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Escape Dublin For A Weekend Trip To Kilkea Castle

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Once upon a time, or, more accurately, about six years ago, American real estate developers, Jay and Christy Cashman, did something most Americans only dream of: They bought a castle. A real, medieval castle, in County Kildare, Ireland, just over an hour’s drive from Dublin’s city center. 35 million dollars worth of renovations later, the castle, which dates back to 1180, reopened as a luxury lodge and golf resort, with over 180-acres of recreational space surrounding the ancient stone building. A new spa, wellness center and pool, as well as new chef are all expected in the near future, but the castle, which has nightly rates competitive with four and five star hotels in Dublin City, is easy to access from Ireland’s capital, and full of diversions for a short excursion outside of  the city.

Getting there:

The Kilkea van is available for pre-booked pickups. The chauffeured ride costs €90 one way or €180 per trip to Dublin, either the city or the airport. Parking is also available on-site for independent drivers.

A guest bedroom in Kilkea Castle

Kilkea Castle

What to do: 

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The castle itself houses three restaurants, including 1180 a fine dining-style restaurant with a prix-fixe dinner and full Irish breakfast, as well as a pub, The Keep. Those interested in getting off-site can head a mile down the drive to the century’s-old Mooney Pub, which has hosted a slew of celebrities in recent times.

On site, guests can cozy up near the fire in the grand salon, and in better weather, play a match on the tennis courts, practice archery, go fishing, skeet shooting, horseback riding and of course, golf. In warmer weather, guests can take advantage of the current in the river winding around the castle for tubing or schedule a boat tour on the nearby waterways.

The Keep at Kilkea Castle

Kilkea Castle

Spending a weekend relaxing on the castle grounds may be sufficient for travelers eager for a respite from the city (the castle is also WiFi and cable equipped…), though plenty of attractions are also within a short drive of Kilkea. Nearby, Walsh Whiskey Distillery offers behind-the-scenes distillery tours and tastings of their signature products, Writers’ Tears and The Irishman; and The Irish National Stud allows visitors to engage in immersive equestrian experiences as well as walk through the adjoining Japanese gardens. Those interested in history can also visit nearby Castletown House, a restored Palladian property dating back to the 1720s, and Burtown House and Gardens, a villa also dating back to the early 1700s (and was passed down through the family’s female lineage), which now has a barn cafe with a locally sourced menu on-site.

For Americans abroad, staying in a castle comes with a novelty that’s certainly indulged by Kilkea’s history, and with the new renovation and modern amenities (an elevator! heat!) , the property is comfortable and easily accessible to Medieval castle newbies.

Kilkea Castle Rooms start at €291 per night in the early to midweek and €323 per night on the weekend. The adjacent Kilkea Carriage Rooms start at €154 per night for early and mid-week and €191 per night on the weekend. Specials, including a 25% discount through March 2019, are often posted online

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FG promises seamless passport for Nigerians

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The Minister of Interior, Dr. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, has reiterated the commitment of the Nigerian government towards delivering a seamless and efficient passport for Nigerians, both within the country and in the Diaspora.

Speaking at the inaugural Diaspora Webinar Lecture Series of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) entitled: “New Passport Policy/Processes for Nigerians in the Diaspora,” Tunji-Ojo said that was the directive from President Bola Tinubu to him and other cabinet members towards attainment of the Renewed Hope Agenda.

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The minisiter, who emphasised the importance of providing top-notch services befitting Nigeria’s stature as the giant of Africa, stated that: “Effective from March 8, 2024 Nigerians will benefit from a contactless passport application process, reducing the time required to complete the entire process to a maximum of seven to 10 minutes.

“This monumental reform is part of the overarching efforts to modernise the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) and enhance service delivery to citizens,” he added.

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Highlighting the achievements and reforms within the ministry and its parastatals, particularly the NIS, the minister underscored the clearance of over 200,000 passport backlogs within three weeks of his assumption of office and the deployment of E-Gates at international airports to streamline entry and exit processes.

He also outlined plans for the installation of a modern control centre across international airports in Abuja and Lagos, aimed at enhancing immigration officers’ capacity and providing Nigerians with a seamless travel experience.

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Tunji-Ojo stressed on the importance of leveraging on technology to simplify passport acquisition, stating that Nigerians would only need their National Identification Number (NIN) for passport applications and bio metrics.

“Through an automated system, data will be pulled from the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) database to fill application forms, reducing the risk of identity fraud and ensuring a single point of contact for citizens,” he said.

The minister added that plans are underway to automate the passport enrollment process, enabling online application, biometric capture, and home delivery of passports, thus eliminating the need for physical visits to passport offices.

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Whole addressing concerns raised by participants from various continents regarding current challenges in passport application and delivery processes, he assured of the government’s commitment to resolving these issues as soon as possible.

The former lawmaker urged Nigerians to take pride in acquiring their passports, as the new process heralds a new era of hope and progress for the nation and its diaspora community, adding that the ministry woule partner with NIDCOM.

Earlier, the NIDCOM Chairman/CEO, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, commended the minister’s efforts, highlighting the significance of the Diaspora Lecture Series in keeping Nigerians abroad informed about programmes and reforms of President Tinubu’s administration.

In her presentation, the Comptroller General, NIS, Caroline Wura-Ola Adepoju, emphasised that the new process would significantly reduce human interaction, thereby eliminating inconveniences associated with passport applications and saving time for both applicants and immigration personnel.

Adepoju said the service had produced 1,033,506 million passports in 2021; another 1,597,729 million in 2022; while a record of over 2,141,300 million were produced amidst various challenge in 2023.

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She, however, said that many Nigerians did not come forward to pick up their passports at various centres she visited recently both within and outside Nigeria, promising that from March, there will be positive improvement in passport production without going through any stress or interventions.

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NGO Warns Nigerians Planning To Japa, Says People Dying Sleeping On Streets, Housing Too Expensive

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A Nigerian, Vivian Etuka, residing in Canada, has cautioned individuals considering migration to Canada to avoid the Ontario province.

She said many Nigerians who lacked proper research and information ended up on the streets upon their arrival in Canada.

Etuka, who is the Founder and CEO of Bethel Outreach Community Services spoke in Abuja on Thursday, January 18, when she met with the Chairman and CEO of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM).

She explained that lots of Nigerians end up in refugee camps as a result of not following the proper channels.
She advised those considering migration to Canada to steer clear of the Ontario province, citing its overpopulation and high cost of living.

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Emphasizing that settling down is easier for those with direct job opportunities, she also highlighted the scarcity of housing in Ontario, with many Nigerians reportedly sleeping outdoors in the cold.

Etuka, who is involved in caring for refugees in Canada, stressed the importance of being certain about arrangements before making the move.

She said: “I’m not putting fear on anybody. I’m saying there are right and wrong ways to move to any country. When you’re coming to any country, please make sure you do your research. And make sure you go to like if you’re coming to Canada I speak on Canada because that’s my home. Go to other provinces that are less populated. I’ll tell you again to stay away from Ontario.

Adnair “Housing is extremely expensive. I have four days ago, two immigrants that are sleeping outside passed away.
“With extreme -25 degrees, it is not good for anyone to be sleeping outside.

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“So if you’re coming to Canada and do it the right way, there are right ways to do things online how to migrate to Canada with a job you can look for a job that types LMIA jobs that can employ you before you get to Canada.

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“Don’t come to Canada and let agents deceive you that as soon as you get off the plane there are jobs. If there are jobs ready, what about Canadians out on the street?

“Don’t you think they want to work? So that should let you know what’s wrong.
“Nobody’s going to hand you a job from the airport. You’re going to have to work out to look for the jobs, and housing, you’re sharing the room with somebody paying $1,200 a month and some landlords are requesting for a whole year before you can move in.

“We have young men and women that are Nigerian sleeping on the street. I have 23 of them in a church downtown that has no washroom and they are dependent on people like me for food, clothing, and looking for jobs.

“We are helping them advocate with the government. And I implore you please do come to Canada, it is a beautiful place but come the right way. So we are not burdened trying to help you settle you and everything. It’s difficult. Immigration is expensive, is very difficult. So do it the right way and enjoy the same Canada that I enjoy.”

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FULL LIST: 45 visa-free countries Nigerian passport can travel to in 2024

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The Henley Passport Index has listed the most powerful passports in the world on Thursday.

HPI is a global passport-ranking website with an original, authoritative ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa.

Their index is often based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) – the largest, most accurate travel information database – and enhanced by Henley & Partners’ research team.

The passport ranking website listed Nigeria as 95th out of the 104 countries with the most powerful passports.

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Nigeria sits behind Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Morroco, Benin Republic and Namibia which are at number 76th, 83rd, 67th, 65th, 71st, 79th and 65th respectively.

The index also said Nigerians now have about 45 visa-free countries enabled with their passports.

See the full list below:

1. Barbados
2. Benin
3. Burkina Faso
4. Burundi
5. Cambodia
6. Cameroon
7. Cape Verde Islands
8. Chad
9. Comoro Islands
10. Cook Islands
11. Cote d’Ivoire
12. Djibouti
13. Dominican Republic
14. Fiji
15. Ghana
16. Guinea
17. Guinea-Bissau
18. Haiti
19. Iran
20. Kenya
21. Kiribati
22. Lebanon
23. Liberia
24. Madagascar
25. Maldives
26. Mali
27. Mauritiana
28. Mauritius
29. Micronesia
30. Montserrat
31. Mozambique
32. Niger
33. Niue
34. Palau Islands
35. Rwanda
36. Samoa
37. Senegal
38. Sierra Leone
39. Somalia
40. St. Kitts and Nevis
41. The Gambia
42. Timor-Leste
43. Togo
44. Tuvalu
45. Vanuatu

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