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Monday, December 31st 2012

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On today's Mooney,

Travel writer Philip Nolan has advice on holiday destinations for the coming year, we’ll hear about the new series of Mrs. Brown’s Boys and we’re looking for contestants to play our new table topics game – if you think you can talk for 90 seconds on any subject, then give us a call, from 3pm, on 1850 715 900 or e-mail any time to mooney@rte.ie!

Success Of Mrs. Brown's Boys

Yet again, Mrs. Brown's Boys trounced all rivals in the Christmas ratings, both on RTÉ 1 and BBC 1. Rory Cowan, aka Rory from Mrs. Brown's Boys, joins Derek in studio today to chat about an extraordinary year for the cast and show! And if you'd like to catch Derek's starring guest turn in the show, tune in to BBC 1 tomorrow evening at 9.30pm.

The Night My Father Was Conceived

In this documentary, film director Paddy Breathnach (I Went Down, Man About Dog) explores the impact his grandfather’s death had on his father Diarmuid. As well as being a civil servant, rambling Irish teacher, balladeer, actor, journalist, drinker and British army deserter, Diarmuid’s father lived a life of contradictions which saw him fight in the 1st world war, war of independence and civil war. He died when Diarmuid was eight and Paddy asks if his father documented the world so carefully as an archivist and librarian because he lost so much as a child. It will be broadcast on TG4, on New Year's Day, at 9.05pm. For more information, click here.

Table Topics

You might remember, last month, we had some Irish ‘Toastmasters’ in studio. Toastmasters is, of course, a global organisation who help people with their public speaking.

And we invited them in because we heard one of their members, Mairead Murphy, was just about to take part in the UK and Ireland ‘Table Topics’ Final in Cork. And she explained that ‘Table Topics’ is a competition where you have to speak about a subject for a certain amount of time – just over 2 minutes – but you only find out the subject 5 or 10 seconds before you have to start speaking! We had our own Table Topics in studio, and we had such a huge reaction that we're doing it all again!

Everyone who takes part in ‘Table Topics’ will get two tickets to “FOR THE LOVE OF MRS BROWN” in Dublin’s O2 on Friday December 13th 2013, and our winner today will also get two tickets to Mrs Brown in the O2 but, on top of that, they will win an overnight stay for two people sharing one room in the Radisson Blu Hotel on Golden Lane in Dublin, just off Georges Street. Our guest judge today is comedian and broadcaster Abie Philbin Bowman...

Jim Wilson's Guide To Garden Birds

To find out more about how to identify and care for the birds that visit your garden, click here to read Jim Wilson's Guide To Garden Birds.

Top Holiday Destinations For 2013

Christmas has come and gone, it’s a bit cold and dreary outside, and we all want something lovely to look forward to.  So what better time to start dreaming and planning the perfect holiday for next year? Now whether your preference is for a staycation or safari, a city break or a week in the sun, there are a whole range of different options, in different price ranges, to choose from. So what are the top holiday destinations for 2013?  Philip Nolan is an award-winning travel journalist and he has a few suggestions...


  • Moonbows are a rare natural phenomenon.  Moonbows (also known as lunar rainbows) are rainbows produced by light reflected off the surface of the moon rather than from direct sunlight. Optimal conditions on just a few nights a year in a very small number of locations worldwide mean the moonlight is strong enough to make rainbows in waterfalls. When you see a rainbow with the naked eye, it appears white, and it’s only when you take a photo using time-lapse that the colours appear in the photo
  • I was in Yosemite National Park in 2007 to see moonbows – the dates there next year are May 25 and June 22. Aer Lingus/JetBlue has return flights from around €800.
  • Is it possible to see moonbows at home? In Europe? Elsewhere in the world?

Now as we know between the Euro 2012 Football Championships and the Olympics, sports fans had their pick of sporting trips last year.  What’s on the agenda for 2013?

  • There’s very little happening in sport this year as it is an ‘odd’ year – the big events only happen in ‘even’ years.  There are no European Soccer Championships, World Cup or Olympics next year, but the British and Irish Lions rugby tour of Australia runs in June and July.
  • The test matches against Australia take place in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney and package prices start from a fairly hefty €3,000, including flights, transfers and seven nights accommodation.
  • Any cheaper sporting options? – The British Grand Prix would be one alternative that would be a cheaper, although even that could run to €600 for a day, as the tickets to the race itself are so expensive!

Over the last few months, cruises have been in the news for all the wrong reasons, but you would recommend that everyone should try a cruise at least once?

  • One of the things I’m asked about most frequently is: Would I enjoy a cruise holiday? I always recommend that people try a sampler. In May, Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas is sailing two-night cruises from Southampton to Le Havre (for Paris), from €244 cruise only. Flights to Southampton with Flybe from around €120. Or take the car. Southampton departures are great for people who are scared of flying. Cruise holidays still are a growing market.

Now one country Derek has been to many timesber is Iceland, and it’s one of your top picks for 2013 too…

  • This is an extraordinary country that everyone should see. Wallace Travel is the specialist and is running three charters this year – at Easter, the October Bank Holiday Weekend and during the autumn mid-term break. Prices are €589 per person B&B in the four-star Reykjavik Natura Hotel + €59 tax for four nights and €499 + €59 tax for three nights. Details on www.wtg.ie.
  • What are your highlights of Iceland?  What is there to see outside of the capital Reyjavik?

But if you want more warm sunshine than Iceland has to offer, then you would suggest Florida…

  • This is still one of our favourite destinations, despite the recession. If you can go in January, Tour America has seven-night packages for €459 including flights and accommodation based on two adults and two children sharing.
  • Earlier this year, I stayed at the Sonesta Suites on International Drive. Very central accommodation close to one of the trolleybus stops and lots of restaurants and shops. A one-bed family suite costs €98 a night in June at today’s exchange rate.  

And the Middle East is becoming a hugely popular destination for Irish travellers…

  • There are 17 flights a week – that’s around 4000 seats – on planes leaving Dublin for the Emirates.  A lot of that is because the Middle East is now a popular stopover hub for long-haul flights – people are opting to fly via the likes of Dubai rather than choosing a European hub – but also, there are a lot of people choosing to base their holiday in the UAE, Oman etc…

Now a lot of these holiday options are would all be amazing experiences, but might be a little pricey for some people – if you want to see a new country, but you don’t have a lot of ready cash, what’s the best value break you can take next year?

  • Poland is one of my favourite European countries, with great cities such as Krakow, Poznan and Gdansk. Very cheap, too, with good hotels from around €50 a night, a meal for two with wine for about €30 and beer at €1.60 a pint. Four-star hotels are around €50-€60 a night. Ryanair flies direct to Gdansk from Dublin for around €111 return in May.

And next year also sees the Gathering, when Irish emigrants are being encouraged to return home to Ireland.  So for those of us who want to holiday at home next year, what events are happening in Ireland and what are the best deals?

  • We tend to think of the coasts when we plan a short break in Ireland in summer but why not try a lakeside location instead? A week in a three-bed house that sleeps six, in Waterside Cottages in Dromineer, Co. Tipperary, on the Shannon is just €400 in June. Spectacular drives around Lough Derg, great pubs and restaurants in the likes of Ballina, Killaloe and Garrykennedy and superb scenery, especially at the Lookout near Portroe. 

And however much it’s needed, taking a holiday if you have kids can be particularly pricey.  What are the best value family holidays that can be found?

Finally, if all you want is just a nice, stress-free week or two on a beach somewhere, what are the best value summer sun packages?

K Club Wedding Competition

About 22,000 couples get married in Ireland every year – and here on Mooney we’re going to make 2013 lucky for some with a fantastic wedding competition we’re going to be running in January in conjunction with the RTÉ Guide and The K Club! To find out more, tune in, and get a copy of the RTÉ Guide, on January 14th!

The Island Landscape

RTÉ Television, in association with Mooney, is currently producing a major new documentary series on the history of the Irish landscape. The series will tell the story of how our landscape was created after the last major climatic event – the end of the last Ice Age, over ten thousand years ago.  And we want your help! Would you like to contribute video towards the TV series? Click here to find out what we're looking for!

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