22 travelers who all live in Tanglewood met in Dublin, Ireland this September for a great adventure. Lou Ann Weix had spent a year planning this trip, and it showed. We had our first Guinness in the Dublin airport, then the bus arrived to take us to our first hotel. We had a fabulous three course dinner, then some Irish dancers performed for us after dinner.
We toured Dublin by bus and on foot, and then went on to Downpatrick and Belfast. Once we entered into Northern Ireland, the money in use is the British pound, as that section of Ireland is still part of the United Kingdom. Our Chirish (Chinese-Irish) guide for the walking tour spoke about “The troubles” between Protestant and Catholic Irish in the sixties and seventies of the last century. We toured Crumlin Road jail, where many dissidents were sent. Our guide prays that the fact of Brexit, where Northern Ireland will not be in the European Union, (but the Republic of Ireland will), will not result in walls at the borders again.
At each stop our bus host, the inimitable Tom O’Riley, made sure we knew the history of the area or delivered us into the hands of capable walking tour guides. They used a microphone and we all had personal listening devices to hear every word, even on busy streets. Every accommodation was made to make sure our trip was fabulous. We were never on the bus for very long before we heard that we would be stopping at a pub to hear an Irish troubadour by the fire, or at a sheep farm to enjoy scones and tea and see how the sheep dogs earn their keep rounding up the sheep. We can’t forget the Giant’s Causeway, The Cliffs of Mohr, and our medieval banquet in a castle in County Kerry, where we were served without utensils, except for a “dagger”. The serving people were also excellent singers, and their rendition of Danny Boy was the most poignant one I heard.
The hotels were first class every night, and on 8 nights we were served a three course dinner in the hotel. Breakfast was always included, and there were plenty of potatoes at every meal. As we rounded the west side of Ireland, we encountered the areas that suffered the most in the famine of 1848, when 1 1/2 million Irish emigrated, to become the forebears of my family and many others. Again, the Irish government has created a replica of a “famine ship’, and we toured that to see what the crossing to the United States or Canada was like.
Our tour group was C.I.E. tours, and I would recommend this Irish-government owned tour group for its excellence and attention to detail. The Irish are welcoming hosts, and they have a country to be proud of.
Submitted by Jackie Shrake