Corrs Corner

Editor Frank Corr gives his views on the hospitality and tourism industries, shares anecdotes and gossip and welcomes your contributions.

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Happy Holiday !

Christmas shopping took me to some major malls in and around Dublin, during which I looked around for some evidence that we are about to celebrate the birth of Christ. There was precious little.

The places were festooned with lights, glitter, Santas, reindeer and invitations to buy an arrray of goods. But even the word 'Christmas' was hard to find. Instead I was wished 'Season's Greetings' or the dreaded American 'Happy Holiday'.

Eventually I did find Christmas when we took our grandchildren to the Glenroe Farm in County Wicklow. Here there was an authentic old-fashioned experience- a nativity scene in an actual stables complete with live animals, Santa and 'Mrs Clause' sitting in their kitchen, surrounded by pots and pans and ready to talk at length to the children, a good quality gift for every child, a puppet show and a chance to visit and feed real deer. And all for €15 with free admission for adults.

Glonroe Farm is a gem at any time- buit especially when Santa comed to stay.

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'Little' is Large

Early for an appointment yesterday I checked out The Green's two new attractions- the Euro King Discount Shop and the 'Little Museum'.

The 'Euro Shop' could be in Liffey Street or anywhere else. It has a wide range of stock priced at €2 or under and , if you are shopping for anything from a phone charger to 'Original Werthers', it offers amazing value. It also seems to be very busy with the queue for the tills stretching back down the aisle and customers dressed in sharp suits and designer labels.

But the 'Little Museum of Dublin' is something else. Spread over just two rooms of a Georgian House owned by Dublin City Council, it is an eclectic collection of posters, photographs, letters, cinema and tram tickets, milk bottles and cardboard boxers covering the period1900 to 2000. Despits its simplicity it is marvelously interesting and evocative. Queen Victoria in Dun Laoghaire, Dev under arrest, a 'Republic of Ireland Bond', the Eucharistic Congress, a Clery's suit box, Brendan Behan and Kavanagh, the Theatre Royal, JFK's lectern, Bertie's first election poster, the Dublin Millennium Milk Bottle, Christy Browne and U2- it is all here on one amazingly compact display.

There is a Guided Tour and an art exhibition downstairs.

Well done Trevor White and your supporters.

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Effin Breaks

To-day's news includes the defence of Leo Varadkar for his 'take a holiday' comments and the Facebook rejection of the village of Effin in County Limerick.

Leo was 'just doing his job', say his fellow Ministers. He is, after all, Minister for Tourusm, and in tellling people that 'the Budget willl not be so bad and you an still take a holiday', he was promoting the industry. Leo does not go in for flowery rhetoric, so he just said that 'your wages will be intact, you might have to pay a bit extra VAT on your fridge and €100 house tax, but that's about the size of it' (or words to that effect). Fine- if you have wages, are not unemployed and have enought to feed the kids on Social Welfare payments, some of which migt be cut next week. As some people saw it, he was goading the less well off and the marginalised.

Then I read that Facebook considers 'Effin' to be a 'dirty word'. Well, we never thought so when we went to dances in the 'Effin Hall' in Limerick during the 1950s. We dated 'Effin Girls', drank in 'Effin Pubs' and I was even friendly with the 'Effin Parish Priest'.

But the Facebook shunning of this noble Limerick village has attracted publicity and it could lead to a tourism slogan that Leo might endorse- 'Take an Effin Break This Year'

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'Alternative Budget'

Just brillliant !. Go see the video which McWilliam Park Hotel in Claremorrris has posted on YouTube.

It takes the form of a Budget Speech by the Minister for Finance (aka David Glynn), but is in fact a tour of the hotel's facilities with the 'Minister' announcing special deals and reduced prices all through the hotel, from guestrooms to banqueting to bars, spa and restaurants.

It is creatively produced, great fun and boy- does it get across a message of great value and service at the McWilliam Park.

You can find it on YouTube

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Latte Lore

I am a late convert to lattes, which people tell me is not a 'real man's drink'. Even so, I have come to enjoy the milky coffee concotion which is for sale just about everywhere- from the local petrol station to gourmet restaurants.

The 'lattes' however vary enormously in terms of quality, temperature, presentation and price. Sometimes I get tepid milk with a hint of coffee and other times I get a perfectly blended beverage, rich and warm with a topping of 'latte art' (those swirls which good baristas can create). Sometimes I get just a latte in a mug and other times I get a tall glass with a handle. Sometimes I get only coffee and other times I get a little biscuit and (in the case of Butler's cafes) a delicious chocolate, including one called 'latte.'

The price also varies- from a modest €1.85 charged for an excellent latte by a hospital cafe in South Dublin to €3.40 in a Dublin city restaurant which also disappointed in the quality and service.

And my 'Best Overall Latte' to--date ?- of all places in the McCafe at McDonalds in Grafton Street.

And you get to drink it while enjoying the best 'people watching' experience anywhere in the capital.

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