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Ireland

It's time to get your sesh cap on.

The bar of the year 2018 has been revealed and we can't wait to give it a try.

Cork is not only Ed Sheeran's favourite place to gig, but now it's home to the best bar in the country.

Cask Cocktail bar in the city was crowned champ, beating out some stiff competition. 

Last night, the bar claimed the top prize as judges assembled in the Clayton Hotel Burlington Road to announce all the winners.

For months, a panel have been on an epic nationwide pub crawl, grading and rating bars and pubs in a number of areas – and they seem to be impressed with this year's standard.

Despite the amount of great places, there could only be one winner.

One judge, Rafael Agapito gave Shemazing all the details and it was sickeningly close.

"Picking the winner was definitely the toughest part, the standard has improved so much, we had to return to some venues for re-evaluation.

I can’t disclose the runner up, but it was a matter of one mere point." 

Ah here lads, that's just too close!

That being said, Cask is a worthy winner.

The hospitality consultant said since the bar has opened, they have been "stacking up awards."

"Their talented team led by Andy Ferreira is always innovating and pushing boundaries. What impresses me the most is the attention they give to non alcoholic creations," Rafael said.

Since the bar is renowned for their cocktails, we asked Rafael what cocktail we should try out.

His reply was the Fine and Dandy – and it looks like perfection in a glass. 

Now if cocktails ain't your jam – don't worry.

The judges were marking establishments for a whole host of categories, which include the best bar for gin and craft beer.

For us gin lovers, this is a place you need to put on your list.

Photo credit: Gin Library

So who was the lucky winner, I hear you cry?! – it was the Gin Library at Galgorm Resort & Spa in Antrim that snatched Gin Bar of the Year.

"The library at Galgorm Resort has a great selection, and the bartenders are always at hand to help you pick the best suitable gin for your palate," said Rafael.

Take notes now, as the judge explained that quantity doesn't mean quality.

"When picking a category winner, we look for expertise rather than quantity. The bar with most gins on offer is not necessarily the best gin bar," he added. 

As for the best craft beer, a Galway bar sealed the deal and it's not hard to see why. 

From their Instagram alone, the newly opened bar, Caribou seems to have it sussed.

Commenting on the win, Rafael said:

"Caribou in Galway has also made the craft beer scene more inclusive and exciting, by offering a world class selection of beers in a fun and relaxed atmosphere."

 

Delighted #devitts #devittspub #dublinpubs #baroftheyear2018

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As for the best pub in the capital, Devitts on Camden Street claimed top dog for the scoops.

Now you have no excuse to venture out and try some seriously wonderful Irish pubs and bars.

It's only Tuesday, but we are already living for the weekend to try out these places – Sláinte!

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No matter what you hear, you do not owe iTunes money! Gardaí are warning the public of an ongoing iTunes scam.

There have been reports of scammers claiming to be an iTunes employee contacting people and requesting payment for money they claim is owed.

The scammers insist the victim buy an iTunes gift card as payment and ask for the 16 digit gift card number.

The anonymous cons recently tried to trick a business in Cork into sending them money. A request was made via email, sent by a person claiming to be the Manager of the company.

The message asked a staff member to purchase €2,000 of iTunes gift cards and send on the voucher numbers, but thankfully the employee contacted their Manager by phone to verify the request, suspicious of the sender's intent.

Gardaí say to be cautious of the ongoing scam and watch out for any phone calls, voicemails or emails from scammers claiming to be a representative of an organisation.

They may claim that you owe money and insist on immediate payment by a gift card. In some cases, victims are told they are facing criminal charges.

The scammer may know some information about you, so be sure not to trust them just because they use your name or have other personal details.

Detective Superintendent Healy warned: "We fear that this is an emerging scam and would urge people to be vigilant. The retailers of such cards should also be vigilant.

“Please remember, If you are NOT purchasing an item from the iTunes Store, App Store, iBooks Store, or an Apple Music membership, do not make a payment with iTunes Gift Cards.

“There's no other instance in which you'll be asked to make a payment with an iTunes Gift Card. If you fear you have been a victim of this scam or any other scam for that matter, please pick up the phone and call Gardaí”.

The iTunes gift card scam is just one of many that have recently surfaced in Ireland and the public is advised to continue to exercise extreme caution when answering phone calls.

Always say "NO” to unsolicited callers or texters seeking personal information about you, and never use the contact details supplied to you by the caller or texter.

Personal information includes your name, address, date of birth, family details, bank account numbers, PIN, Passwords.

If you think you are being scammed, call your local garda station immediately.

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It's only mid-week but we can't prevent ourselves from already thinking about the weekend…

Considering how popular some brunch places are at the moment, it's probably a good time to book a table for you and your friends.

For those of you wondering where to go for a delicious (and probably very Instagrammable) meal, we picked some of our favourite places around Ireland that never fail to impress with their IG account. 

Ali’s Kitchen, Cork

 

Vanilla custard & Raspberry! #doughnuts #classic #therealdeal #madeinAK #madeincork #akcork #bunnage #bunlove

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Brick Lane, Cork

3FE, Dublin 2

Five Points, Dublin 6W

Slice, Dublin 7

 

French toast and scrambles all morning loooong!! #breakfast #SLICEfood #stoneybatter #frenchtoastfriday

A post shared by SLICE (@slicedublin7) on

Two Boys Brew, Dublin 7

Meet me in the morning, Dublin 8

 

This week we are making beetroot flatbreads for our Splitpea Pea and Chickpea Falafel plate #meetmeinthemorning

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Dela, Galway

Tribeton, Galway

Cafe Rua, Mayo

 

Morning muffins . . #caferua #newantrimstreet #friday #muffins #saywhat #apple #walnut #dozen #castlebar #mwah

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Knox, Sligo

Pudding Row, Sligo

Featured image: Instagram @twoboysbrew 

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Our favourite ginger, Ed Sheeran sat down with Dermot O'Leary to talk all things Éire. 

Naturally, things took a personal route and Dermot quizzed Ed about his most-loved things to do in Ireland.

That includes his favourite city on his recent tour, his number-one place to visit and all the gigs he has done around the country before he hit superstar status.

 

Cork night #1 ! @zakarywalters

A post shared by Ed Sheeran (@teddysphotos) on

Now, before you take your guesses: Dublin-folk take a seat.

The Galway Girl singer said the wanna-be capital, Cork was his number one fav stop on his tour around Ireland.

Although, Dublin has a special place in his heart as he's gigged in Whelan's, Vicar street and the Olympia.

 

Dublin night #2 !

A post shared by Ed Sheeran (@teddysphotos) on

When asked what was the difference between Belfast, Dublin and Galway crowds on his tour, Ed's answer was way too relatable for any Irish person.

Poor Belfast was washed out of it when it came time for the 27-year-old to take to the stage.

Therefore, the crowds' enthusiasm had been well dampened, according to the singer. 

Ed confessed to Dermot that he has more of a connection to an Irish crowd than a Scottish – ah, bless.

Don't get too big headed though, this is due to the influence of Irish music and taking about five annual trips growing up, to our beautiful country. 

Adding sweetly in the intimidate Q and A, Ed said the guy who made him want to write music was Irish.

Now getting to the proper juicy part, Ed's favourite place in the Emerald Island is….Dingle Bay.

Honestly, we cannot even blame him. 

Situated in Kerry, it marks one of the westernmost points of mainland Ireland, and it's breathtaking. 

Unsurprisingly, the bay is a usual hot-spot with tourists too.

However, Ed advised anyone wanting to live in Ireland to move to Wexford.

It seems like the singer is always true to his roots – and we love him for it.

Ed and Dermot's chat was a part of Ireland.com's tourism project.

So sit back, enjoy the natter and the incredibly beautiful Irish spots featured throughout the video, which is bound to give you the travel bug.

  

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Condé Nast Traveler crowned Cork as the third friendliest city in the world and I couldn’t be happier.

Cork is one of my favourite places on the planet. It’s no New York or Paris, but the city has a certain charm about it that never fails to lift my spirits.

They described Cork as a “picturesque and intimate” spot that you just have to visit, and I couldn’t agree more.

Pop the rebel city down on your ‘places to visit’ list because you’ll have an absolute blast there, I promise you.

Here are five things you must to next time you’re in Cork.

1: Treat yourself to coffee at The Bookshelf Coffee House:

There are tons of independent coffee shops in the rebel city, but The Bookshelf Coffee House is one of the best. I love coffee just as much as Lorelai Gilmore, so finding the perfect spot is usually at the top of my to-do list when I’m exploring somewhere new. Grab a flat white and one of their delicious red croissants before embarking on a day of wandering.

2: Visit St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral:

Located in the city centre, St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral is a breathtaking spot that is often flooded with tourists. The huge cathedral is impossible to miss whilst strolling around the city streets. Spare a few minutes to check out the gothic cathedral. The striking stain glass windows and high ceilings make it one of the cities most beautiful features.

 

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3: The English Market:

Going to The English Market when you’re in Cork is a must. If it’s good enough for Queen Elizabeth, then it’s good enough for you. The buzz of the market is so enticing and the never-ending array of food on offer will leave you drooling like a baby. The English Market has a special kind of charm that will leave you itching to go back.

 

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4: Brunch at Liberty Grill:

My friend introduced me to Liberty Grill when I was visiting Cork earlier this year and I’ve been thinking about their food ever since. The place is one of the cities most popular brunch spots with people queing out the door and down the street just to get a taste of their delicious food. They offer an all-day brunch menu, which features the greatest french toast. They even source their grub from the English Market.  Locals supporting locals- power to them.

 

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5: A day trip to Blarney:

I couldn’t gush about my beloved Cork without mentioning the place where my family are from. Blarney is a quaint little village just outside of Cork City. The peaceful spot is full of history and character and is one of the go-to places for tourists. Follow in the footsteps of Mick Jagger and kiss the Blarney Stone and gain the gift of eloquence. Pop by the magnificent Blarney Castle and breathe in the history and wander around the stunning gardens. If you’re feeling exhausted after your adventures then pop into the traditional Irish bar the Muskerry Arms for a well deserved pint.

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The number of homeless children at risk has soared according to reports at State chhild-protection watchdog Tulsa. 

This is due to concerns for their welfare and safety.

This comes in the aftermath of a family of five having to sleep in a Garda station for the night when there was no emergency shelter available to them. 

According to The Irish Times, the issue with homeless families having to sleep rough in cars has worsened in recent times.

In correspondence on April 30th from Focus chief executive Pat Dennigan to Minster Zappone, he said that the situation “has deteriorated over the last few weeks”. 

In April, 32 families were left with no choice but to approach Garda stations, as no emergency accommodation beds were available.

“Of these, 12 families (20 children) reported to us the following day they had slept rough, mostly in cars,” Mr Dennigan told Ms Zappone.

Mr Dennigan has explained that he may publish the actual numbers of families that had to report to Garda stations at night each month on their website.

“Our board has repeatedly expressed grave concern for the families in this position and also that our services are being caught in an unacceptable position by the failure of the wider system,” he said.

This is a crisis that looks like it isn't going to be solved any time soon.

Figures emerging from the Department of Housing show a recorded 9,872 people as homeless in June 2018, 3,824 of whom were children.

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If this study is anything to go by, we seriously need to have a long, hard look at the issue of consent in Ireland.

Shockingly, an NUI Galway study found that the majority of third-level students do not think 28 standard drinks makes a person too intoxicated to give sexual consent. 

The researchers gave 753 online participates two different scenarios which involved drink and being able to give consent to do the deed. 

So here's how the survey worked:

The online respondents were given the same story of two students of Neil and Carol.

They go home together after a night out on the town to celebrate exam results.

However, those who completed the survey were split into two groups: one was given a "moderate" drinking level and the other was a "heavy" drinking consumption.

For clarity's sake as our opinion will majorly vary on what "moderate" and "heavy" consumption of alcohol is –  we will called in the experts.

Drinkaware.ie states that 28 standard units adds up to around 12 pints of beer at four percent alcohol or 700ml of spirits at 40 percent.

Carol and Neil's story starts off with them bumping into each other at a night club where they're both celebrating exam results from their college course.

"By midnight Neil had had the equivalent of about 5 (10) pints of beer, when he bumped into Carol, also 21, who is in one of his classes at college. She had also been out celebrating with her friends since the early afternoon.

“She had been drinking vodka (the equivalent of 4 pints (8 pints) of beer altogether). They started talking at the bar. Neil bought Carol a drink."

It continues with Neil knowing that Carol lives in the same student accommodation, so offers to share a taxi with Carol at the end of the night.

In the club, things begin to heat-up between the pair.

"Neil started kissing Carol and touching her. She moved his hands lower on her body."

The story finished with: “They took a break and had one more drink (three rounds of drinks) before the nightclub ended. In the taxi on the way home at 3 am Carol closed her eyes and dozed off for a few minutes. When they got to Carol’s apartment, Neil woke Carol up and they went into his flat. He made her tea and put on some music. They were having a good time laughing and joking together.

“He took out a bottle of whiskey and they each had one shot (a few generous shots). Both at this stage were a bit unsteady (and slurring their words), they talked for another while and shared a bottle of Coke (Neil spilled the tea all over the table and Carol nearly fell off her chair getting up to go to the bathroom). Then they went to his couch and started kissing again.

“Soon they had each removed their clothes. Through his actions, Neil made it clear he wanted to have sex with Carol. She asked him to put on a condom first. He did so and they had sex,” it concluded.

The results have somewhat floored us.

Twenty percent of respondents in the moderate drinking group "agreed" or "strongly agreed" that Carol was too drunk to give her consent to sex, while 14 percent thought Neil was too drunk to give his.

In comparison, to the heavy drinking participates, 33 percent thought Carol was too drunk and 30 percent thought Neil was too.

Furthermore, in their evaluation of the results, the report said: “Even when 28 standard drinks were consumed, 67 percent of students did not agree that Carol was too drunk to give consent, and 70 percent of students did not see Neil as unable to give consent.”

The study also highlighted that student's opinions, more often than not, didn't differentiate between "moderate" and "heavy" in alcohol intake, despite the stories varying. 

"These findings suggest that it is urgent to achieve enhanced awareness among young adults in college of the impact of drinking on the capacity to give consent," said the report.

Dr Pádraig MacNeela at NUI Galway said in relation to the results:

“The survey findings show that the social environment in which consent takes place among college students is often unsupportive – most women experience harassment, a large majority of all students are dissatisfied with their sexual health education at school, and social norms for drinking minimise the true impact of alcohol on the capacity to give consent.”

The study was conducted as part of a SMART consent research report which is run in NUI Galway

If you want more information surrounding the work they do and consent, please click here.

The report was published on Tuesday by Minister of State for Education and Skills, Mary Mitchell O’Connor.

Sexual consent has been a hot topic in Ireland over the last year and this study has given us a lot to mull over.

It's crucial that you arm yourself with the right information surrounding what is consensual and what isn't.

Remember: Safe, protected and consensual sex is always the sexiest. 

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The hosepipe ban just got serious. A warning has been issued regarding the water supply in greater Dublin area.

Irish Water has upped its attempt to conserve water as they caution usage.

“"We've about 70 days of usable water left,” said head of Irish Water, Jerry Grant.

That calculated number of days is in accordance with Dublin’s population of 1.6 million people.

Despite recent showers, there has been significantly less rainfall when compared to the previous three years.

According to Met Éireann, when averaged together, the last three years have seen 165 mm of rainfall recorded during the months of May, June, and July.

This year there was only 63.9 mm across the summer months, showing a significant water shortage problem.

"About the 10th or 12th of May, we had 150 days storage in Poulaphouca [Reservoir]. It's an enormous resource of water and it saves the city year in, year out.

“We used 80 days of that storage in 83 days. In other words, almost nothing was contributed to the storage in that period,” the head of Irish Water explained.

The hosepipe ban and water restrictions remain in place around the country.

It has also been reported that Ireland is the worst performer in western Europe for pipe leakage from water main pipes. It showed a measurement of 49% leakage across the country.

As a result, a leakage reduction project is underway in Hospital Co. Limerick.

The greater Dublin area has been urged to continue to conserve water as often as possible.

Check out these everyday steps one can take to save water around the house on Water.ie.

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Gin and tonic has been having a prolonged moment, but there is another up-and-coming drink angling for the top spot.

The Aperol Spritz is here to conquer summer, with everyone from Ireland's foodie influencers to the ladies who brunch enjoying a sip of the stuff. 

The drink has been around for years, but summer 2017 is set to be the season of the spritz, and we're ready for a change. 

 

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According to new Google Trend data, the Aperol Spritz is currently leading the way in the trendiness charts for Irish summer drinkers.

The drink is at peak popularity, just ahead of gin, and has seen a meteoric rise to fame, as did it's juniper-blended nemesis. 

The distinctive orange drink first became popular back in the 1950s after the aperitif was imported from Italy. 

Vogue has dubbed the drink as the one to watch this summer, but what is in the beverage exactly? 

Well, the distinctive drink is made up of three parts Prosecco, two parts Aperol and one part sparkling water.

The advised garnishings include orange wedges and green olives. 

The beverage has been enjoyed on the continent for years, with 200,000 gallons of the orange aperitif being consumed in France in 2015, according to World Crunch, so Ireland is slightly behind the times when it comes to the latest Aperol popularity surge, but hey, we've got all summer to catch up.

 Irish style influencer and Head of Digital, Global Retail at Dior, trend expert Ashley McDonnell is based in Paris, and knows exactly why the drink is so popular across the channel. 

'Everyone knows we love wine in France. In the winter it's hearty reds, in spring a chilled white, and summer is all about a glass of rosé by the Seine,' she explained to SHEmazing

 

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'However, over the last few years our Italian neighbours have been providing us with their own take on a cocktail that involves a good grape but in the form of the unmistakable orange cocktail: Aperol Spritz.' 

'The perfect marriage of Prosecco, soda, a slice of orange and Aperol to top it all off is taking over in Paris.'

'It’s quickly becoming the beverage of choice especially as the city heats up again, bringing some of the Italian Dolce Vita to the City of Lights, a much welcomed freshness to the long hot summer ahead,' she finished. 

Aperol Spritz at the So Prosecco pop-up at Taste of Dublin

The drink even made an appearance at So Prosecco at Taste of Dublin, where the city's finest eateries congregated to showcase their trendiest and tastiest wares last weekend. 

As Well + Good put it, it's about the 'desire to get buzzed—not blitzed,' and with a summer of outdoor brunching and beer garden get-togethers ahead, we couldn't be more ready for the season of spritz. 

Drinks anyone? 

Feature image: Instagram / solomia.mika

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Gin and tonic has become the go-to drink for practically half the country. The popular beverage has exploded in popularity over the past few years, and we’re not surprised.

As much as we love a G&T, we have to admit that we feel quite overwhelmed when we go to order one at the bar. What gin should I ask for? What type of tonic am I in the mood for? Will they add fruit? Or glitter?

We are spoiled for choice these days, but picking the perfect drink is tricky. Luckily, the Irish Gin and Tonic Fest is here to help.

They have just released Ireland’s best gin and tonic, which is bound to make your nights out that little bit easier.

This year’s festival ran across the 32 counties of Ireland with a total of 132 venues taking part and 16 GIN events throughout the country.

The 2018 edition featured 26 Irish gins that hail from every province in Ireland and are made with a huge variety of both farmed and wild Irish ingredients.

The festival asked the public to vote for their favorite #IrishGnT on Twitter and Instagram or by posting on the Great Irish Beverages Facebook page, and the results are in.

Ireland’s best gin & tonic in 2018 is…

Russell's Saloon & Gin Emporium, Dundalk, Co. Louth.

Bar manager of Russell’s, Jean McGuinness was thrilled with the result: “Everybody is so curious about Irish gin these days and they were excited to meet the distiller of our festival gin.”

“Our choice of using fresh pear with the blueberries went down a storm with our customers as they said the garnish really brought out the fruit in the gin and the bitterness in the Fever Tree tonic."

We love the sound of Russell’s pear and blueberry gin. We’ll certainly have to visit them this summer!

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They were set to play the All-Ireland qualifier against Cavan this Saturday.

Nevertheless, it seems that all is not well with the Mayo ladies football team. 

Reports have just emerged that there has been a mass walk out, with 10 players leaving the squad.

The Mayo News has said that the dispute was caused by welfare issues. 

The players who have walked include captain Sarah Tierney, vice-captain Fiona MacHale and Cora Staunton.

The team selector Michel MacHale – who is the father of Fiona MacHale – has also left the set-up.

The paper reports that the players informed manager Peter Leahy of their decision and then the county board.

Public Relations Officer Susan Rodgers confirmed that players had left the squad in the last week.

''Mayo Ladies County Board can confirm that a number of players have departed the county panel. Preparations are ongoing for Saturday’s All-Ireland Qualifier against Cavan and we will not be making any further comment until that game is over,'' she confirmed. 

Mayo would have been considered championship contenders going into this season after losing last year's All-Ireland final to Dublin.

Watch this space but it sure looks like the future of the Mayo ladies football team is on uncertain ground for the time being.  

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President Michael D Higgins has said in a statement that he will run for a second term in the Áras.

Previously, the figure head had said on the night of his election in 2011 that he would not seek another term in the position.

However, in recent years he has changed his mind and it was widely speculated that he would seek re-election.

Last autumn, the president said he would set out his intentions by September 2018, on seeking a second-term.

Nevertheless in recent weeks, he signalled that he would make his position known this month. 

A statement issued today stated:

“President Michael D. Higgins wishes to confirm that he will be offering himself as an independent candidate, under Article 12.4.4 of Bunreacht Na hÉireann, when the Ministerial Order for a Presidential Election is made later in the year.

“The Government has been informed of this decision.

“The President’s programme of official duties and engagements continues.”

Would you re-elect Michael D Higgins? 

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