Category Archives: Africa

Where to Learn About the Irish in New York City

 

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Creative Commons Flickr photo / Ritchie S

 

Even being of full Irish heritage, as both a first- and third-generation Irish American, I’m embarrassed to say that I seem to forget to acknowledge St. Patrick’s Day. For shame! But in New York City, there are many reminders of the legacy of the Irish around me. Along with St. Patrick’s Day Parades and Irish pubs throughout its five boroughs, there are noted locations that can put you directly in touch with Irish culture and history – all the way up to the present day.

Here is my list of suggested places to learn more about the Irish in New York City. While most of these locations can be seen by the general public, it’s best to check their websites for hours of operation and ticket prices.

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Credit: NPS photo

Ellis Island
From 1892 to 1954, 12 million immigrants came through this immigration inspection station, arriving via boats. Did you know that the first passenger to be processed through Ellis Island was said to be Irish? Annie Moore, a young woman from County Cork, was that person was initially registered through. Part of the National Parks Service, visitors can head to Ellis Island on daily cruises and walk through its great hall that once had clerks interviewing and inspecting new arrivals. Make plans to spend time in its immigration museum and sign up in advance for a guided hardhat tour, offered through Save Ellis Island, of an area that once functioned as a hospital.

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Photo by Liz Clayman, courtesy of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum

Lower East Side Tenement Museum
This former tenement turned museum on Manhattan’s Lower East Side is a prime example of how immigrants such as the Irish settled in and built new lives in their new homeland. In fact, an Irish family once resided in this building, a former tenement at 97 Orchard Street that had housed nearly 7,000 working class immigrants. In 1869, the Moores came to live here. Their restored home inside this museum can be visited on guided tours. This tour, called “Irish Outsiders,” also delves into some of the hardships the Moore family faced. (Note: Ticketholders meet at the Visitors Center at 103 Orchard Street.)

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Credit: Merchant’s House Museum Facebook page

Merchant’s House Museum
As for finding work, the Irish took on various labor-intensive jobs, one of them being as household servants. Between what’s now the Bowery and Lafayette Street, the prominent Tredwell family owned this 19th well-preserved rowhouse on East 4th Street for nearly a century (the last member lived here until her death in 1933 at age 93). While the Tredwells are much discussed, their Irish servants also get attention. Most information known about these four female employees is from census records. However, it’s common knowledge that their hours were long and pay was low, but they definitely were instrumental in running a household. On St. Patrick’s Day 2017, the museum will host guided tours relating to these servants throughout the day, plus a candlelight version at night.

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Creative Commons Flickr photo / Ken Lund

Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral
Most people know about St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue in Midtown, but its older cousin is set in NoLita. On the corner of Mott and Prince streets, this minor basilica once surrounded an improved Irish neighborhood but now caters to a multicultural congregation. During the mid-1800s, at a time when Irish Catholics faced much backlash and bigotry, the church got an outer brick wall for protection after an attempted ransacking and the threat of being burnt down. The church’s history also states that young Irish lads from the neighborhood also provided security as a militia that would become New York’s 69th Regiment (also known as the Fighting Irish). The cathedral has underground mortuary vaults and a cemetery, featuring a who’s who of prominent Catholic New Yorkers from the 16th through 18th centuries. You’ve also may have seen the church in “The Godfather” and “The Godfather Part II” movies.

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Creative Commons Flickr photo / Ana Paula Hirama

Columbus Park
The surroundings of this public park in Chinatown were once adjacent to the Five Points, a rough neighborhood slum known for its portrayal in the film version of the book, “Gangs of New York.” Conditions were so bad here, that photographer/social reformer Jacob Riis made an entire chapter about the Five Points in his book, “How the “Other Half Lives.” At one point in its history, the Five Points had an Irish population that was referred to being the largest outside of Dublin. Other ethnicities that came to live here throughout the mid-to-late 19th century included African Americans, German Jews, and Italians (who would go on establish another neighborhood, Little Italy). In the early 20th century, the area around the Five Points was consumed by a growing Chinatown. The area got some new life too, with plans to replace tenements with trees and flowers within a park setting. A developed green space called Mulberry Bend Park (what Columbus Park was once called) opened in the summer of 1897. Columbus Park got its present-day name in 1911; it’s for Christopher Columbus.

Irish neighborhoods within Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx
Irish culture in NYC goes beyond Manhattan, as past and present communities developed. So definitely put extra money on your subway card for trekking to these areas in the outer boroughs. For starters, The Bronx section of Woodlawn, nicknamed “Little Ireland,” has a hearty Irish population, with pubs like Behan’s Pub and the expansive Van Cortland Park. Queens has Rockaway Park, Woodside, and Sunnyside, and Brooklyn’s got Bay Ridge, Windsor Terrace, and Gerritsen Beach, plus Vinegar Hill has a lengthy Irish history.

Sponsored Post: 5 Must-Do Drives in South Africa

One great way to see South Africa is behind the wheel of a car. Taking a scenic route at your own driving pace will give different views and perspectives of where you’re going and presently at. Here are five must-do driving routes in South Africa to take, especially in order to take in your surroundings.

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Creative Commons photo / Ajay Goel

1) The Garden Route

The Garden Route is often a recommended must-see stretch in South Africa, and for good reason. This beautiful coastal section of the N2 (a national route) runs from Heidelberg in the Southern Cape, to Storms River Village on the Eastern Cape border. It’s also known for its lush vegetation, mixture of topography and outdoor activity options. Stops along this way are equally noteworthy, particularly aligning seaside towns. Mossel Bay, which starts the Garden Route, is considered to be a major holiday destination. Knysna is well regarded for its Knysna Lagoon, based in the middle of two sandstone cliffs known as “the Knysna Heads.” Visit Garden Route National Park, which contains hiking routes and incorporates the Tsitsikamma and Wilderness national parks plus Knysna Forests.

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Creative Commons photo / Jeoren Looye

 2) Chapman’s Peak Drive

In being also all about scenery, this mountainside coastal route will not keep your eyes alert on the road, but also has pullout locations where it’s safe to head over on the side. Approximately nine kilometers (or 5.5 miles), the curvy Chapman’s Peak Drive starts from Hout Bay, a fishing harbor town, and does a windy trek to the village suburb of Noordhoek. As a modern engineering marvel, the drive’s construction started in 1915 and was completed in 1922. While driving along, consider keeping your windows down to hear the crash of the surfing wind beneath. And also note that it’s a toll road so keep some extra rand ready.

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Creative Commons photo / Rene C. Nielsen

3) The Panorama Route

In the province of Mpumalanga, the Panorama Route clearly lives up to its name with geological formations, green valleys, and mountain peaks, and links to historic towns. It coincides with Blyde River Canyon, said to be the third largest canyon in the world and situated in the Drakensberg escarpment region. Bourke’s Luck Potholes is a series of eroded bedrock formations at the conjunction of the Treur and Blyde rivers. The Three Rondavels, a trio of mountaintop peaks, are shaped like African grass huts. God’s Window is a spectacular panoramic viewpoint of plunging cliffs, where seeing over Kruger National Park is possible on a clear day. Towns along this route have their respective offerings. Graskop, a former mining town, is particularly noted for its eatery, Harrie’s Pancakes. Sabie is a forestry town with impressive pine plantations and cascading waterfalls. Pilgrim’s Rest relives its gold mining boom via museums.

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Creative Commons photo / Brian Snelson

4) Swartberg Pass

Heading over this east-west pass through the Swartberg mountain range is a once in a lifetime drive. Running between the plains of the Great Karoo and valleys of the Little Karoo, the Swartberg Pass is a gravel route that takes drivers through this semi-arid area, linking the towns of Oudtshoorn (in the south) and Prince Albert (in the north) together. The rock-centered ride may seem a little nerve wrecking, due to its hairpin bends and narrow sections, but take the journey carefully – and enjoy the geology. Be sure to notice vegetation such as aloe plants, dry stone retaining walls, and vertical cliff faces such as the Wall of Fire.

5) The Friendly N6 Route

This amicably named national motorway connects the Free State and Eastern Cape and reflects what you’ll find along the journey. Running between East London and Bloemfonten, the Friendly N6 Route passes by farmlands, outdoor wonders, and small inland towns. With the latter, Stutterheim has become a magnet for nature lovers, primarily due to its forestry areas. It’s the same with Lady Grey, which has good ops for hiking and fishing. Smithfield appears to carry more of a hospital feel, with a mixture of lodging ranging from B&Bs to self-catering homes, and an artsy side, with various galleries and cafes/restaurants.

Now let’s get going. To rent a car with Around about Cars and explore this incredible region of South Africa click here: Car Rental South Africa.

Magical Kenya: New Campaign for Kenyan Tourism Board

_DSC1033When asked by Kenya Tourism Board about what they like most about the country, visitors’ answers include the people, the wildlife and the scenery. In fact, Kenya is considered to be the “safari epicenter of the world,” where the “Big Five” (a former hunting term for a group of animals including lion, elephant, rhino, buffalo and leopard) can be seen.

During a New York City luncheon held by Kenya Tourism, representatives greeted guests with a warm Jumbo (hello) and spoke about their recently launched campaign, “Magical Kenya.” The campaign is not just important in terms of attracting visitors but also to help to maintain tourism levels after recent events impacting Kenya.

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Phyllis Jeplosgei Kandie, cabinet secretary for Ministry of East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism, spoke of the challenges that Kenya faced last year such as the attack by gunmen at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi last September and the conflicts happening in neighboring Somalia.

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A number of measures are being taken to change this public notion that Kenya is unsafe, said Jeplosgei Kandie, and “that is what we are fighting.”

“There are good stories found in Kenya,” she added.

In increasing security levels in Kenya, there are many new initiatives being introduced through the current fiscal budget. They include increasing new police recruits by 7,000, bringing protection of Kenya wildlife under police departments, and establishing special 24-hour operation units in towns. Another big change is in bringing in community police to encourage locals to give information on anything suspicious.

By nature, Jeplosgei Kandie explained that Kenyans are friendly people who want to help visitors. Yet she also acknowledged that, too, there can be a need to “have to look at ourselves and say that not everyone that comes to us means well.”

With marketing, Kenya Tourism Board recently launched #whyiloveKenya, a virtual campaign to encourage visitors to share their experiences. The campaign centers on promoting what people love most about this East African country.

Kenya has also earned accolades through last year’s World Travel Awards, being given the title of “World’s Leading Safari Destination.” CNN Travel  named Kenya’s Watamu and Diani beaches as the second and third Best Beaches in Africa for 2013. Further good news, particularly for visitors to East African, happened this past February with the launch of the East African Joint Tourist Visa, a single visa to Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.

Learn more about Kenya Tourism Board through www.magicalkenya.com.

Editor’s Note: Top image provided by Kenya Tourism Board