Tag Archives: visiting ireland

Living in Ireland: Festival of Trees

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

Before we say goodbye to 2017, I thought I’d share one last holiday-themed post.

One of the things I’ve enjoyed or found the most interesting about living in Ireland is seeing how the locals celebrate the various holidays.

Ireland doesn’t have the Christmas markets that other European countries are famous for, but it does have plenty of other events for locals (and visitors!) to enjoy.

This year a friend invited us to see the Festival of Trees at Christ Church in Bray.

Bray is a cute seaside town south of Dublin. It’s one of the farthest points south that you can live from Dublin and still commute 45 minutes by train into the city center for work.

Christ Church is a protestant church dating back to 1863. The church spire (below) is 175-feet tall and was completed in 1870. Eight bells hang in the spire and are still rung at midnight every New Year’s Eve to welcome the New Year.

For this festival, Christ Church set up approximately 40 trees, each decorated by a community group, inside its sanctuary. A Bible verse or hymn corresponded with each tree.

This is what you saw from the back of the sanctuary. It’s a gorgeous building.

I took a few photos to give you an idea of what it was like to be there. I wish you could have smelled the glorious scent of all of those tree! Oh, and please excuse the dim lighting conditions.

Here’s a tree decorated with items pulled out of the recycling bin.

I believe this group was advocating for people do all they can to stop or reverse the effects of climate change.

Here’s a tree made of field hockey sticks, which I thought was clever.

My kids play field hockey on Mondays as part of their school day.

I believe this was a remembrance tree.

There are names of loved ones written on each dove.

This Donald Trump tree was one of the last trees on the tour. It’s labeled the “Golden Fleece Tree” and was decorated by a hair salon.

Donald Trump masks were sold as Halloween costumes at the euro store (like a dollar store) this year. Most people here are either appalled at his rhetoric and/or think he’s a joke.

It was my impression that the tree was not intended to be a compliment.

This is just another reminder to me that our world is much more connected than folks might realize.

The ballerina tree was very pretty.

It looks like Bible verses are written on the tree’s ornaments.

They also had a wishing tree where the kids could write down a wish. My son wished for snow and he did get to see about 5 minutes of snow this year!

There was also a wood cross where people could write prayer requests down on Post-It notes and add them to the “tree.” The notes were over-flowing onto the ground. It was touching to observe.

I’m in awe every time I step foot into a historic church.

Especially from an artistic and architectural standpoint, you can tell these are special places.

It was also neat to see a church opening their doors to the community in this way.

While we enjoy attending the big, spectacular holiday events in Ireland, it’s the smaller community events that have helped me appreciate and understand my neighbors a little better.

By far, the best part about living in Ireland are the Irish people. Their graciousness and ability to see me as an individual and not as a representative of the political or Hollywood version of U.S. values has been humbling and so appreciated.

Happy Travels!


If you are new to Dublin or visiting Dublin, here are some helpful websites to check to see what’s happening in and around the city.

Dublin.ie   |     Visit Dublin      |     Dublin Town

If you are in the South Dublin area, these websites are helpful.

Dun Laoghaire – Rathdown County Council     |     Bray, Ireland


If you liked this post, here are more posts about visiting Ireland.

The Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands with Kids

Galway with Kids

Our Favorite Irish Castle Tour with Kids

Belfast with Kids

Dublin: Talking Statues

Kissing the Blarney Stone and Blarney Castle

Here are some posts about our expat experience of living in Ireland.

Living in Ireland: Christmas in Retail 2017

Living in Ireland: Storm Ophelia

Living in Ireland: That Time a Tree Came Down

Living in Ireland: Pediatric Emergency Medicine

Living in Ireland: Back After A Month in the United States

Living in Ireland: As Seen On My Commute

Living in Ireland: A Trip to the Hardware Store

Living in Ireland: Spring Flowers In Our Yard

Living in Ireland: Grocery Shopping

Living in Ireland: What to See my Hot Press?

Living in Ireland: Merry Christmas 2016

Living in Ireland: Christmas in Retail

Living in Ireland: Groceries

Moving to Ireland: Grocery Item Look Alikes

Moving to Ireland: Primary School 101

Moving to Ireland: First Week of School

Moving to Ireland: The Great Purge

Moving to Ireland: Human Kindness is Overflowing 

Moving to Ireland: House Viewing #1

Moving to Ireland:  House Viewing #2

Moving to Ireland: House Viewing #3

Moving to Ireland: Temp House First Floor

Moving to Ireland: Temp House Second Floor

Moving Tips to Keep You Sane

My #1 Moving Tip

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Visiting Ireland: Talking Statues

If you’re visiting Ireland or the Dublin area anytime soon, there’s a cool new feature in town.

Statues that talk!

And I’m not talking about the ones that ‘talk’ after you’ve spent the night at the pub.

I’m talking about ones that can call your phone.

visiting ireland oscar wilde

With a lot of support, an initiative called ‘Talking Statues’ was commissioned by Sing London, whose projects “set out to connect people to each other and to the public spaces we share.”

The statues use humor and drama to tell a story and connect the listener with Dublin’s history. Plus, these stories are written and recorded by some pretty famous folks whose work you might have read, heard or seen.

10 statutes in Dublin now ‘talk’ including Oscar Wilde, James Joyce and George Bernard Shaw.

I’m excited for the next time I take my kids into the city because we have the opportunity to engage with history in a way that sounds different and fun.

visiting ireland - hear joyce here

If you have no plans to visit Ireland, why not never fear. There’s one city in the U.S. with 30 talking statues – Chicago.

How cool would it be to hear from The Tin Man, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Leif Erikson, Nicolaus Copernicus or Benito Juarez while walking around the city? Pretty cool!

Some of the people involved in Chicago’s Talking Statues are David Saltzman, Johnny Galecki, Steve Carell and David Schwimmer. Oh, you know it’s got to be good!

Sing London has also animated statues in London, Manchester, Leeds, Bedford and now Dublin.

visiting ireland - o'connell statue

Whether you are a tourist or a local, this is the type of engagement with history that I love. It’s free. It’s entertaining. It doesn’t take a lot of time. And you’ll probably learn something new.

Happy Travels!


Learn More: Talking Statues Dublin 

Learn More: Talking Statues


Here are more posts about visiting Ireland.

The Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands with Kids

Galway with Kids

Our Favorite Irish Castle Tour with Kids

Belfast with Kids

 

 

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Visiting Ireland: Our Favorite Castle Tour (with kids)

I grew up on the West Coast of the United States. The places and structures we consider old there aren’t old at all when compared to, well, basically everywhere else in the world.

That perspective, in part, is why I find castles so fascinating.

Ireland has a number of castles – some of which date back to the 12th century.

The thing you need to know about castles is they are not one size fits all. They range in size, in function, in grandeur. It’s interesting to visit castles of all shapes and sizes because they each have an interesting story to tell about their place and purpose in history.

When I’m visiting castles in Ireland, it’s never alone. That would make absorbing the interesting historical and cultural information way too easy. I need to challenge the few remaining brain cells that survived that never-ending My Little Pony phase by touring these castles with Thing 1 and Thing 2 my precious offspring (ages 7 and 10).

I’m drinking the Kool-Aid convinced we lead a more enriching life because of these learning experiences.

So far, our favorite castle to visit in Ireland with kids is Dalkey Castle, which is about 30 minutes south of Dublin and easily accessible via the DART.

Dalkey Castle is not the biggest, the fanciest or the most well-known castle in the area.

So what made the tour our favorite?

That’s easy! The specific information that was presented and HOW it was presented.

The Dalkey Heritage Center clearly gets the importance of the entertainment factor when it comes to the overall tourist experience. This was the first time we’ve visited a castle where our tour was conducted by professional actors in period attire.

The eyeballs in my children’s heads about POPPED out of their sockets when Rupert the Archer walked around the corner in the graveyard with his bow and arrow. They could tell this was not going to be your average tour experience.

favorite castle tour - bowman

Rupert shared very specific information about what kind of bow you would use to defend the castle, how far it would fly, what kind of damage it would do to a human.

If it sounds a little horrible, it was and it wasn’t. The 15th century was a pretty horrible time. Rupert the Archer was telling it like it was, but I suspect it was a little downplayed for the young ears.

All the kids and even a few big ones on the tour got to hold one of the bows.

favorite castle tour - crossbow

Rupert the Archer also shared other tricks for defending the castle.

There was only one castle entrance, as you can see below, where the stairs are located. Above the doorway is a little rectangle that continues up to the second floor. That’s called the murder hole. Anything and everything, included boiling urine was thrown down that hole onto the heads of invaders.

I’m just going to say it…that would keep me from invading a castle. Regular urine wasn’t bad enough…they had to boil it too?!?

favorite castle tour - diagram of castle

Along your tour you will meet some friends of Rupert the Archer. These might include the Cook, the Barber Surgeon and/or the Coin Minter.

On our tour we met the Cook who also filled in as the Barber Surgeon.

You will NEVER look at a barbershop pole the same after hearing about Barber Surgeons in 15th century Ireland. Trust me. If only they knew one or two things about germs.

favorite castle tour - minting coins

The kids did get to mint their own coin too.

They got a demonstration on coin minting and then were able to work the tools themselves.

No fingers were harmed during this process. Although, there was one close call. I still cringe.

favorite castle tour - minted coin

On the grounds of Dalkey Castle is St. Begnet’s Church and Graveyard.

Notice the small opening on the far back wall of the church. There on the bottom left?

favorite castle tour - church

That was originally a normal-sized door.

Apparently so many bodies have been buried on this site that the ground has been raised up significantly in the past 600 years.

Think about that for a moment.

favorite castle tour - stocks

Even the adults in our group RAVED about this castle experience.

From what was presented to how it was presented, we took away from this experience far more information and understanding about this period of history than we had from some of the other Irish castle tours.

Put this tour on your list and make time for lunch in Dalkey. It’s the cutest Irish village and you’ll be happy you did.


For more information on planning your visit to Dalkey Castle, click here.

 

 

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