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St Patrick’s Festival Scavenger Hunt 2010 by Ann Treacy
March 15, 2010, 11:12 am
Filed under: Dublin

St Patrick’s Festival Scavenger Hunt is one of my favorite events of the year. This year 4 of us participated. Patrick stayed home to work, but that was good because he would just slow us down and the teams can only be 4 people.

I tracked the route on Google (today, that is not on race day). I must say, I did very well and our path was very close to the Google route. Google says we walked 7 miles and it should take about 2 hours and 22 minutes. It took us about 3 hours. I’m going to say we walked a lot more partially because I didn’t track out route from the bus, or include the diversions. (Never mind we stayed in town for 3 hours after the hunt walking around!) When we got back to home base they said we were in 30th place. Not bad! Along the route you can see lots of participants on the bus or in taxis, which is actually allowed although we think those people are wimps! We walk the whole way. Also few teams have a five-year-old.

I’ve included a map of out trails. We visited:

A. City Hall ->
B. National College of Art & Design ->
C. IMMA at Kilmainham Hospital ->
D. Lighthouse Cinema Smithfield ->
E. Hugh Lane, Parnell Square ->
F. James Joyce Center ->
G. National Library, Kildare Street ->
H. National Gallery Merrion Square ->
I. Number 29 Fitzwilliam Street ->
J. Wax Museum, Dame Street -> (this is actually wrong on the map)
K. Back to City Hall

We also had a diversion into Trinity and a few places along O’Connell Street to answer bonus questions. We had such a great time. The girls won loads of nice spot prizes – including free passes for the rides at the fun fair, which we planned to use the next day. (We found out that was about a €50 savings!) They got a silly hat, t-shirts, coupons, painted faces. They sang songs for the prizes. We had a little low point at the Georgian House (No 29) when we realized that in the thrill of winning carnival passes, we’d left our stamp sheet back at the National Gallery. So the girls got a few minutes to chill at No 29 and I got a chance to sprint back. They were well placed as there’s a café in No 29 and each visitor is asked to perform a party piece to get a prize – so they were well entertained.

We had visited most of the places before – but the Wax Museum was new to us – partially because it opened recently. I’ve added two pictures from the wax museum – one with flash and one without, so that you could see it as we saw it (without lights).

After the scavenger hunt we hung out in town. We had our favorite lunch at the Meeting House Market Square – dumplings, brats and crepes. We checked out some of the art around Temple Bar, which included a stuffed cat with a stuffed mouse coming out of his back end. I use the term art loosely here, as you can see. I did love the cardboard washing machines. Then we headed to George’s Street Market, since the girls had seen that on TV earlier in the week. And then we sort of winded our way back home. Sadly we ended up on the slow bus home – but that was OK. (That’s a highlight we don’t’ talk about much, ending a 6 hour day in town with a 45 minute bus ride home.)

TEDx Dublin by Ann Treacy
March 14, 2010, 9:43 am
Filed under: Dublin

TED is an annual event where some of the world’s leading thinkers and doers are invited to share what they are most passionate about. “TED” stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. Maybe you’ve seen some of the videos – they are all available online and they are really interesting! TEDx is an independent TED event. We attended the third such event hosted at the Science Gallery. Apparently it sold out in 15 minutes! But I’m that good I scored us tickets.

Here were the live speakers (one presentation was a video of a past TED speaker (Ken Robinson); none were dead as I realized the last statement might imply):

  • Margaret Wertheim, The Institute for Figuring – She started a project crocheting coral reef. Apparently crochet is the perfect medium because of hyperbolic geography in both. We’ll be learning a lot more as that’s the next exhibit at the Science Gallery.
  • Luke O’Neill, Professor in the School of Biochemistry and Immunology – he talked about how immunology has changed in the last 15 years. How they have been able t understand that the “inactive” part of the immune system is actually more important than the “active” and how they are creating new proteins to help the immune system protect humans.
  • Mark Cummins, Creator of Plink – He created a visual search engine application. You snap a shot of a work of art and the search engine can tell you what it is no matter how crappy the snapshot is. Very interesting to hear how they are teaching computers to learn images.
  • Simon Berrow, Founder of Shannon Dolphin and Wildlife Foundation – He talked about basking sharks and how they/he realized that you can get their DNA through their slime. Basking sharks are also called sunfish. They aren’t like sturgeon, but like sturgeon they are endangered and largely unknown.
  • Damini Kumar, Programme Director of Product Design at NUI Maynooth and Ireland’s Ambassador for the 2009 European Year of Creativity and Innovation – She created the drip-less teapot and talked about lateral thinking.

Each speaker has 18 minutes to talk about their thing. The focus, if there is one, seems to be on creativity and innovation. Or at least each talked about how they were able to be creative or innovative. I don’t know how interesting it is to have me paraphrase the talks, but here are a few things I noted:

  1. Each seemed to define creativity or innovation as a unique thought that provides value.
  2. One speakers said if you’ve failed, you probably aren’t being creative. It was remarked that America was more accepting of failure than Europe and that kids kind of get that freedom to fail knocked out of them in school.
  3. All of the speakers had a deep passion for what they did. Each knew the history, the science and the mythology of their industry as well as the ins and outs of their specific invention or innovation.
  4. They all started with research and motivation.
  5. Collaboration was also key. There’s no point in reinventing the wheel – but there may be ways you can make the wheel better.

It was a great night. All of the speakers were amazing. You’d think that given the jobs each had that there’d be some that were way more interesting to me than others – but each had that super passion that draws you in – even if you’d never really heard of a basking shark before. (Now I was to go to Donegal to see them!)

Rough week by Ann Treacy
March 14, 2010, 9:29 am
Filed under: Dublin, Dun Laoghaire

So we had sort of a rough week. Lily miscalculated a party. Patrick and I ended up at a lecture that was longer than we anticipated one day and missing a lecture by a friend the next. Patrick’s mom has had several friends with house break-ins. Subsequently both Patrick and I have set off the alarm here. We just kind of hit the end of winter blahs.

But we did get a tour of City Hall during the Festival of the Book.  We saw a rowing race on the Liffey (maybe UCD vs Trinity). Lily and I trekked around Stephen’s Green while Aine and Kate played in the park. We took some pictures there and we did sneak an afternoon in Dun Laoghaire – and we took some pictures there.

And as you’ll see in upcoming posts, which I’ll try to do today or tonight, things are looking up!

We touched an Oscar by Ann Treacy
March 7, 2010, 8:38 pm
Filed under: Dublin

I thought this was timely – sadly I don’t have any pictures but…

On Wednesday we all went to see the Irish animated films that have been nominated for Academy Awards at the Irish Film Institute. What was fun is that the 3 films had representatives there to say a few words about each movie. The guy from The Secret of Kells was great. He was French, he accent was pretty thick, but he was clearly so happy to have been nominated that you had to be excited for him! So first we saw Granny O’Grimm (posted below – I got it from YouTube, I didn’t bootleg it!). It is very funny.

Then they showed The Door – but it’s not for kids, so we left the theater. (The movie is only 20 minutes.) So we were hanging out in the lobby and one of the IFI directors sort of took pity on us and started talking to us. Then she suggested that maybe we’d like to see an Oscar – and she let us hold it! The Oscar belonged to Josie MacAvin, she won it for set decoration in 1985 for Out of Africa. The Oscar is pretty heavy although it feels as if it isn’t solid. I’m not a big movie goer or follower but I have to say every year when I watch the Oscars I wonder what’s it’s like to hold one. Now we know.

After that big thrill we watched the third movie – The Secret of Kells. It is a beautiful movie. Again, not a movie goer, but I was happy to see it on the big screen. Coincidentally, we went to see the Book of Kells just a couple of weeks ago – so we had an added interest.

Quick update – last night Patrick took the kids to see Alice in Wonderland and everyone loved it. I worked, but that was good too.

Birthday party at Gordon Ramsay’s by Ann Treacy
March 1, 2010, 12:28 pm
Filed under: Wicklow

Irish Grandma’s birthday is February 29 – but we celebrated on February 28. Fearghal sent me an email earlier in the week so say everything was arranged and he would pick us up at 12:30 on Sunday. He wouldn’t tell us where we were going. Some guessed the Roundwood Inn; but I thought that was too obvious. What none of us expected was the Gordon Ramsay restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton in Wicklow.

First, the hotel is beautiful! The setting is amazing. The restaurant a lower floor so I was amazed to see how wonderful the view was- you overlook the Sugarloaf Mountain. Apparently in the summer they have lunches out on the veranda. On Sunday they let the kids run around a bit out there between courses.

The service is stellar, as you would imagine. The girls tried to sneak from the bathroom to the table without anyone opening a door for them. I think the succeeded once. The food was wonderful. I had red pepper risotto for starter, tuna for mains and raspberry financiers with apple ice cream for dessert. We started with an amuse bouche of soup and a ton of bread. And we ended with a few trays of petit fours. We should never need to eat again. My favorite was the dessert. The apple ice cream was tart and was such an unusual but good blend with the raspberries. Also Kate got cookies and milk and shared so I got my chocolate fix too. It was a spectacular meal and Fearghal was so generous to invite all of us. We would have understood if he only brought Irish Grandma.

Gordon wasn’t there – but that’s OK we enjoyed the serenity of no one yelling. It really is a very relaxing place. We could get used to the lifestyle. Aine announced right away that she would be happy to live in the hotel. Lily gave Irish Grandma a rosary that she had made, which was very nice.

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