American Civil War anniversary remembered. . .in Dublin

As the United States begins a series of commemorations of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, this momentous conflict is even being marked beyond the nation’s borders.

This weekend the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin is having a series of events to mark the contribution of Irish immigrants on both sides of the Civil War. While most Irish immigrants went to the industrial North and thus ended up in the Union army, there were a significant number of Irish Confederates as well. Also, the famous New York City draft riots were mostly instigated by poor Irish immigrants who objected to the fact that rich people could buy their way out of the draft.

Unless you’re in Dublin at the moment you’ll miss the lectures and free live music, but if you’re going to Dublin check out the museum’s permanent Soldiers & Chiefs exhibition at Collins Barracks, which outlines Irish military history including the Irish people’s part in the American Civil War.

[Image of Lt. Col. James J. Smith and officers of 69th New York Infantry (Irish Brigade) courtesy Library of Congress]

Bargain shopping for castles – a fire sale on Ireland real estate

The great recession hit Ireland especially hard. Irish bankers lent money they didn’t have to people that spent it on speculative real estate made more expensive by the Irish bankers flooding the market with the money they didn’t have. Basically, cash became too accessible and property prices skyrocketed. This is the nature of any proper bubble. Like the tulips in 17th century Holland or a Jose Canseco rookie card in the early nineties, market hysteria drives prices up even when the true inherent value is stalled out in a place called reality.

As we know now, the market came crashing down, and today Irish castles can be purchased at a bargain, along with many other types of distressed real estate.

According to Bloomberg, the 12th century castle of Kilkea is currently on the market for 6 million euros – 10 million less than one year ago. The property had been used as a hotel for decades, though its last few tripadvisor reviews are not exactly glowing. Describing the establishment as “desolate and freezing” with “filthy outdated rooms,” the property is likely in need of gargantuan updates. On the bright side, Kilkea castle has its own wikipedia page. Does it get any more legit than that?

The castle has 36 bedrooms, 140 acres of land, and an abandoned nightclub. It also once housed a wizard. Sounds like the type of place Michael Jackson would have bought. The curious star had a penchant for Irish castles.Maybe castles are not your thing, too bourgeois perhaps. Well, around Dublin, many deals are to be had on all types of distressed property. With commercial property values dropping by up to 70% thanks to the failed perpetual value machine that was Irish banking, even the building cranes and forklifts are being auctioned off.

In the nightlife mecca of Temple Bar, you can purchase a flat for 80,000 euros. A 3 bedroom penthouse in central Dublin, once valued close to 1,000,000 euros, is a steal at 230,000 Euros. Perhaps you have plans of building your own mini castle. Well, land in beautiful Wicklow county is as cheap as 20,000 Euros for a plot. Check out more of the deals here. Maybe it is time to become an Irish expat.

The auction for distressed properties will take place April 15 at the Shelbourne Hotel.

flickr image via meglet127

Photo of the Day – 51 Irish coffees for St. Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! If you’re celebrating today in America, you’re probably planning to drink green beer or a nice pint of Guinness, but why not warm up with an Irish coffee, spiked with whiskey (Irish, of course)? In today’s Photo of the Day, Flickr user jrodmanjr snapped these 51 coffees in action at San Francisco‘s Buena Vista Cafe, which claims to have brought the drink to the United States from Ireland’s Shannon Airport and holds the Guinness World Record for most Irish coffees served. A fun photo bonus: another Flickr user caught the same coffees (and jrodmanjr) at the Buena Vista.

Take any pics of your favorite beverages while traveling? Upload them to the Gadling Flickr pool and we may use it as a future Photo of the Day.

Top 5 Dublin pubs

Dublin is the land of the pub. Several Irish revolutions began in Dublin’s public houses and many of Ireland’s literary giants frequently socialized over pints of the black stuff. To truly understand Ireland, pull up a chair at one of these 5 great pubs and watch the craic swirl around you. With St. Patricks Day quickly approaching, get in the spirit by checking out these top Dublin pubs.

5. Kavanagh’s aka Gravediggers
A pub on the edge of a massive graveyard, Kavanagh’s has seen its share of liquid mourning. Glasnevin Cemetery, the largest nondenominational cemetery in Ireland, shares a side wall with this old Victorian pub, built in 1833. Now on the sixth generation of Kavanagh, the bar has been family-run since its inception, and plays no music. Instead, the bar defers to the soundtrack of voices its patrons lend to the lively setting. The bars sobriquet, “Gravediggers,” arose because the gravediggers were not allowed to visit the bar during working hours, and so they devised a scheme around this nagging rule. They would bang on Kavanagh’s wall to a beat that constituted a specific drink order. The bartender would come outside and pass pints through the graveyard fence, though, according to Irish legend, the drinks passed straight through the brick wall.

Location: 1 Prospect Square Glasnevin, northern Dublin

4. Mulligan’s
1782 was a long time ago. This public house has been serving pints since that year. The facade and styling reflect that era and the brew could not be more perfect. According to the Irish, Mulligan’s pulls the best pint of Guinness in all of Ireland, a distinction not lost on famous patrons such as John F. Kennedy and James Joyce. In the early twentieth century, James Mulligan banned all furniture, stools, and any other sitting surface from the bar. His reasoning? He posited that when real men drank, they did so while standing. The furniture has since returned. This bar is located in the legendary Temple Bar district – the center of the universe for Dublin nightlife.

Location: Poolbeg Street, Temple Bar

3. O’Donoghues
For Irish music, this is the spot. Opened in 1934, this bar is relatively new compared to the rest of this list. Every night, music billows out from its large interior, beckoning travelers like a siren at sea. For a true Irish music experience that fires on all cylinders every night, look no further than O’Donoghues. The Dubliners, one of Ireland’s most famous crossover acts, got their start as a band here.

Location: Merrion Row, Off St. Stephen’s Green

2. Stag’s Head
On atmosphere alone, this is the best public house in Dublin. Everyone who visits Ireland should take in this beacon of Victorian masculinity. The wood paneling, scuffed old leather, and stained glass windows hearken back to a finer age of pub adornment. Opened in 1770, the bar has been a Dublin favorite for most of its existence, especially among the students from nearby Trinity College. The namesake Stag’s head hangs prominently above the bar, looking out on revelers from its central perch. According to Dublin lore, the head came from a deer that went deranged on the streets of Dublin and stuck its head in the door. They kept the head.

Location: 1 Dame Court, Central Dublin

1. Brazen Head
The best bar in Dublin is one of the oldest bars in the world. This bar opened in the 12th century. 1198! That is world is flat/no magna carta old school. In those days, it was not uncommon to stand shoulder to shoulder with a pillaging Viking while swilling some sort of old world brew. Today, the bar is great for music, atmosphere, food, and history.

The Irish are no strangers to revolution, and many an uprising was planned within these walls. In the 18th century, the Brazen was one of very few multi-story buildings in Dublin, and aspiring insurgents used the upper levels as a lookout for British soldiers and spies. In 1803, while plotting a revolt against England at the pub, Robert Emmet and his revolutionary cohorts were betrayed by a spy. They were executed. It is said that Emmet’s ghost haunts the halls of the Brazen Head.

Location: 20 Bridge Street Lower, Central Dublin

In a town with many great pubs, here are some serious honorable mentions:
Central Hotel Library Bar, The Ferryman, The Long Hall, The Vaults, O’Neills, McDaid’s, Kehoe’s Pub, Auld Dubliner, The Long Stone, and Neary’s.

flickr images via Infomatique, Aidan Casey, and Chadlewis76

Photo of the Day 3.17.10

Yes, I could have picked a pint of Guinness or featured an Irish pub to honor St. Patrick’s Day. Instead, I went with a photo that stands out among the usual sea of green.

Today’s photo of the day, titled “Show-off”, is brought to us by jrodmanjr. It’s true that not every clover is created equal, but this photo goes to show that if you look hard enough you might just find the one you’re looking for.

Have a photo you want considered for our Photo of the Day? Send it our way on the Gadling Flickr Pool, and have a happy St. Patrick’s Day!