Goway’s General Manager of Retail Operations, Anthony Saba, recently went on a memorable Ireland vacation, and wonders why he put it off for so long!
Why hadn’t I done this before?
Ireland! It was always “there” – easy to do – so I would do it some other time. I told myself, “I only need a week, it is small and easy to get around,” so I put it off while I spent my 2 weeks somewhere else, doing something that, in my mind, was more complex. More fool me! Touring the back roads of Ireland made me realize the gem I had been missing. A place where a rugged and regal history is just a stone’s throw from a comfy chair by an open fire, which is as warm as the hospitality you will find.
I recently spent 9 marvellous days on the Emerald Isle, essentially exploring Southern Ireland, taking in the country roads and small villages that are everything you imagined Ireland to be. This was one of the most relaxing and laid back trips I have ever taken, yet somehow I was always so busy seeing the great sights and scenery, and just “being” in Ireland.
So inspired was I by the sheer power of the Cliffs of Moher, in County Clare, that the main picture for this article became my Facebook cover. The image of this staggering coastal vista stays in mind as clear as the day I was there.
Of course, the scenery to get there, driving through the otherworldly landscapes of the Burren, and stumbling across the 13th century, Corcomroe Abbey, added to a day that somehow seemed both amazing and yet “normal”, for a day driving through Ireland. That feeling of ease and comfort would stay every day on my trip.
County Kerry followed, and this area was also a real highlight. Of course, there was some amazing Irish scenery, but the views into Ireland’s past that I was able to get here certainly left an impression. The town of Killarney was a hot spot for some great dining and lots of music, Irish or not. When the violins get too much, there is plenty of pop and rock, maybe even country, if that is your thing, to go around.
The scenery here was “classic Ireland,” I guess you could say. There were green rolling hills, followed by dramatic landscapes at almost every turn.
Then there was the sea – always in sight, and always the bluest blue. And hey, don’t believe what you hear… it doesn’t always rain in Ireland.
At this point it should be noted that one of this biggest parts of experiencing an Ireland vacation is not done outdoors, but rather within the walls of a cozy village pub, or any pub for that matter, with a warming Guinness in hand. So much of the joy of Ireland is done sitting, talking to the locals, talking to your fellow travellers, with a drink and maybe some hearty food – Irish stew or fish & chips perhaps?
This is certainly what I did, and I like to think of those times as when we “stopped to smell the shamrock.” For me, this is where you get the introduction to the real Ireland.
Day after day the highlights continued, including Molly Gallivan’s Cottage and Traditional Farm on the Ring of Kerry, the charming village of Kinsale – home to a burgeoning culinary scene, the coastal town of Cobh – essentially the last stop of the Titanic before departing on its fateful voyage, Ross Castle, Kilkenny Castle, and so much more.
Really, every landscape, every village, every old building, and every story created a travel experience that felt at once so unique and different, and yet also felt so much like home.
I would like to say that I didn’t drink any beer or Irish whiskey, but of course I did! I was in Ireland. Fabulous brewery and distillery tours add to the experience. You must do them! Guinness is good for you!
A few days in Dublin were, in my mind, the only way to end this amazing experience. No green fields and leprechauns here. Dublin is a bustling, cosmopolitan city, combining the modern with historic in a compact, almost seamless blend. The bars and restaurants of Temple Bar are just a stroll from Trinity College, with its Old Library and the famous Book of Kells.
Stroll 5 minutes, and bustling Grafton Street is a shopper’s paradise. A further short stroll will take you to Dublin Castle and Christ Church Cathedral. The River Liffey is always there, anchoring it all together.
I ended my trip to Ireland with something special to my heart – a day of golf on a classic Irish course. In 18 holes I experienced all the weather that only a links golf, and perhaps Ireland itself, can throw at you. Beautiful sunshine, 40 mile an hour winds, 7 holes in driving rain, and a pause for 20 minutes while it hailed! Then finally… wonderful sunshine again, but always that wind. It was awesome!
At the end of it all, my final impression of this incredible trip is that really, Ireland is just so easy to do!
Ireland provides the type of travel experience that makes you excited and inspired, yet somehow as comfortable and relaxed as if you had just driven to the country for a weekend. It’s easy to get to, easy to get around, and has people who will welcome you with open arms. For me, Ireland provides a travel experience where doing nothing much, or quite a lot, can leave you just as fulfilled.
Visit Ireland! I bet you will wonder what took you so long!