science” nor “we are trying to maintain the high calibre in Science and Technology”.

Is there any common sense left?

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Happy Arthur’s Day

This video says it all – Guinness 250. Happy Arthur’s Day folks!


By the way, have you guys notice the “portrait” of Uncle Arthur in bars/clubs all over the country? The one whose eyes seem to follow you everywhere, and suddenly start to plug an iPod on to listen to music, before looking all bored and back to the portrait mode again? Such a cool marketing tool!

Ps: good luck getting a pint at your favourite local, especially if your local is one of the participating celebration venue, and you haven’t got a ticket. It’s madness in the city of the black stuff! ;)

Playhouse Animation and Baroque Orchestra

The Dublin Theatre Festival starts tomorrow, and the Culture Night is running on Friday, so here are a couple of events that may be of interest to you.

First up, in conjunction with the Theatre Festival are bringing Playhouse Animation to the Liberty Hall. The animations will run daily from dusk till dawn, 24th September to 11th October, and you can also design an animation yourself to go on the building! You can watch the behind the scene video here, or the following video taken during a test run last month to get a sense of what’s going on.


(It reminds me of the interactive Crown Fountain at Millenium Park in Chicago, minus the fountain.) ;-)

Now, onto Friday and Culture Night. As previously mentioned, some events require a reservation ahead, and the Irish Baroque Orchestra Chamber Soloists will be performing using 18th century musical instruments (oh yes, they don’t just play Baroque music, they’re trying to keep the sound as authentic as possible!) pieces by some of the greatest composers of the era including Handel, Tartini, Vivaldi and Schmelzer.

It will be held at Walton’s Music Store, 69 South Great George’s Street, Dublin 2. The event starts at 6.30pm and the performance time is 1 hour. Places are limited. To reserve your place for this special intimate performance, please send your name and address with Baroque Tickets in the subject line to and don’t forget to specify the number of attendees as well.

Have fun!

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Culture Night 2009

First of all, mark your calendar – 25 September 2009 : Culture Night. Over 120 venues will open their doors for your visiting pleasure, and in a large number of them, entertainment as well as some nibbles and drinks will also be provided. Hurrah!

culture night 2009

Main time frame – between 6pm and 11pm. But of course, there are exceptions with some early opening (e.g. Science Gallery, from 12pm), early closing (e.g. Mansion House, last tour 8pm), late closing (e.g. Gallery Zozimus, 12am), and limited hours (e.g. Dublinia, 6pm – 9.30pm).

Next, it’s time to put your organising skill in use. Download the programme (PDF file) and have a look at what you’re interested in. Some events require reservations, others simply turn up and you’re good to participate. Definitely no harm in listing out all that you want to do, plan your route and get in the booking(s) if applicable.

Look out for places that are normally ticket-paying or not open to the public – this is the perfect time to visit them without costing a pretty penny.

There will be 3 free bus routes, departing every 20 minutes from Bachelor’s Walk, Aston Quay and Trinity College, that brings you from one spot to another within the route.

There are also 50 free Luas tickets (adult 1-day all zone) available for travel on 25 September, so that culture hunters can head out to Airfield in Dundrum, or to Ranelagh, where some of the events will be held. The tickets are allocated on a first come, first serve basis, at the Temple Bar Cultural Information Centre, 12 East Essex Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2 from Thursday 24th September at 9am.

A few more things that caught our attention:

Now, seeing that this is the 4th year the Culture Night is being organised (hence there’s a bit of experience there now), we wonder if in the next year or two, the Culture Night will extend beyond 11pm/12pm closing time and extend the hours till the next morning? You know, like Nuit Blanche or Lange Nacht der Museen, effectively giving everyone a chance to go to more than just a couple of places and not having to rush like crazy in order to cram in more.

Fingers crossed.

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The bikes are here!

When my friend J told me over coffee one day, a gazillion years ago (well it feels like it), that JCDecaux was in talks with the Dublin City Council to bring the free bike system similar to that of Vélib’ in Paris, I was quite excited with at the prospect of this initiative. Little did I know that it would take a good couple of years before we even start seeing the installation of the bike stations all over the city.

Now, after months of looking at empty bike stations, the bikes are finally in place!

The Dublin Bikes was launched earlier today, signalling the start of availability of some 450 blue and grey bikes at 40 stations all over the city centre area.


Today couldn’t have been more perfect to inaugurate this scheme, given we’re getting a lovely Indian summer which looks set to continue well into later this week. Woohoo!

Darragh over at has written a detailed blog post over the usage of this scheme, so head over and have a read on what are fitted on the bikes, how to use it, and what the charges are like for the subscription fees (available as either annual long term or 3-days short term subscriptions). A €150 guarantee/deposit is required, in event of non-returning of the bikes.

Do note, particularly if you’re planning to take up a 3-days short term subscriptions, that NOT all bike stations are equipped with credit card terminals to take payment. For now, only 14 stations are good for taking out a 3-days hiring card. (Consult the station list)

For long term subscription, please apply online using this form and it will take about 2 weeks for your application to be processed and the card sent to you by post.

Fingers crossed that the bikes will be well used by the locals and the tourists alike, with minimal incidents of theft/vandalism (which unfortunately is inevitable). It is a brilliant scheme to improve mobility in the city, while staying green in the process of it. Happy biking!

Never Mind the Questions

Do you want to be part of Dublin’s biggest pub quiz, here is your chance. Concern Worldwide is organizing a series of pub quizzes around the city in the month of September and October. All proceeds go to support their work overseas (aid agencies around the world are struggling to keep their projects going in current recession). And their is also a grand prize – trip to Vegas to be won. Good Luck. Find your local pub in the map below.

Find your local pub

Find your local pub

You can find the full details and how does it work? HERE.

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Absolut Art

The Absolut Fringe Festival has just kicked off yesterday and there’s a schedule that’s jam-packed with events, workshops and shows – with something for everybody.

One of the central hang-out locations that the festival goers shouldn’t miss is the Absolut Fringe Factory @ Smock Alley Theatre on Lower Exchange St (off Essex Quay). An unique venue, for the duration of the festival, it plays host to 16 original contemporary Irish artworks.

Absolut Art @ Fringe Festival

Absolut Art @ Fringe Festival

Absolut Art pieces were created with this sole decree – “Be inspired by the Absolut bottle”. Within a short period of time, The Small Print curated the fabulous collection by Irish artists, from illustrators to graffiti artists to photographers. Among them are Maser, Asbestos, Chris Judge, Steve Simpson, Cliona O’Flaherty, Aisling Farinella and BrenB.

Richard Brickley, Absolut Marketing Manager, was very pleased with these highly creative works created from the very same brief that was given to Andy Warhol back in 1985, resulting in Absolut Warhol. Emma Donnellan, Brands Director for Irish Distiller Pernod Ricard, was in complete agreement and was excited that these pieces will be added to the international Absolut Art collection in Stockholm, Sweden.

The pieces currently on exhibit should be admired in person.

Absolut BrenB is vibrant and colourful, inspired by the text from the bottle label. Absolut Farinella is deceptively simple with the model styled in an iconic Absolut logo printed t-shirt, but referencing works of Karlheinz Weinberger. Absolut Asbestos retains graffiti quality within abstract space. Absolut Simpson has a retro feel with its colour scheme of blue, beige and red, and is a marvelous (somewhat) 3D piece. Absolut Judge features a robot (rather like Bender from Futuram) walking through a tunnel of electrifying light – if only the piece has been shown with UV light, you’d see glowing colours from the special colour markers that he had used in this creation. Absolut O’Flaherty is vintage candy at its most elegant, celebrating the occasion with a ginormous cake.

Don’t just take my words for it. Go and see them for yourself. All 16 pieces. The Absolut Fringe Factory opens 5pm-10pm daily, from 5 September to 20 September. If you’re catching any of the fringe events, why not take a small detour to visit this exhibit and enjoy a drink at the bar of this one of a kind venue before your show? The admission is free.

Tickets Giveaway : The Late Late Troll Show

The Bulmer’s Comedy Festival is starting in 2 days, and we have a pair of tickets to The Late Late Troll Show to giveaway.

The Toll Trolls, M and 50, are based, well, underneath the M50 toll bridge but for a change, they’re going to entertain the crowd at the Olympia. It’s going to be madness and off-the-wall comedy, with special appearances by the 98 Morning Crew, including Dermot Whelan from RTE’s “The Panel”!

Here’s a clip of the Toll Trolls, having a chat with the former Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern.


And another, talking about the movie “I Love You, Man”.


The Late Late Troll Show will take place on Friday 11 September 2009, at the Olympia Theatre. Show starts at 8pm, and the doors open at 7.30pm.

To win the pair of tickets, leave a comment below before/by 5pm, Tuesday 8th September 2009. One lucky winner will be drawn randomly and contacted by email. Good luck folks!

Brief Updates from MBHQ

You’ve no doubt by now noticed that the sites got a bit of a re-design and some things got changed around last week. We wanted to highlight two changes to make sure everyone knows what changed.

The first and biggest is COMMENTS! Registration is no longer required to post a comment on any post. Of course if you already have an account you can still login to ensure your comments are attributed to you, but those who don’t can now post a comment without any long term commitment. Also, on the right you can see some of the recent comments so you’ll always know what the active discussions are. This was the most requested thing we’ve heard from people since our last redesign and we’re excited to see where it leads.

The next change is also something that was heavily requested, and that is a change to the ADS on the sites. You’ll immediately notice fewer of them, but what might not be as obvious is those smaller square ones to the right are specific to this city only and are being sold for a flat rate for a period of time rather than a confusing CPM/traffic/network model. Depending on the city, these range from $7-$175 for a full week. If you purchase one, during that time your ad will be the only one in that spot and will show on every page. We set these up both to make it easier for smaller local businesses to get their ads on our site, and also to help us bring in ads that relate better to our local audiences. Also, keeping these sites online is expensive and every little bit helps.

There are a bunch of other things we changed but we’ll leave those to you to investigate and take advantage of. Hope you like it, and we look forward to seeing you in the comments!!

The folks at MBHQ

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Phishing for wealth

Yours, to be precise.

Every couple of months, there’s a new article in the newspapers of the latest phishing scam involving your bank contacting you by email, and requiring you to click on some link in order to update your details, or to help recover your data, or to reactivate your expiring personal access code card etc.

Anyone who’s sensible would know there’s a scam behind it. Just like anyone who’s sensible would know there is no rich Nigerian that’s dying to give you their money if you help him/her smuggle the wealth out from wherever they are. Right? Right?

Sensibility apart, knowing how scams and spams work – one should never click on any link and should delete those emails – eventually, hopefully, they will go away. But how long will it take for them to stop pestering you?

I personally have received 6 such phishing email in the last week alone. 6! That’s pretty much once a day. It all started a few weeks ago, with about an email per week, which I duly forwarded a copy to my bank and then deleted. Suddenly I’m seeing more and more of them, and it’s getting annoying. Very annoying.

Seriously, how did the scammers get my email in the first place? Just randomly? But if so, how did they match that to the right bank that I’m banking with? I have no received any email purporting to have came from other banks that I am not customer of.

Does this mean I can assume someone in my bank has sold email database of some sort to unscrupulous muppets? Or does this mean the security system in place for data management of my bank is fundamentally flawed and if so, why are they not doing something to improve it? Then again, I guess once the emails are at the hands of the scammers, they’re going to try to spam it over and over until, well, whenever.

I certainly hope not many people have been conned over such phishing expeditions. In fact, nobody should! When in doubt, contact your bank by phone or in person. The sooner the scammers are unable to make any stealth getaway with your cash, the sooner all this will die off. (And/or they’ll go away and try to figure a new way to do away with your money.)

Until then, remember, (1) don’t click any link in the email, (2) forward a copy to your bank, (3) delete the email, and (4) when in doubt, check with your bank personally.

Phishers – Go. Away.

Say what you want…

Illustration by Jessica Hagy @ Indexed

Illustration by Jessica Hagy @ Indexed (

Open comment (registration system has been scrapped) is back on Metblogs! Along with Twitter widget, sidebar of blogrolls and categories, less ads, better loading time etc, as reported.

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