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Dublin: 6 °C Saturday 19 January, 2019
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From Paris to Dublin: How one romantic gesture turned into a business opportunity

‘I wanted her to fall in love with her new home.’

WHEN DAMIEN KELLY’S girlfriend made the decision to relocate to Ireland from France in 2016, he made her a jar filled with 100 suggestions of things to do in his native country.

shutterstock_521241631 Source: Shutterstock/Burben

While Elodie had been to Ireland multiple times before, Damien was keen to make the transition as seamless as possible, and ultimately imbue her with the same love for Ireland he has.

“Elodie had obviously been to Dublin many times before moving here, but she really loved Paris,” Damien told DailyEdge.ie. “She was obviously a little sad to leave, so to make her fall in love with her new home, I made her a jar filled with 100 things to do in Ireland.

Over the next few months, we discovered so many places together and she got to see all of the great things Ireland has to offer. But, I also got to do lots of things I hadn’t even done before; the Bray to Greystones walk, Dublinia and the Templebar food market – things you take for granted as a Dubliner.

Over time, a business idea began brewing.

Buoyed by the enthusiasm Elodie and visitors to his home showed for the original jar, Damien decided to bring the concept to the wider public, but made the decision to concentrate on the nation’s capital, and with that 50 Things to Do in Dublin was born.
With the original jar, you’d wake up on a Saturday morning and pick out things like ‘The Aran Islands’ and say ‘Well that’s a bit of a trek, let’s pick something else’. The beauty of a more local jar is that you can do almost all of the activities spontaneously.
“We had so many friends and family members visit our house and see the jar on the shelf and say ‘Wow I wish I had one of those!’ so I thought to myself – ‘Why isn’t there one of those?’” Damien told us.
There’s a million guide books, blogs and websites to tell you what to do in Dublin, but none that encourage you to do things spontaneously, and that’s why I loved the idea of the jar.

PastedImage-72861 Source: Facebook

Many of us have attempted and successfully completed a DIY present for a loved one, but few of us would consider it worthy of public consumption. Damien was no exception, and while confident in the concept, he knew he’d need the help of others to bring it to the wider world.

“One of my best friends is the award-winning illustrator Fatti Burke,” he tells us.

My original jar was designed by me and looked a little bit like a 4th class art project. Fatti took my idea and made it look beautiful – even though it was my idea, I would have never gone any further with it without her brilliance.
Over the course of six months, Damien crowdsourced suggestions from friends, collated responses, and worked on curating the suggestions in order to ensure that he had an eclectic mix of activities.
Dublin is awesome, you could pick 200 things, no problem. Narrowing it down to fifty was a tough ask, it took about six months. We asked some of our closest friends to give us their top twenty things and eventually we decided on the fifty.

“We really tried to ensure that the fifty included some Dublin essentials, but also some hidden gems that you wouldn’t find in a TripAdvisor top ten,” he added.

While Damien hasn’t done all fifty activities himself, he says: “For the things I haven’t done, they have come highly recommended from friends, and part of the fun of the jar is that we can still use it ourselves.”

My personal favourite is in the outdoor category: ‘Have a picnic in the Iveagh Gardens’. On a sunny day, it’s a little haven right in the middle of the city, one of my absolute favourite places.

So, how does it work exactly? Well, it really is as simple as it sounds.

When you pick out a square, you know which category it is by the colour of the card. It’s a square-shaped card and on one side you have the icon for the category and on the other, the number and short description of what it is.

PastedImage-52335 Source: Facebook

With a full-time job and a new baby to care for, Damien acknowledges that the endeavour has been a time-consuming, but rewarding one.

 

Between himself and Elodie, he has all bases covered, explaining: “Elodie is our social media expert and manages our social media platforms. I manage our website and orders.”

“Each jar is handmade, with the labelling and the folding of the squares, it’s time consuming for sure, but strangely therapeutic!” Damien adds.

 

Just weeks on from its launch, feedback for 50 Things To Do In Dublin has been wholly positive.

“We have had a great response from people who bought the jar and also from some of the places that we included in the jar,” Damien tells us.

We have had emails from chefs, bar owners and museum curators thanking us for including them and congratulating us for giving people a fun and unique way of discovering Dublin.

Research has shown Damien that very few people have done all the activities contained within the jar, meaning that it’s likely to appeal to a wide range of people.

PastedImage-40155 Source: DamienKelly

“I don’t know anyone who has done all fifty things. Of course, this jar is a great gift for newcomers to Dublin, but even for locals, there is so much to do and see in Dublin,” he says.

It’s about discovering the city in the most spontaneous way. Whether you are looking for restaurants, pubs, culture, history or outdoor activities, pick a square and off you go!
Interestingly, Damien has his sights set on other cities around the country, and doesn’t intend to stop at the capital

 

“I lived in Australia for two years and I loved it there,” he says. “But I came back to Ireland because I simply couldn’t live so far from this country. I love it from top to bottom, so in the next few months, my goal is to do a Galway jar, a Cork jar, a Limerick jar and so on.”

Watch this space.

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About the author:

Niamh McClelland

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