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Group of friends at wine tasting

An Irish Adventure

The highlight of my fall was a whirlwind educational trip to Ireland. 🍀 When given the opportunity to join a group of colleagues on a journey hosted by my favorite onsite partner in this part of the world, I jumped at the chance to go!

Gin tasting with travel friends
Gin tasting with travel friends

Clay shooting at Ballyfin
Clay shooting at Ballyfin

Magical Ballyfin
Magical Ballyfin

Just about everything I’d ever heard about Ireland and its people proved to be true.  Beautiful villages and scenery, an extremely rich history, hip cosmopolitan cities, pubs everywhere, and some of the friendliest and happiest people in the world is how I’d best describe my overall impression.  One never meets a stranger in Ireland!

Pub friends in Dublin
Pub friends in Dublin
Glorious Galway

What did surprise me (pleasantly!) about Ireland was the food.  Despite common misconception, Ireland is much more than a country in love with potatoes (although I will say they’re served at most meals in some yummy form or fashion!).  The Irish are truly in the middle of a major food renaissance.  “Foraging, farm to table, sourced from within 50 miles of us, etc.” are phrases I heard regularly when dining.  I didn’t have anything less than an outstanding meal during my entire trip.  And did I mention the cheese??? 

Oyster Tasting in Galway
Oyster tasting in Galway
Ready for another yummy Irish meal

With its many types of lodging (think grand country estates, castles, manor houses, traditional hotels, small inns, etc), Ireland offers the luxury traveler no shortage of options.  My personal itinerary included a broad mix of hotel styles including Ballyfin https://ballyfin.com, Ashford Castle https://www.ashfordcastle.com, and The Shelbourne https://www.theshelbourne.com.  Each was special in its own way and couldn’t have been more different from one another.

Beautiful Ballyfin
Beautiful Ballyfin

The magic of Ashford Castle
The magic of Ashford Castle

Ballyfin's stunning "Gold Room"
Ballyfin’s stunning “Gold Room”

My view from the Presidential Suite at Ashford Castle
Million dollar view from the Presidential Suite at Ashford Castle

For as varied as the hotels are, so are the options for touring and activities.  I experienced quite a few fun tours and activities with many more on my wish list for a return trip.  Highlights for me were falconry at Ashford Castle, archery at Ballyfin, a sheepherding demonstration in the countryside, a yummy food tour in Galwa,y and VIP private visit to view the Book of Kells in Dublin.

Falconory at Ashford Castle
Falconry at Ashford Castle
Memorable day with a sheepherder
Sheepherding experience arranged through my onsite partner

The Long Room at Trinity College
Food tour in Galway
Food tour in Galway
Archery lesson at Ballyfin
With all of the choices in regions, hotels and activities, no Ireland itinerary I design for clients looks the same. I work closely with my preferred onsite partner to hand-pick the right parts of the country, properties and activities..  Their in-depth knowledge of Ireland and local connections are invaluable to helping me design an Irish trip of a lifetime for each and every client!