A Visit to the Famine Ship, Jeanie Johnston, in Dublin

Dublin Jeanie Johnston 2016.jpg

Today turned out to be a nice, sunny morning for a visit aboard the Jeanie Johnston famine ship in Dublin, Ireland. I’ve driven by the ship many a time and always wanted to check it out. Amazingly enough, this tall ship never lost a passenger on the grueling journey from Ireland to America during The Great Famine. Other tall ships were nicknamed coffin ships for the nearly 30% mortality rate of their passengers while on board.

Jeanie was very cool and I enjoyed photographing her with the view of the River Liffey and Dublin’s beautiful bridges in the background. The tour itself was a 6/10….our guide was nice and fairly knowledgeable, but the tour just seemed lack luster. Be aware of very creepy, realistic mannequins once below deck; my kids were terrified and I had to listen to our guide from the bottom of the stairwell.

I’d say visit the Jeanie Johnston only if you have any extra time in Dublin, but definitely don’t skip St. Patrick’s Cathedral or Dublin Castle to have a tour of Jeanie.  Save your time and money and take a few quick snaps from the edge of the Liffey and read her history online. Click here for more info.

Whether or not you decide to check out the Jeanie Johnston, I recommend reading up on the Irish Famine of the 1840’s before you visit this beautiful country, as that event certainly helped shape the Irish culture and landscape of today. It may be some dark history, but it is enlightening and something most Americans were barely taught about in school.



Travel is a Mindset

Skerries Windmill 2016

Travel isn’t about the distance, but rather the experience itself.

One of the best things about living in Europe is the ability to travel relatively cheaply to experience new cultures and scenery. While you might not be able to afford Europe or somewhere far off, remember travel is about the experience, not necessarily the distance travelled. Yesterday, I went about 30 km away from my house (4o minute drive) and found this pictured above,….not Holland, but the Skerries Mills just outside the gorgeous seaside town of Skerries, Ireland.

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We walked on another amazing Irish beach with the view of an Irish grid style pasture to the right and a stony ruin to the left.

The colorful village had a wonderful coffee shop and down on the other side of the water we ate some amazing Buffalo chicken wings at Blue Bar. Skerries Beach 5 2016.jpgOur day finished off with a tour of the Skerries Mills, which are several hundred years old. Truly an amazing day packed with local history and something to delight all five senses. All just a 40 minute drive from home!!!

Do a Google search near your home and get started on your summer local travel bucket list. Trust me folks, my tiny home town even has some cool historical places to visit, interesting buildings to photograph, and yummy Eastern European cuisine to be devoured.

Happy Hump Day!!!


As always, photos are my own, so if you love it then please share it, but link back to my blog.

Happy Memorial Day 2016


Happy Memorial Day everyone!!! A special thanks to all the brave men and women who have served or do serve in the military. Luckily, we arrived back into Dublin from Donegal just in time to explore the US Coast Guard Eagle before she left. What an impressive ship who is much older than I thought she was. I got snappy with my camera and took some pretty amazing shots featuring the Eagle with the stunning Dublin skyline as her background.

I’ve got to say I was very impressed by the crew; they were very smart and kind tour guides. The kiddos got to keep a little coin from the ship and a map explaining all the Eagle’s history and stats. Thanks to the crew for a lovely experience and for serving our country. Wishing them a safe journey back to the USA!

Bonus!!!! Loving the look of Old Glory against the background of the Dublin skyline.

US Eagle Ship dublin skyline 2016

As always all photos are my own…if you like this post then please like it below, if you love it please share it, but be sure to link back to my blog and if you gotta have it, then buy it here.



Best Cheeseburger in Dublin

Dublin Wowburger

One of the hardest things about leaving your home country is leaving behind the food you love. While there is always new, yummy food to be had wherever you move, you will no doubt get a hankering for stuff from home. I have been craving a good old fashioned American cheeseburger since crossing the pond back in 2013….the cheeseburger to me is a fast and dirty little treat. It is not something to be fancied up and sold for 20 bucks a pop! Sorry no garlic aoili or guyere cheese for this Yankee! I’ll take an ooey gooey cheddary version with juicy beef, fresh onions, tomato, lettuce and pickles. Ya that’s right, no good cheeseburger comes without dill pickle slices; the dill pickle is not something you will find readily available here in the Emerald Isle.

I have been to all the great names here in Dublin and found them to be tasty, but never could I find something like the famous Five Guys Burgers and Fries of my homeland. As said before, the cheeseburger is a casual affair and making it gourmet is tantamount to turning Canadian poutine or any other street food you fancy into a hoighty toighty affair.

I’d heard about WowBurger a few months back thanks to Lovin Dublin, but had yet to venture downtown to give it a whirl. Today was the day my friends….hopped up on some Guinness guzzled during an early morning Irish pub photography adventure, I was ready for some WowBurger.

Dublin Wowburger 3

Wowburger is a bright, colorful little place tucked upstairs in the popular Bison Bar located at 11 Wellington Quay (key) Dublin 2. The menu choices were reminiscent of Five Guys with all toppings free. I must say I loved the quirky decor and simple nature of the place. I ordered a mini cheeseburger (single patty of beef) and my hubby ordered a bacon cheeseburger (double patty of beef) with a side of garlic butter fries.

Our orders got reversed, so I had a double cheeseburger (no problem here) and had to share with the big man I brought. The burgers were juicy & fresh, not to mention, amazing. Just like Five Guys 🙂  The garlic butter fries were to die for, but fair warning, they are shoestring fries, not the giant freshly cut potatoes I was expecting. The two of us got out of WB for 20 euros; not too shabby for two burgers, fries, and a pint of Murphy’s red ale. My only criticism is they need to offer fountain cokes for the complete experience. I shall return, but in the meantime, if you find yourself hangry for an American style burger then make sure you stop in to this hidden gem in Dublin.




Happy Paddy’s Day Week!

Jameson Barrels

Happy Paddy’s Day week, everyone! SO excited to leave for Italy tomorrow, but sort of bummed to miss Paddy’s Day here in Dublin. It is an amazing week to visit just in case you were wondering :0 Also, it is St. Paddy’s Day not St. Patty’s Day, my fellow Americans…Make sure you spell it right.

Lucky for me I will be in Rome on March 17th, so I will be getting a selfie in front of a Colosseum that is light up green in honor of St. Patrick. Yes!!!!!

I am not a huge fan of touristy type adventures, but my trip to Jameson distillery was amazing not only for the knowledge I gained, but for the photo ops I got whilst on site. I loved the look of these whiskey barrels resting in rows.

Stay tuned and join us for our Italian adventure….starting tomorrow!




  • photo is my own, so if you love it, share it…just link back to my blog 🙂

Dublin Samuel Beckett Bridge

Dublin SB Bridge

One of the best spots to photograph for Dublin bound travellers…the Samuel Beckett Bridge. Named after a famous, Irish author, this white, cable-stayed bridge can swing sideways to allow ships to pass through. Supposedly, the sight of the Samuel Beckett swung to the side is quite impressive but rarely happens.

You can Dublin Convention Center_.jpgget some amazing shots of the SB bridge with the glowing Dublin Convention center in the background. The best time to photograph this beautiful bridge is in the blue hour just as dusk is beginning. Set up shop on Sir Rogerson’s Quay near Cardiff Lane. You can walk up and down, easily setting up your tripod, on the large walkways along the River Liffey. These photos were shot with my Canon 7D, which I have since replaced with a Sony A6000.

Famished after photographing? Stop by the Ferryman pub for some grub and a pint, it is conveniently located just across the street from Samuel Beckett Bridge.Before you cross the street take a snap of the Ferryman, itself. Ferryman Pub.jpg




Dublin Lighthouses: Poolbeg Lighthouse

Dublin Poolbeg Lighthouse Far_.jpg

*All photos in the post are mine, if you love them be sure to share them, just link back to my blog please.

Poolbeg Lighthouse located at The Great South Wall, Poolbeg, Dublin is just a few minutes drive from either Sandymount Strand or Ringsend. If you are a tourist staying in either of these areas and enjoy photographing lighthouses, then take a few hours and enjoy this gorgeous walk. Locals, if you haven’t been…Poolbeg Lighthouse is not only beautiful, but the 1.6km walk out is an enjoyable stroll. Expect to see runners, families with children, couples, and plenty of four legged creatures traipsing up and down the stone cobbled walkway. Take in all the sites from seagulls to cruise ships to the remains of an 1840’s swimming/bathing club (pictured bottom right).

I spotted this lovely, aqua tower below and as luck would have it seagulls started swooping in to sneak in just as I snapped this shot.

Dublin Poolbeg Lighthouse Seagulls Tower.jpg

The grounds are not rugged and you can also enjoy some beach walking if the tide is low. Make sure to pack a warm, windproof, water resistant jacket, runners, & a hat as the weather can turn at the drop of a hat and it tends to be quite windy,even when the sun is shinging. Pack a lunch or some snacks & something to drink, as there are no eateries anywhere nearby. There is a coffee stand near the lighthouse, but I am not sure of the hours (the stand wasn’t there on a this past Sunday afternoon.  I did not notice any public toilets in the vicinity, so prepare according.

Some close up details are a must…the view through this rusted out cogwheel was pretty neat.

These photos were taken using my new, mirrorless camera, Sony A6000. Wow, couldn’t be more impressed with the outcome. I’m not missing my Canon 7D one bit!

The landscape on the walk back was equally as impressive with the Poolbeg Towers and the Dublin port.

Dublin Poolbeg Towers_

Happy Monday,


Malahide Castle Is A Great Day Trip From Dublin

Malahide Castle.jpg

*Photo is my own, if you love it then be sure to share it just link back to my blog.

Planning a visit to Ireland??? Many travellers use Dublin as simply a port of entry and exit while they plan on exploring the rest of the country…big mistake! Dublin boasts traditional Irish pubs, live music, and legendary history. One of my favorite medieval castles is located just on the outskirts of Dublin and it is where I am taking you today. The Malahide castle was the first, I repeat, the first place I visit when I landed from America. The castle and surrounding town did not disappoint!

How ya gonna get there? Malahide Castle & Gardens is located only 9km north of Dublin, just outside the pretty town of Malahide, and can be conveniently accessed via the DART train. Expect around a 30 minute journey; if you have a car, then the best route is via the M50. Travellers looking to tour a medieval castle have got it made here….parts of the castle date back to the 12th century. Surprisingly, other than about 10 years during Cromwell’s occupation, this estate remained in the hands of the Talbot family for its entire existence until 1976.

The guided tours run from 930am-430pm, seven days a week and it is reasonable to spend 2-3 hours touring the house and spending time in the gardens. There is a nice AVOCA cafe inside the grounds, so great for coffee, snacks or a full meal if you prefer. The tour guides have been excellent on each of my 3 visits, providing a thorough, but concise explanation of each room you visit in the castle. Most have a sense of humour too! The period furniture, rugs, and accessories are absolutely amazing. You will have plenty of time for photo opportunities during the tour.

*Thanks to my husband for these photos inside the castle. http://www.flanagan-photography.com

While the food at the AVOCA cafe is tasty, my advice is to save mealtime for the town of Malahide. Just a short walk from the castle, prepare to fall in love with the colorful, unique buildings and the small town coziness of Malahide. You will be spoilt for choice when it comes to pubs & eateries!

Those looking for an Irish pub with traditional music should head down to Oscar Taylors or Gibney’s Pub. Just thirsty???? A nice informal bar for a few drinks is Gilbert & Wrights or for a more contemporary vibe and something to munch on, choose Duffy’s. The Scotch Bonnet has very eclectic decor, comfy couches to lounge on and is family friendly with yummy food.

After your feast allow some time to meander down to the gorgeous Malahide beach…2km of soft sand that allows for tranquil views and peaceful walks along the beach. On a clear day you may get to see Lambay Island, Ireland’s eye and Howth. Phenomenal picture taking is here, my friends. Along the beach is The Grand Hotel which is worth a walk into for a pint and quick break before heading back into city centre.

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*Thanks to my husband for these photos inside the castle. http://www.flanagan-photography.com

For more great information on Malahide click here.



Malahide Gardens

Flowers Malahide Gardens

*If you love it, share it! Just don’t forget to link back to this blog as photo is my own.

Today’s photo and post are taking it back to Fall 2014 after I had take a photography course and began to actively use my Canon 7D. I can’t believe how far I’ve come!!!!

Malahide Castle was the first place I visited when I moved to Ireland in October 2013. I was literally 2 days off the plane and still jet lagged. Not too mention this Floridian was freezing her tail off in the frigid 40 degree weather. With numb fingers & toes I waited on the DART to take me to this castle my husband wanted the kids and I to see.

The photo above is from Sept 2014 on a much sunnier day; I snapped away  as quickly as I could to avoid being chased by the bees that day 🙂 The gardens at Malahide castle are both exotic & beautifully kept. One of my favorite things here in the Emerald Isle is the gardens featured at many of the castles/houses.

Stay with me tomorrow as we tour Malahide Castle.

🙂 Heather

Chubby Gloworm

As the weather gets colder here, one Buster Brown, aka Mr. Big, must don his winter attire. Large dogs are not afforded the variety of fashion choices the way smaller dogs are…..this means a dog built like Mr. T. gets stuck wearing a fluorescent orange hunting vest. Sadly, this “coat” made our normally svelte boxer look chubby….a chubby Gloworm to be exact.

On a normal day (one where Big isn’t wearing a coat) my two year old son will laugh hysterically the entire trip to his big sister’s school because the dog is riding in the car. This afternoon I loaded a giggly, wriggling boy into his carseat while an idiot of a brown dog attempted to sit in a Britax carseat. Maniacal laughter and snorting (Buster) was my chorus on the 1.5 mile trip to pick up my daughter. Luckily, the DART (Dublin train) was right on schedule with my school pick up so we got trapped on a side street for 10 minutes and I was able to take this rather fetching pic of Mr. Big.


I will give you a little background on the history of Buster picking up his little girl from school, so you can begin to understand what we encountered today. My daughter attends an all girls school; all the little girls in her class and both kindergarten teachers know Buster by name (although they may not know my name). The 4-5 year old girls will generally get extremely excited if he has accompanied me for a pick up (or as the Irish say collection). Today was an absolute mob scene….these girls went INSANE when they saw Mr. Big in his brightly colored coat. Literally, screaming and running to him as if he had candy. I was actually late to get my child because of the melee Buster caused.

A classmate of my daughter’s came running up to us to strangle Buster with love and amidst her screams of excitement her mother looked at the dog and said, “Hi Buster! I love your coat, it’s brilliant!” She gave me a quick nod and then the two walked away. Yep, she didn’t even know my name. I hadn’t seen her before, but she clearly had heard of the legend that is Mr. Big aka Buster.

Pretty crazy to think this big, dumb brown dog is known and loved by a group of 4-5 year old little Irish girls who have only heard of his greatness secondhand. They await his school pick ups knowing they are few and far between….what they don’t know is that he is a super jerk and that is why he rarely visits the schoolyard. But today they all got to see him in his glorious, winter coat….our very own chubby Gloworm.

I endured another giggly ride home (no DART this time thank goodness) and as I was about to back into my driveway a huge garbage truck flew around the bend in our complex. The driver screeched the giant truck to a halt almost in front of our house and then the three men inside the vehicle saw Buster. While I can’t read lips I could see the look of adoration on all three of the men’s faces, as they stopped for much longer than necessary to get a look at this giant, orange coated beast. Bust was not surprised at all, as he has spent the majority of his life being admired by blue collar workers…..he is used to the “that’s a good lookin dog ya got there”, or some other redneck compliment yelled from a truck in his general direction. I do believe he is somewhat uncomfortable with the more formal, “He’s gorgeous. He’s lovely. He’s brilliant. May I stroke him?” types of compliments he receives in Dublin. Today’s ogling garbagemen were met with a disdainful glance, angry snort growl, and bulging neck veins as Buster tried to show them just who’s driveway they were in front of. This display of brute strength and stupidity only proved to make the men more interested.

As I bring this post to a close my husband kindly has reminded me that upon Buster’s arrival to Dublin airport an Irish vet met him and the first words out of his mouth were, “That’s a good looking dog there. Is he a military dog?” To which my husband replied, “No, he’s just got really big shoulders and the only coat available was in camouflage.” It looks like Big has two pieces of clothing now….one fluorescent orange coat and one camouflage fleece vest.  It is getting late here so I am off to bed; I hope you all enjoyed this little tale of Mr. Big.