Diary of a travel writer
How others report the Irish destination
MONDAY: Dublin has been humming for the weekend with 35,000 Americans over for the Navy-Notre Dame match.
Everyone has a story about them: the bartender who made €200 in tips, the restaurants that were booked out. And the event itself was a spectacle. Not the match, mind. The Americans have sucked all spontaneity out of their football, reducing it to a series of set pieces with long waits in between. But the bands and the colour and the atmosphere were great. Their Navy band is bigger than our Navy.
TUESDAY: Lunch with Simon Daly of British Airways, who has changed the game at Dublin Airport by bringing eight flights daily to Heathrow. It is one of BA's most profitable routes, he tells me and the airline will still codeshare with Aer Lingus.
WEDNESDAY: I take some time to stand at the mouth of the Corrib across from the Spanish Arch, looking back to Galway's cathedral (nicknamed Taj Micheal after the bishop who built it, Micheal Browne), the riverscape, and the tail end of the city crowds of Shop Street in the low evening sun. Galway is looking swell but there is something missing. After two Volvo Ocean races, why does Galway not have a marina?
THURSDAY: The rain has been good for Ireland this summer. The land is looking great for our busiest month for inbound tourism. The farmers are unhappy. Hoteliers must be less so.
FRIDAY: I join South African travel writer Graham Howe to catch up on old times. Dave Houston on the guitar and Dan O'Sullivan on the Uilleann pipes entertain us afterwards at the Auld Dubliner. Dave does the best version of Rare Auld Mountain View.
Tourism Ireland brings about 1,200 writers in on trips each year. Graham's itinerary has a surprise, because I thought I knew Ireland.
It includes the "Little Dublin Museum" at 15 St Stephen's Green where I have never been, as well as Trinity College, Guinness Storehouse, Belfast City Hall, Titanic Centre, the Transport Museum at Cultra, Carrick-a-Rede, Giant's Causeway, Derry's walls (with Martin McCrossan, a great tour guide).
Meals are in Gallagher's Boxty House, Gilroy's Bar, the Brazen Head (with a visit from Johnny Daly, "master storyteller of Irish legends and folklore") and several other fine eateries. Nice work if you can get it.
SATURDAY: In a radio studio pontificating about tourism and I say Tourism Ireland's jamboree, The Gathering, is a bad idea. Am I alone?
SUNDAY: At the All-Ireland hurling final with Etihad, whose sponsorship of the championship was a game changer for the GAA. Michael Cusack, from Carron, must be smiling at the notion of an Abu Dhabi airline helping his favourite pastime take its place among the leading field sports of the planet.