Category: Dublin


August 30th, 2010 — 6:11am

Last Monday, on my final day in Dublin, I had the pleasure of taking in some of Ireland’s legendary countryside.

What A View: Enjoying Ireland's stunning Wicklow Mountains

I chose , a company known for providing lively tours for a smaller groups in comfortable vans. As soon as I met our guide Edmund, I knew we were in for a great afternoon. An avuncular guy who became a guide after retiring, Edmund was one of the best guides I’ve ever encountered in my travels.

“A thousand different shades of green — that’s Ireland,” he said poetically during one stop on the tour.

As is the Irish way, Edmund spoke like a storyteller (instead of in that canned, sleep-inducing cadence of most guides). And he truly made what we were seeing come alive, sharing such tidbits as where Oscar Wilde grew up to the argument that ensued over where a white line should be drawn along a country road. Best part — when Edmund used his charm to convince one of the Garda (Ireland police) to let us into a scenic area that was closed off for a movie shoot.

The full day tour included the Wicklow Mountains (and areas seen in “Braveheart and PS I Love You”), the charming lakeside town of Glenadlough and lunch at an authentic Irish pub where I had my first taste of Guinness and beef stew.

After the tour, I had just enough time to head back to the Brooks Hotels and freshen up for my date with Patrick, the sweet forty something bachelor I’d met at speed dating a few days before.

Patrick planned a lovely evening, which began with a drink at the swanky Shelbourne Hotel. From there, we walked over to Bleu Bistro, settling into a corner table as we talked about family (he’s one of 10, and uncle to 23 nieces and nephews), the beauty of Ireland and our shared appreciation for salsa and Michael Jackson.

At one point, Patrick reached across the table and took my hand, telling me that he would love to see me return to Dublin at the end of my trip. He walked me back to my hotel, where he pulled me into a goodnight kiss.

Contrary to what I heard from most single gals in Dublin, there’s a lot to be said for men from the Emerald Isle.

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August 28th, 2010 — 8:31am

Last weekend, I met up for drinks with thirtysomething Irish bachelor Tim, a friend of local single gal Ellie.

Dakota: Tim and I met up at this trendy Dublin restaurant (photo courtesy: Steve Garfield, Flickr)

Cute, whip smart and outgoing, Tim had great insights to share about dating in Ireland. Fascinated by the psychology of relationships and working on a book about the culture of Ireland, Tim shared his view about why there’s a disconnect among singles.

Ireland’s complicated history has created what Tim calls a bog mentality, where people are resistant to change and they take comfort in keeping their head down — i.e., not taking chances by making the first move.

While he agrees that Irish men don’t take enough initiative, Tim says Irish women contribute to that by not knowing how to flirt or even trying to. He admires the New York approach to dating because it has something absent from dating in Ireland — proactive strategy.

After drinks at Dakota, a trendy bistro and bar, we headed over to Hogan’s, a lively pub packed with locals that you can tell have been going there for years. The easy conversation continued, with Tim and I talking about Irish hero Michael Collins, travel and the merits of ham and cheese sandwiches (or toasties, as they’re called in the Emerald Isle).

As we headed over to one last pub, Tim took my hand and held it for a few minutes. I smiled, thinking how this dating blitz is proving to be a happy reminder of something — that there are plenty of good single guys out there, you just have to be a little creative about where you look for them.

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August 27th, 2010 — 2:03pm

Saturday night, I enjoyed my second great experience of Ireland’s — a party for thirty and fortysomething singles.

Does It Fit: Mingling at the lock and key portion of MysteryDates' fun party

Held at Kobra Bar, a spacious venue on Leeson Street just off St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin, the action-packed event featured speed dating, DJ dancing, BBQ food outdoors and something I’ve always wanted to try, lock and key mingling (I.e. you walk around trying to find the person whose key opens your lock).

Much like speed dating, the party felt like a gathering of old friends and not a meat market. I smiled when I ran into Patrick — one of the guys I had met at speed dating. I guess even across the pond, it’s a small world when it comes to single men over the age of 35.

Host Hugh Redmond introduced me to single guys Noel and Pete, who admitted liquid courage is a prerequisite for approaching women. When I asked if it’s true there’s a stigma to being single in Dublin, Pete said he used to feel that way.

“What changed?” I asked.

“I realized I would rather be single than in a bad relationship like so many of my friends are,” he said.

“Cheers to that!” I said, and we all raised our glasses.

At the bar, I found myself chatting with slick, smooth talking local bachelor Ivor. His charm wore thin after one too many double entrendres about his lock not fitting in my key.

One of the evening’s highlights — meeting fellow NYC single gal Jillian.

NYC Single Gals In Dublin: Jillian and me

“I’m here to meet my man,” she said of her three-week Ireland holiday and being fed up with Gotham bachelors.

We agreed that Dublin guys seem less concerned with the superficial (your waist size and income) and far more approachable. I couldn’t help wondering how our experience of them is necessarily different because we’re not from Ireland, a subject that would come up again on date #2.

Later, Jillian and I — joined by the adorable Irish lad she hit it off with — braved the scene at Dublin’s #1 pick up spot, Copperface Jack’s. It’s no exaggeration to say that everyone under the age of 30 is here, bumping and grinding or kissing a random stranger.

As I surveyed the packed, far too hair gelled and made up crowd, I had two thoughts — 1) Now I know why I was never into the club scene and 2) I’m way too old to be here.

Which is why I was surprised to feel someone pinch my rear end. Inappropriateness notwithstanding, the gesture was a welcome one. No matter what your age is, it’s always nice to be reminded you’ve still got it!

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August 26th, 2010 — 7:04pm

One of the biggest differences between my Europe dating blitz and the US one is taking more downtime this time around. Saturday, I enjoyed an afternoon of exploring Dublin on foot. My companion — German expat and blogger Marcel. 

Fellow Bloggers: Marcel and me at Light House Cinema

Marcel and I connected before I arrived, when he graciously helped me connect with a few local single gals. An eBay staffer, Marcel is also a freelance travel writer.

Over a delightful lunch at The Winding Stair, a charming restaurant with the feel of an old library located in Dublin’s Temple Bar district, we talked about the joys of train travel, the irresistibly demonstrative nature of Italians and the large size of Dublin’s expat community. It occurred to me during our conversation that, much like being single, travel is something that forges an instant bond when you’re meeting someone for the first time.

After lunch, Marcel and I strolled around the city, taking in ancient churches and a Viking festival along the way, then stopping at Light House Cinema Smithfield — an independent film theater with a modern museum vibe. 

The Perfect Pint: Enjoying Guinness at Dublin's Gravity Bar

Later, I headed off to one of Dublin’s top attractions, the Guinness Storehouse. In addition to learning the four ingredients of Ireland’s beloved beer (yeast, barley, hops and water, FYI), I found out the Storehouse makes 6 million pints daily and is the world’s second largest brewery. Best part — enjoying a free pint of Guinness while taking in 360 degree views of Dublin from Gravity Bar.

Up next…an eventful Saturday night out in Dublin and rediscovering what I love about London!

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August 25th, 2010 — 11:22am

Friday night, after meeting up at Dublin’s Trinity College, thirtysomething Irish bachelor Pete and I headed over to Bewley’s for coffee in the city center.

Trinity College: Pete and I met up here for our date

I quickly discovered Pete and I had a lot in common — including a willingness to be adventurous and to travel a long way for the sake of fun and rejuvenation. I also learned that Pete enjoys long bike rides, working hard for his family’s company and dabbling in musical theater from time to time. The more he shared about himself, the more I was taken with him.

From Bewley’s, we headed off on a mini pub crawl, starting at Bruxelle’s, which has been around since 1876. Pete filled me in on Bruxelles’ rich music history (U2 and Thin Lizzy both played here back in the day) before we moved to another pub where we stood outside among the after-work crowd.

Pete mentioned his upcoming weekend visit to New York and birthday.

“Happy Birthday,” I said.

“I’m sorry you won’t be here for it,” he said.

Pete asked me what New York men are like, my first thought was that they don ‘t hold a candle to their Irish counterparts. Especially when Pete told me–

“This is the best evening I’ve had in awhile.”

“Me too,” I said, suddenly feeling like the many lackluster first dates I’d gone on before this trip happened ages ago.

For our last stop, Pete took me to Vat Bar so I could get my first experience of traditional Irish music. We took pictures together with each of our cameras. I didn’t want the night to end.

Pete walked me back to my hotel.

“If you need anything while you’re here,” he offered, “24-7 — just call or text me.”

Then, with a quick hug and kiss on the cheek, he was gone. Though I had hoped the evening would end with a kiss goodnight, I couldn’t stop smiling. Spending time with Pete restored my faith in romance and the existence of good guys. The easy chemistry between us, the thrill of possibility — both reminders of why it’s always worth taking a chance and putting yourself out there.

You just never know when someone great is going to cross your path. I’m hoping mine crosses with Pete again — maybe on one of his next visits to NYC.

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August 24th, 2010 — 7:17pm

Friday, I headed over to the studios of Ireland’s TV3, to tape an appearance on with Sybil and Martin.

On The TV3 Set: Me with co-anchors Sybil Mulcahy and Martin King

While getting primped to go on air, TV3’s hair and makeup gals echoed what other local bachelorettes have told me about Irish men being “Mammy’s boys.” One of the girls said she knew it was time to leave one boyfriend when she found his mother washing her underwear.

Before the segment (which you can watch at the end of ), I had the pleasure of chatting with affable co-host Martin King and fellow show guests Jane Downes and Oonagh Kelly, who were giving job search tips. We talked about how a bad date often feels like an interview — and had a good laugh about the Cleveland bachelor from my US dating blitz who brought up, ahem, salad tossing on our first date.

After the show, I returned to the , a comfortable and elegant four-star hotel located in the heart of Dublin with a first-class staff. For dinner I tried Francesca’s, the hotel’s cozy restaurant.

While enjoying a delicious tomato cream soup and roasted hake with sautéed vegetables, I noticed two couples laughing animatedly at the next table. For as much as I’m rediscovering that I enjoy my own company, I couldn’t help thinking about how great it is to share the pleasure of a good meal with someone special. I was also thinking about my date for the evening, with Irish bachelor Pete.

Pete had read about my dating blitz and emailed me. The three photos he sent were of a handsome, blue-eyed guy with dark curly hair and an irresistible smile. But his Gmail and Twitter profile pictures looked like someone else altogether. Exactly who was I meeting? I wondered.

When I walked up to the entrance to Dublin’s famed Trinity College, my heart skipped a beat. Pete wasn’t quite like the photos he’d sent — he was even cuter.

“I’ve been looking forward to this for awhile,” he said as he bent down to kiss me on the cheek.

“Me too,” I said, returning his smile.

A perfect beginning.

Coming up…a visit to Ireland’s breathtaking Wicklow Mountains and the scoop about Dublin date #3!

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August 23rd, 2010 — 1:15pm

Thursday night, at Dublin’s Café en Seine, I chatted with forty something Irish bachelor Patrick. Tall, with a warm smile and salt and pepper hair, Patrick was easy to talk to.

After a few minutes, it was time to head upstairs to a private section of the restaurant for speed dating hosted by . Speed dating organizations in the US could stand to take a few pages out of MysteryDates’ book. The company selected a much more upscale venue and offered light hors d’oeuvres, which encourages post-event mingling instead of bolting New York-style.

Host Hugh Redmond also keeps things moving along seamlessly by announcing into a microphone when each five-minute date is over. A very welcome departure from the more jarring US tradition of sounding a cow bell or whistle. You barely have time to register who’s in front of you because of the ringing in your ears.

The biggest, most refreshing difference from speed dating in NYC? The men, of course.

In New York, speed dating conversations tend to feel like job interviews. Gotham men will quiz you on your job, zip code and hobbies as though they’re going through a checklist to decide if you’re worthy of more than a few minutes of their time. Here, in keeping with Dublin’s friendly, convivial vibe, all of the bachelors I met were down to earth and what they talked about reflected that.

There was Brendan, who shared his affection for San Francisco and excitement about visiting Austria soon. And Mark, who observed that conversation goes much further than good looks when you’re dating.

“You want to look at someone and know you can have a laugh with her,” he said.

Of course, there was the inevitable socially awkward contingent. Like the guy who spent a little too long talking about U2. Or the bachelor who spent our five minutes together describing his ex girlfriend’s mortgage — and how the constitution of his, ahem, bowels changed when he last traveled to the US. Yikes.

Of all the men I met, Patrick was by far the sweetest. Which is why I’m looking forward to spending my final evening in Dublin with him.

Coming up…the details about my date with Irish bachelor #2 and the next stop on my European Dating Blitz — London!

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August 22nd, 2010 — 1:44pm

Thursday, after a rainy afternoon of exploring Dublin from a , I headed over to Café En Seine on Dawson Street. The occasion — speed dating hosted by , Ireland’s top speed dating company.

At Café en Seine: Hugh and me

Before the event, I met up with Hugh Redmond, who runs MysteryDates and sister company , which hosts a variety of singles parties and activities. Having lived in Boston for awhile and worked for a speed dating company there, Hugh had an interesting perspective on how being a bachelor in Ireland is different from what it is in the US.

“Irish guys suffer from confidence issues,” he said. “They rely heavily on alcohol to get the gumption to talk to a girl and they’re heavily influenced by their mothers.”

When I mentioned Dublin women’s number one complaint — that men don’t make the first move — Hugh argued that women need to be more approachable. I couldn’t help thinking how both sexes seem to be equally guilty of sending mixed signals, and being completely unaware of it.

Hugh says there’s more of a stigma associated with being single here. He’s noticing younger men becoming disillusioned with the dating scene and signing up for events more. Women remain most proactive, though, booking MysteryDates three months ahead while men usually book within a 48 hour window.

While waiting for speed dating to start, I grabbed a bite at the bar. A tall, forty something guy sat down beside me and introduced himself as Patrick.

“You’ll never guess why I’m here,” he said.

“Speed dating?” I said.

“Yes!”

Up next…more about my conversation with Patrick and the scoop on one of the best singles parties I’ve ever been to.

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August 21st, 2010 — 12:52pm

Wednesday, my girls night out in Dublin continued with single gal Jen, 27.

Church Bar: Jen and I went to this unique venue, inside, yes, an old Dublin church

A Nova Scotia native, Jen moved to Dublin five years ago with her then-husband, whom she met when she was 18. Since their divorce two years ago, she’s been experiencing singlehood for the first time — and finding a big singles scene here.

“I’ve had pretty good success because of my accent,” she said. “You’re spoiled for choice because there are so many people from different backgrounds and nationalities. It’s a very young city.”

Because of that sizable twentysomething contingent, Dublin — much like New York — the dating pool offers much more choice for that age group than for women in their thirties. While Jen raved about the active pub and nightclub scene, though, she admitted it has gotten tiresome.

“Everything revolves around drinking here,” she said. “It’s hard to know if someone’s genuine and that’s why I took to online dating. I want to find a real relationship.”

Girls Night Out: Jen, me and Claudine

For France-born single gal Claudine, 33, who joined me and Jen later in the evening, a serious relationship is the last thing she’s looking for.

“Being in a couple is not for me,” she said. “And it’s better to be single in Dublin than back home because I don’t have to justify anything to family and friends. I can do what I want.”

Like Jen, Claudine moved to Dublin for a relationship that didn’t work out. They were together for three years — and split up four months after moving here.

“It was the worst six months of my life after we broke up,” she admits. “Then I realized, I changed for him. Only when I was without him did I realize I was not myself.”

Claudine now prefers casual romances only, finding that desire is more rewarding than love. Though Jen feels the opposite, both of these amazing women are thankful for the lessons that came out of being heartbroken.

“My bad experience allowed me to see who I really was,” she said. When my ex and I met, I was a tiny kitten put in a cage. When it ended, I was a tiger.”

“I’m so much stronger now, after two years of being single,” says Jen. “Than I was when I was married.”

Still, for as much as they’ve learned here in Dublin, both Jen and Claudine say they’ll eventually go home. On either side of the Atlantic, single or not, that’s really the place to be.

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August 20th, 2010 — 1:27pm

Wednesday night, my action-packed evening of conversation about dating in Dublin began with local single gal Ellie, 37.  

Single Gals In Dublin: Ellie and me

Over coffee at Carluccio’s, a casual bistro on Dawson Street, Ellie confirmed what I’d already heard about dating here — that it revolves around the pub scene and guys rarely make the first move unless they’ve had a lot to drink first.

“They’ll wait until the end of the night, and then they’re literally leaping on top of you,” she said. “There’s no etiquette to it.”

If you’re a single woman in Dublin, expect to do most of the work when it comes to breaking the ice with a guy.

“That initial meeting is just a disaster,” she said. “Once you get past that, though, Irish men are very traditional.”

That traditional bent is largely because of how attached Dublin men are to their mothers, and to needing their approval of who they date. Two of Ellie’s friends had to wait until their boyfriend’s mothers were deceased to get married.

Married once for a few years, Ellie says dating post-divorce is especially difficult because divorce is still relatively new in Ireland (it’s only been legal here for 12 years).

“Because divorce is so rare, to get a man the second time around is rare,” she said.

Much like New York, the pool of available, good thirty something men in Dublin is a small one. Which is one reason Ellie has been proactive about trying new things — from a mobile dating app called Lovestruck to a hill walking group. Though she would like to meet someone special, she’s savoring what she calls the best part of being single.

“The freedom.”

Well said.

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