Reflections on TBEX 2014: Dublin, Ireland

 

Last year, TBEX came to Dublin.

It came, it saw, and it most definitely conquered. Hundreds of the world’s most influential travel bloggers brought their unique vision and vibe to Dublin in 2013, shared their love with every connected corner of the world, and left behind an amazing sense of possibility.

For one wonderful week, it seemed like anything could happen.

This year, we want you back. Before or after TBEX Europe in Athens, we want you to pick up where you left off, to sample the startling energy of this island of Ireland, to sense the craic and creativity in the air.

In short, we want you to come home.

Wild Atlanitc Way 2

Last year, Ireland was gearing up to launch a ground-breaking tourism proposition. Many of you experienced taster trips along the Wild Atlantic Way during your visit, but you’ll be blown away at the fully formed route.

This Wild Atlantic Way is now up and running as the longest defined coastal touring route on the planet. It’s a salt-in-your-face, spray-on-your-windscreen immersion tracing every nook and cranny of the coastline from Donegal’s Inishowen Peninsula to the sizzling kitchens of Kinsale in Cork.

The Wild Atlantic Way isn’t just about the great outdoors, of course. It’s about the lifelong memories you’ll pick up along the way – in the midst of traditional music sessions, exploring coastal towns, or living it up during shindigs like the Fleadh Cheoil or Galway’s Arts and Oyster festivals.

Dublin is changing, too. The buzzing cafés, pubs and clubs you loved last year are blossoming into fully-fledged scenes. The food scene is going from strength to strength. You’ll not only find the best pint of Guinness here. You’ll find killer coffees and tunes, too.

Wanna party?

Time your Dublin visit to coincide with Dublin’s New Year’s Festival – a three-day party that’s going city-wide – or the mother of all get-togethers… the St Patrick’s Festival. It’s the perfect time to go green. Bloom in the Park, Ireland’s largest Gardening show is the social occasion of the year, with food also featuring prominently or Bram Stoker Fest, in October, when the City takes a look at its darker side and celebrates the Dublin-born horror novelist and his creation – Count Dracula.

Another city enjoying a new lease of life is Belfast. The Northern Ireland capital is the birthplace of Titanic, and the interactive Titanic Belfast is rapidly becoming one of Europe’s must-see attractions.

Belfast’s music and food scenes are making waves, too. The home of Van Morrison and Snow Patrol is crammed with cracking bands, venues and a new generation of restaurants is taking the hottest of local produce –and turning them into a very appetising prospect.

City doorsteps

When you’re done touring the city, head north to the Causeway Coast. Sights like the Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, The Dark Hedges and Ballintoy Harbour may look familiar… they’ve all served as locations in HBO’s fantastical Game of Thrones, much of which is filmed in Northern Ireland.

giants_causeway

Meanwhile, history is hooking up with the here-and-now in Kilkenny, Waterford and Wexford. Ireland’s ‘Sunny Southeast’ has long been known for its beaches (Steven Spielberg shot the opening scenes for Saving Private Ryan at Ballinesker), but more and more visitors are dipping into what’s emerging as one of the hottest heritage destinations around.

Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile is a magical strip running from Kilkenny Castle through the ancient city centre to St. Canice’s Cathedral. Waterford, the oldest city in Ireland, has been celebrating the 1,100th anniversary of its foundation by Vikings. The replica Dunbrody Famine Ship evokes journeys made by countless emigrants, including the ancestors of President John F Kennedy.

It’ll be a whirlwind visit – and an unforgettable one.

Enjoy TBEX Athens, and remember your motto for 2015:  Let’s make Ireland happen!

Author Bio:  Pól Ó Conghaile is a travel writer based in Ireland.

Video: Stephen Oddo Talks About TBEX Dublin

 

Stephen Oddo, Co-founder of Walks of Italy and longtime TBEX supporter, talks about TBEX, Dublin, and Italy.

Video courtesy of Michael Collins

 

Finding the Music in Ireland

 

Traditional music in an Irish pub. Creative commons photo by KHoffmanDC.

Traditional music in an Irish pub. Creative commons photo by KHoffmanDC.

It would be difficult, indeed, to travel through Ireland for any length of time without coming across some of its unique music. There are many places to find the music – just about any pub will, if they don’t have music themselves, know where the nearby sources are. My advice is to go off the beaten path. Ask your B&B hosts for the best local spot; go to a local pub which might have a traditional seisiún.

A seisiún (session) is a group of local musicians who have gotten together in a pub and just started playing some of the songs they all know. They may have never played together before, or may do so every night. They may not even know each other – but they all know the tunes. And they are playing for the joy of playing and entertaining. This won’t be a polished performance, like Riverdance or a concert, but it will be heartfelt and genuine, nonetheless.

If you are looking for a more polished show, there are several pubs that offer those as well. Some castles, such as Bunratty, offer medieval banquets with performances, as well as their ‘Ceilidh in a Corn Barn.’ Kate Kearney’s Cottage in the Gap of Dunloe offers a nightly performance of song and dance for people to enjoy along with their pints. There are many places in Dublin’s Temple Bar area for such entertainment.

If you are in a city, like Dublin, where tourism is common, it may be more difficult to find the local traditional pub. Your host at the hotel or B&B may give you the standard tourist answer and direct you to a staged performance. If that is what you are looking for, that’s grand. However, if you tell them you really are interested in a traditional session, they will likely give you a recommendation to find something appropriate.

In some places, you can just walk down the street and follow your ears. Dingle, Doolin, Ardara, Donegal, Kilkenny – I’ve done this in all these places. There is a decent resource at Irish Abroad online for those who wish see an online pub directory.

Some of the instruments you are likely to find, both in the informal sessions and the professional performances, are fiddle, harp, bodhran (hand drum), guitar, flute, and perhaps even banjo and accordion. While the later don’t sound like traditional Irish instruments to American ears, they have become an integral part of Irish traditional music, and do add to the sound nicely.

There is a joke that asks, ‘How do you walk through Dublin without passing a pub?’ The answer is to go into each pub, and therefore you are not passing any of them. This would be a great way to find all the music on offer in any given place!

Author Bio: Christy Jackson Nicholas works as an accountant in West Virginia with her husband, Jason, dog, Dax, and cat Zathrus. She is an artist as well as a writer, and an avid traveler. You can read more in her new e-book, Ireland: Mythical, Magical, Mystical; A Guide to Hidden Ireland and find out more about Christy on her site, GreenDragonArtist.com.

TBEX Dublin: 5 Sites to Visit After You’ve Seen the Relics in the National Museum

 

Ireland’s National Museum of Archaeology is fabulous – and free. You’ll be amazed at the treasures kept safe in Irish bogs for thousands of years. Bronze jewelry, entire suits of clothing and even delicate parchments have been unearthed across Ireland.

While an afternoon at the National Museum of Archeology is a wonderful gateway to Ireland’s vast history, visiting where some of the most incredible relics came from gives you an even deeper understanding of the unique country that is Ireland.

Spectacular Irish Relics and their Associated Sites

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The Tara Brooch
Quite possibly the most well known relic at the museum, the Tara Brooch was actually found 29k east of the Hill of Tara, the seat of the High Kings of Ireland. As such a fine brooch could only have belonged to a person of great importance, this 8th century brooch was believed to have belonged to one of the Kings of Ireland.

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Creative commons photo by Holly Hayes
Visiting the Hill of Tara: Overlooking the Boyne Valley in County Meath, the Hill of Tara is not one site, but many, scattered over a large area. Standing atop the hill, the Stone of Destiny is filled with myth and magic, said to scream when the rightful King of Ireland touches it. You’ll also see a stone age passage tomb and great burial site, Mound of the Hostages. While tours are available at the site, I recommend purchasing the Hill of Tara smartphone app by Ingenious Ireland.

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The Sun Shield of Lough Gur
Found in 1872 after Lough Gur had been partially drained, the 7th century bronze shield was beaten from a flat sheet of bronze. It is believed to have been a purely ceremonial shield as leather shields of the period would have offered more protection against a sword.

Lough Gur 2012 (1)
Visiting Lough Gur: A new Visitors Centre near Bruff, County Limerick, details over 8000 years of Lough Gur history with audio guides, listening points and AV presentations. Wear sturdy hiking shoes as the Lough Gur area includes many outdoor sites including Ireland’s largest stone circle, Neolithic houses atop Knockadoon and a Megalithic tomb. The Lough Gur area is quite large, so be sure to download the free i-Trails guide before you visit (or you can pick up a paper copy at the visitors centre).

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The Clonmacnoise Crozier
Thought to be associated with the shrine of the St. Ciarán, the founder of the monastery at Clonmacnoise, this crozier heavily features Viking styling, which dates it to the 11th century. The hollow, curved crook is inlaid with intricate designs in silver and niello while the bronze below is fashioned with Celtic knotwork and animals.

High Cross Clonmacnoise
Visiting Clonmacnoise: at the furthest edge of County Offaly, Clonmacnoise lies at a major historic crossroads where the north/south River Shannon crossed the east/west route through Ireland’s bogs. Once a major center of learning and commerce, today you’ll find three High Crosses, two round towers, extensive remains of churches and temples and a very informative visitors centre. The grounds are extensive, so wear good walking shoes.

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Creative commons photo by Mark Healey
The Armlet of Old-Croghan Man
Found in 2003, Old-Croghan Man appears to have been a healthy, young male before the ritual killing that ended his life over 2000 years ago. Bound, stabbed, struck, mutilated and cut in half, researchers believe this may have been a failed king as his nipples had also been cut off as sucking a king’s nipples was a sign of submission in Ancient Ireland; cutting them off would have made the man incapable of kingship. The leather and tinted bronze armlet with stamped metal clips representing the sun further indicate that this was a man of aristocratic status.

croghanhill
photo courtesy of MountainViews.ie
Visiting Croghan Hill: An extinct volcano, Croghan Hill rises from the midlands of County Offaly, offering sweeping views of the midland counties. A mound at the summit is thought to be an ancient burial place, and Saint Bridget is said to have been born near here. Before Christianity Brigid was associated with the hill and inside was said to house an magical underworld known as Bre Eli. The O’Connors of Offaly had one of their main residences here and a Holy Well dedicated to St. Patrick is just north of the hill.

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Flint Macehead
Such a small piece at under 8cm, this stunning, carved macehead was found deep in the great passage tomb at Knowth. Dating between 3300-2800 BC, the carvings are so precise as to have only been created with a rotary drill – predating the technology found in the classical world by 2000 years.

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Creative commons photo by Przsak
Visiting Knowth: Located in the Boyne Valley of County Meath, the Knowth passage tomb is near the better known passage tomb of Newgrange and the famed Hill of Tara. The site at Knowth is open to the public, via the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre. Though you cannot enter interior passages and chambers, the site is worth visiting for the carved kerb stones, satellite mounds and reconstructed wooden henge.

While Dublin may be where the action is, getting ‘outside the Pale’ is where you’ll find Ireland’s magic and mystery. Using the National Museum as your guide, you’ll discover an Ireland you never imagined.

Author Bio: When she first visited Ireland more than a decade ago, Jody Halsted immediately felt at home. Passing her love of Ireland and all things Irish on to her family, Jody set out to prove that Ireland isn’t just a vacation for young pub-hoppers on gap year and seasoned travelers on a tour bus, but a perfect destination for family vacations. You can follow Jody’s Ireland travels at Ireland Family Travel, as well as the Ireland Family Vacations Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest sites.

photos by Jody Halsted unless otherwise noted

TBEX Speaker Post: Dublin, City of Storytellers

 

Old Library at Trinity College, Dublin (photo by Aaron Parecki)

Old Library at Trinity College, Dublin (photo by Aaron Parecki)

It’s so fitting that TBEX is coming to Dublin, a UNESCO City of Literature. Has there ever been a city more influenced by its writers and shaped by the arts? The renowned Irish literary tradition, boasting four Nobel Prize winners, is constantly looking forward, embracing new styles and forms of writing. And now a new generation of storytellers are descending on the city, inviting the deep-rooted legacy of Joyce, Wilde, and Yeats to shape their budding manuscripts.

While in Dublin, take the time to acquaint yourself with the founding fathers and mothers of Irish literature – and reap the benefits of their inspiration!

The Book of Kells

The written word has dominated Ireland for over a thousand years. Take a step back to 800AD and revel in one of the most beautiful books ever created. The Book of Kells is four volumes of lovingly illustrated vellum pages containing the Latin texts of the Four Gospels. You will find it on display in the Old Library at Trinity College Dublin.

Bonus! The Book of Kells is only one of the highlights at Trinity College Dublin. Marvel at the many exhibits in the Old Library and wander the cobblestone paths of the campus to find other treasures.

Dublin Writer’s Museum

Swift or Sheridan? Shaw or Wilde? Yeats, Joyce or Beckett? If your time is limited, the Dublin Writer’s Museum will help condense centuries of history into one magnificent collection of books, letters, art work, personal artifacts, and more (see if you can find Mary Lavin’s teddy bear!) The stunning museum architecture will encourage you to linger, as will the Chapterhouse Café, whose scones I can heartily vouch for!

Bonus! If you plan on also visiting the James Joyce Center, you can take advantage of a special combined rate to enter the two facilities.

The Abbey Theatre

As the first state-subsidized English theatre in the world, the Abbey has always stood out as a unique institution. Founded by Lady Augusta Gregory and WB Yeats, the Abbey courted controversy at a very early age. One of its first productions was John Millington Synge’s Playboy of the Western World, whose unprecedented portrayal of scandalous events in rural County Mayo caused riots in Dublin in 1907. Never one to shy from a little drama, the Abbey has been a steadfast supporter of Irish playwrights ever since.

Bonus! William Butler isn’t the only Yeats in Abbey history. His brother, Jack, illustrated Synge’s books, designed sets for the Abbey, and had three of his own plays produced there – yet he is most distinguished as an outstanding painter. You can see his work at the National Gallery of Ireland, including The Liffey Swim, for which Yeats earned Ireland’s first Olympic Medal for painting – an exhibition event at the 1924 Paris Games.

Famous Footsteps

While writers may spend endless hours at their desks, in Dublin you can pound the pavement instead! Take to the pretty cobblestone streets on a literary walking tour (or pub crawl, as it may be). The James Joyce Center offers Dubliners guided audio tours, ranging from 2 hour mini-excursions to 10 hour epic adventures. For those looking for a little lager with their literature, The Duke Pub is the launch point for the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl. I join this tour every time I’m in Dublin – it’s always fresh, entertaining, and even a wee bit educational.

Bonus! Irish literature is celebrated throughout the city through public art. The statues of Joyce and Wilde are the most famous, but dedicated fans can find even more.

Irish Writer’s Center

Wrestling with Writer’s Block? Looking to do some writing of your own? The Irish Writer’s Center welcomes visitors, who will surely appreciate a reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the city to concentrate on their own work. A 50 Euro membership (25 Euro for students) comes with perks such as free wi-fi, coffee & tea, private writing rooms, computer use, archive access, and special events.

Bonus! Feeling inspired with the gift of gab? The Storytellers of Ireland and Milk and Cookies Stories offer artistic events celebrating Irish storytelling in Dublin and across Ireland.

No matter where you go, there’s always a pocket of Dublin steeped in literary history, awaiting your discovery. Dublin is the perfect city to reflect on what it means to be a writer and a storyteller, and I’m hoping that you will draw on the city’s rich cultural legacy to create some new masterpieces of your own!

vanessachiassonAuthor Bio: TBEX Dublin speaker Vanessa Chiasson is the founder of TurnipseedTravel.com. She is passionate about getting great value – the best possible travel experience for your limited time and money. Speaking at TBEX Dublin marks Vanessa’s third visit to Ireland. In previous visits, her graduate studies in the Irish political economy were oft disrupted by a passion for art, culture, history – and bakery visits!

TBEX Sponsor Post: 3 Dublin Visitor Tips from Real ‘Dubliners’

 

Viking Splash Tour in Dublin. Creative commons photo by Andrew Parnell.

Viking Splash Tour in Dublin. Creative commons photo by Andrew Parnell.

How are you going to make the most of your time and experience the real Dublin when you visit for TBEX?

Here at Homestay.com our motto is ‘Don’t just visit, live it’, which is why we asked some of our Homestay.com hosts in Dublin to tell us how they would advise people to spend their free time during the TBEX conference.

Our host families are the people with local knowledge which means that guests who book on Homestay.com get the chance to see beyond the usual tourist trail and quickly find their feet in a new place, whether it’s help with local orientation or places to eat.

Here we list some tips and advice given to us by real ‘Dubliners’ featuring everything that a good blogger needs to enjoy their visit.

Visit an Authentic Historic Dublin Pub

This one always makes the list – visiting a Dublin pub is a must. However, they are not all found in Temple Bar! Try ‘Grogans Castle Lounge’ on Castle Street for a pint of Guinness and one of their famous toasted ham and cheese sandwiches. Established in 1972, Grogans became a favoured meeting place for cutting-edge Irish writers of the time. An establishment full of history and character.

Chester Beatty Library

Think communicating with hashtags is cool? Visit the historic ‘Chester Beatty Library’ in Dublin Castle and view the precursors to hashtags – cairographics and sand scripts – which date from about 2700 BC to the present century. Enjoy a free guided tour and then relax in the Silk Road Café, one of Dublin’s best kept secrets, which overlooks the grounds of the castle.

Tour Like a Viking

A tourist activity that Dubliners also love to do! Hop aboard the ‘Viking Splash Tour’ and experience Dublin by land and water. Roar like a Viking at passers-by (yes really) and hold onto your Viking helmet for this fun way to see Dublin city. Ending in Grand Canal Dock – this tour will allow you to see where the Google and Facebook offices are based – you might even catch the employees having a party on their roof garden!

Author Bio: Alan Clarke is CEO of Homestay.com, an Irish company that are building a cultural experience into the travel experience by having established a trusted global network and community of homestay hosts, each of whom welcome visitors to stay in their home. This offering is an affordable alternative to ordinary tourist accommodation and allows visitors to share a meal, learn customs, hear stories and enjoy traditions with the people that really make the place what it is. Homestay.com can also match visitor’s interests with their hosts to ensure that they have the best trip possible. Visit Homestay.com for more information.

TBEX Sponsor Post: The Secret is Out – Dublin Has a Great Outdoors

 

Close your eyes and picture Dublin in your mind.  What do you see?

What if we told you that right on Dublin’s doorstep, only a short drive or bus trip away from the city centre, you could find yourself bouldering over large outcrops slap bang in the middle of the fantastic Dublin Mountains  or out  discovering Dublin’s coastal beauty on a 54-foot ocean-going yacht?

Dublin Bay and the Wicklow Mountains shot from Dalkey

Often a surprise for visitors, the diversity of Dublin’s landscape caters to an equally diverse range of outdoor activities for young and old. If you are a thrill seeker looking for an adrenaline-fueled escapade, or if you are looking for a more leisurely paced activity, Dublin’s great outdoors has something for you.

The beautiful Dublin Mountains provide an incredible recreational facility. If you are looking for a leisurely family walk on an easy looped trail, a guided cross county hike along rocky forest paths, a spin on a mountain bike along a mountain bike trail, zorbing, paragliding, rock-climbing, zip lining, abseiling, horse riding, a mountain run, a bit of bouldering over the tors of Three Rock, or orienteering on one of Dublin’s five permanents orienteering courses, the trails and forests of the Dublin Mountains has something for you.  Visitors can enjoy spectacular views of Dublin city and join in the many regular events that are run in the recreation sites such as Ticknock, Pine Forest and the infamous Hell Fire Club! You can even try your hand at skiing and snowboarding on an artificial ski slope in the Dublin hills at Kilternan.

Nearer at hand, the numerous parks and gardens of Dublin, many of which are built and managed by Dublin City Council and the other local authorities covering Dublin County,  offer opportunities for rest, relaxation and recreation. Phoenix Park is Europe’s largest urban park with a staggering  707 hectares offering Dublin Zoo, Farmleigh House, a visit to Aras an Uachtarain (the official residence of the Irish President), bike hire, walks, runs, markets, concerts and assorted events. You can play a number of different sports in Dublin’s parks in the playing fields, boules fields, tennis courts, athletic tracks, golf and pitch-and-putt courses, basketball courts, all-weather training areas, skateparks and an increasing number of cycleways, fitness trails and walks along tree trails.  Fantastic playgrounds await the younger visitors.  Rock-climbing and skateboarding await the more daring.  People watching and picnics await those who want a slower paced activity.

For water babies, the rivers, canals and coast Dublin offer a staggering array of outdoor adventures promising thrills and spills aplenty.  Fishing, rowing, swimming, sea and river kayaking, sailing, waterskiing, running on water on aqua spheres, scuba diving, windsurfing, canoeing, kite surfing, snorkelling, paddle boarding, power boating and rafting all await you. Little ones will love rockpooling, collecting sea shells and stones and may even spot some seals and dolphins.  Dublin has many beaches dotted along the coastline. Not many capitals can boast the sandy stretches Dublin enjoys and there’s a beach to suit everyone’s taste – even if you are just looking for some ice-cream!!

Some of the best links courses in Europe are located along the Dublin coastline.  So if you fancy a tough course, or just bringing your family along for a go at a 7 hole golf course for a few hours, then trying out one of more than 40 golf courses in Dublin might be the activity for you.

So what are you waiting for, stop reading this, get your boots on and get out and enjoy Dublin’s great outdoors!

 

TBEX Sponsor Post: Calling All Culture Vultures

 

Dublin is a city that is famous the world over for its distinct history, literature, heritage, tradition and vibrant contemporary cultural life.  It is a culture vulture’s paradise, bursting with a cool café culture, inspiring libraries, fascinating museums, beautiful galleries, historic buildings, thriving theatres and cultural centres.

Dublin city from Grattan Bridge

If you are a history buff, a visit to the City Hall to learn about the history of Dublin may be your cup of tea.  If you like museums, there are plenty to visit such as An Post (the Irish Postal System) Museum, Tara’s Palace Museum of Childhood, the Leprechaun Museum, the Dublin Writers Museum, the GAA Museum, the Glasnevin Cemetery Museum, the National Children’s’ Museum (Imaginosity), the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the Irish Jewish Museum, the National Maritime Museum, the James Joyce Museum, the National Print Museum, the National Transport Museum, the National Museums of Ireland and the Georgian House Museum, to name but a few.

If you like castles, then Dublin has plenty for you.  Dublin Castle, Rathfarnham Castle, Ardgillan Castle, Malahide Castle, and Dalkey Castle all have fascinating stories to tell and are fantastic places to visit.

Dublin has an amazing variety of public and private galleries ranging from the iconic National Gallery of Ireland to the fascinating Dublin City Gallery, from The Hugh Lane to the inspiring LAB, as well as many fine smaller private collections. The range of art and artifacts is enormous and will keep visitors enthralled for hours.

Dublin is renowned for its literary tradition, dating back over a thousand years to when monks would transcribe the bible into beautiful manuscripts. The best surviving example of which is the Book of Kells, dating from 800 AD and it is on display at Trinity College.  Dublin was also the birthplace of James Joyce and Nobel Prize for Literature winners William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw and Samuel Beckett.  In 2010, it was named a UNESCO City of Literature – one of only three in the world, joining the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. Literary initiatives such as the Bloomsday Festival, storytelling groups, the Mountain to Sea Book Festival, the Dalkey Book Festival, the Irish Literary Festival, Dublin Book Festival, the Dublin Writers Museum, the Irish Writers Centre, the James Joyce Centre, Dublin: One City, One Book and the Dublin Writers Festival encourage everyone to get interested in literature and books. Book worms can also enjoy the National Library, which is based in the city centre and the numerous public libraries around Dublin, which host a huge variety of cool and mainly free public events all throughout the year, including talks, art workshops, language conversation classes, readings, training, kids’ workshops and festivals.  The oldest public library in Ireland is in Dublin – Marsh’s Library.

If you are visiting Dublin with kids, there is so much to keep your little ones culturally amused from the cultural oasis that is the Ark to learning about Vikings in Dublinia, from designing robots at the Science Gallery’s Makeshop to making origami in the National Print Museum.

For some festival fever, Dublin has a festival for everything – St Patrick, literature, Shakespeare, theatre, history, fashion, horticulture, cinema, flamenco, film, literature, chocolate, Bram Stoker, Vikings, Chinese New Year, music (including jazz, trad, soul, Americana roots), multicultural and ethnic festivals such as the Russian Festival of Culture, the Cuban Festival, the Chinese New Year, and festivals aimed at kids such as the Children’s Book Festival and Samhain (Halloween Festival).

If music is your thing, then the National Concert Hall has an all-inclusive and diverse programme that caters to children as well as the classically informed. Free lunchtime concerts are a wonderful way to pass some time.  On the traditional front several pubs hold free sessions where you’ll be treated to the fiddle, bodhrán and tin whistle acoustic sessions.

Theatre buffs will enjoy the array of theatres in Dublin from the Abbey Theatre, which was set up in 1904 and has fostered talents such as William Butler Yeats and Sean O’Casey, to the Gate Theatre, set up in 1928, where Orson Welles and Michael Gambon began their acting careers. The Peacock, neighbouring The Abbey Theatre, is its contemporary sidekick. The recently restored Smock Alley Theatre, which first opened it in 1662, recently re-launched with Oliver Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer. It was first performed there 239 years before. If a soup, sandwich and performance deal tickles your palate, Bewleys Café Theatre serves up a unique theatrical experience over lunch.  At Christmas time, there is always a great choice of pantomimes and Christmas events.

So culture vultures, go see, visit, laugh, participate, spread the word and enjoy!

 

TBEX Speaker Guest Post: Creative Email Marketing for Travel Bloggers

 

Travel bloggers are a funny group. Dangle a new social media outlet in front of them and they’ve got a username and password faster than they can upload a snapshot of tonight’s dinner. Ask them how they use their email list, and they usually answer, “Ummmm, I’ve been meaning to work on that.”

coreyorangeEmail isn’t dressed in a cute logo or backed by a cast of too-cool-for-school entrepreneurs. It’s functional, not flashy. It’s proven more than a trend, and for some reason ends up on the to-do list rather than the must-do list.

Yet when Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest want to send YOU a message, they use email. When YouTube, StumbleUpon, and LinkedIn want you to click on content, how do they reach you? They send an email… an email YOU ASKED THEM TO SEND.

So why aren’t you following their example?

You send important emails every day, so you’ve already been honing the skills required to become a successful email campaign creator. Yet, you’re reluctant to put your list to work.

Most bloggers plead lack of knowledge, lack of a list, or lack of time when dishing out their excuses. The truth is, you’re email list is an extension of everything you do online. It’s your way of treating your most dedicated fans as VIPs. By inviting you into their inbox, they’re practically counting you as part of the family. As family, they trust your recommendations (sometimes more than their blood relatives), they click your links, and they prove to be your most loyal, vocal fans.

They say the “money is in your list.”

The wealth I’ve accumulated from simple, sincere emails have ranged from increased page views; bumps in sales; and the growth of my online community.

I thought I’d share a few memorable moments courtesy of my email subscribers.

Perfect Timing: Most people check email and Facebook more often than they scan their RSS reader or browse the web. Last St Patrick’s Day Facebook’s algorithm didn’t seem to favor my post about Lonely Planet’s free digital download of their Dublin guide. I countered with an email to my list, and within an hour my inbox was flooded with thank you messages.

Meaningful Engagement: For my latest podcast episode, I asked my audience for alternative destinations to Ireland’s most popular tourist spots. A Twitter mention and post on Facebook came back with a few replies. A day later, an email to a segment of my list returned four times as many suggestions. Best of all, they were written in paragraph form instead of Facebook and Twitter fragments.

  • The End of the World (Almost): During a 48-hour nightmare last year when an un-updated WordPress plugin wreaked havoc on my website, a simple alert to my email subscribers let them know the problem was being addressed, and two IT professionals stepped forward and helped fix the problem fast.
  • Connection and Interaction: For the last five years, a handful of my e-newsletter subscribers participated in a Secret Santa Gift Exchange. The entire activity was organized in the virtual world through an email list, but it resulted in real gifts with handwritten notes being sent via snail mail to people around the globe. The good will and online conversations that resulted were probably the best gift I could have received at that time of year.
  • Audience Development: One of my favorite projects came from a museum that was undergoing a 3-month renovation. Without people walking in the front door, I worked with them to develop new email membership. Within two weeks we were seeing almost 100 new sign ups a day. For 180 days, these e-members were given a weekly stream of useful, interesting information. When the museum opened again, over half the email subscribers downloaded tickets to previews, and it’s estimated that at least 17% bought a paid membership.
  • Sales: I don’t hard-sell anything to my email list, but I do let subscribers know about my projects and products. By December last year, I sold an extra $15,000 worth of my own products thanks to my lists in 2012.

Activating Your Email Marketing

At TBEX Dublin, I’m teaming up Kerwin McKenzie for a session covering the how-tos and what-to-dos of email marketing. We’ll be loading attendees up with achievable action steps to get them building and sending their lists… and, of course we’ll be using e-mail to check up on their progress afterwards.

Author Bio:  Corey Taratuta is best known as the host of the Irish Fireside Podcast, Corey’s “previous life” included days (and nights) as the senior member of a museum creative team, a newspaper features editor, and an unenthusiastic cowhand on his family’s dairy farm. After launching the podcast in 2006, he set out on a 40-day, cross-country trek meeting fans and telling the story through video and words. He now works as a freelance writer and designer specializing in e-mail marketing and online content. He unveiled the Ireland Travel Kit app in 2013, and his first book on Irish travel goes to press next year.

TBEX Sponsor Post: Bridging the Differences of Travel Bloggers in Europe & the USA

Almost 240 years ago a group of upstarts in a backwater colony decided to declare independence from the United Kingdom – then the most powerful Empire on the planet. But it wasn’t just political freedom that emerged from this act of revolution. The emergence of new personalities, characteristics, and even language evolved as a result of this rebellion.

ryan levittFast forward to 2013 and the results of that little tiff can be felt in the blogger world – and in social media in general. It might not be the most important difference that evolved, but this is a blog for a blog conference so give me a little leeway for a bit here.

People act differently on each side of the Atlantic. I know, because I have lived in Canada, the US, France and the UK. Every country has its quirks. In New York it might be fine to tell anyone and everyone about your lithium prescription. In London? Not so much.

Every day in my position as Head of Communication at HouseTrip.com, I get approached by bloggers from around the world pitching me for partnerships, free accommodation and more. Before I even look at the blog, I can usually tell you where the blogger comes from just by the way the pitch is written.

American bloggers always focus on the numbers. If the pitch is littered with Klout scores, traffic numbers and any other random bit of tracking data you can think of, then the pitcher is from the U.S. of A. Brits are much more apologetic. Common phrases include: “I hope I’m not asking too much, but” or “It would be really helpful if.” Not for them the jugular vein.

But social media use goes beyond the way bloggers pitch. It’s also reflected in how the locals of each country decide to interact and engage with their friends and influencers.

Bloggers need to make choices in the way they choose to promote themselves, create, and amplify content in order to attract the natives of the countries they want core readership from. Content questions need to be asked:

  • Am I being too personal?
  • Am I using the right language and tone?
  • Am I blogging about the kinds of topics readers from (insert country here) want to read about?
  • Am I using the right platforms to publish and distribute my content?

Brands also want to know that you are aware of your market and readership. I work for a European brand so I am always going to be more interested in European readership or viewership when I am choosing bloggers to create partnerships with. The fact that you have big numbers is great. The fact that you have big number in the UK, France or Germany is even better.

Know where the brand wants to target and rule out the ones you know are looking to attract different visitors. There is no point in trying to go after the Bhutan Tourism Board to sponsor your trip if France represents just 200 inbound passengers a year and your blog is read by the French market.

Think smart and vive la difference. Make your content decisions work for you – and you might find that a new market opens up to you if you make simple changes to your site or URL.

Author Bio:  Ryan Levitt is PR Director of HouseTrip.com, one of the world’s largest holiday rental websites offering over 230,000 rentals in more than 19,000 destinations worldwide. Prior to this time, he spent almost a decade in travel PR representing NYC, Bermuda, Mauritius, Queensland, Malaysia and many other destinations, hotels and cruise lines in Europe. Also a former travel journalist, he has written over 20 travel guides and contributed to The Independent on Sunday (UK), Arena Magazine, Wallpaper, South China Morning Post, Toronto Star – and was a guide writer for VisitBritain and the German National Tourist Office.