My great grandfather emigrated from Ireland a few years after the time period defined as the “Great Famine”. That combined with my love of history gave me unbelievably high expectations for my first trip to Ireland. After all, what history is more exciting than that of your ancestors? To take my two adult sons with me was a life-long dream. This was a very emotional undertaking for me, I don’t hesitate to say. And the trip far exceeded those expectations. My agent made that happen!
When I first spoke with her, we spent an exceptional amount of time discussing those expectations. When I received her itinerary and quote, I was impressed with the quality of her package. Not only did she put together an exceptional itinerary, but I found her quote to be less than or only slightly higher than the four other quotes I received from competing agencies. And her proposed itinerary provided more details than anyone else. In addition, as we discussed some of the details of the locales she chose, she was able to tell me the specifics of what I said I wanted and why she chose that locale. There was no question of which agency to choose. And an indication of her success; I did not change anything, which was a shock since I did extensive research prior to planning the trip. And she was prompt on answering all my questions and providing detailed information. Note also that there was only one change to her original itinerary, and that was due to one establishment scheduling a wedding and was full by the time we booked. Her suggested alternate was fantastic. Everything else was as originally planned.
I am not a world traveller, though I plan to change that in my retirement. However, I have never met a more friendly people than the Irish. I wish I could write a review somewhere for the country itself. Everywhere we went, everyone, from hotel managers & staff, people on the street, to the cab drivers, always went the extra step to try and help even when not requested. And they love to engage in conversation. (Especially about American politics – “What is this sh*te with Hillary and Trump”?) Now keep in mind that this was a rather upscale trip beyond what I or the average person would normally take, but the establishments where we stayed that our agent chose were unbelievable. They not only were beautiful, but the staff at every establishment we stayed took the level of Irish friendliness up a number of notches. Just amazing to me. Second highest memory was the beauty of the Irish country. Being a drinking Irishman by ancestory, the pubs with their traditional Irish music were a close third. I will say, a two night stay at Ashford Castle was probably the highest point regarding locales. Donegal was right behind it though. It seems most formal tours stop in Galway before heading back to Dublin. Do not let that happen on your trip! Our agent stated that Donegal was one of her favorite places, for good reason. Beautiful countryside that is different than the southern regions, and a really cool town. Don’t miss it.
Because we chose to spend a considerable amount of time on the grounds of Ashford Castle, which I do not regret, and because we visited the Aran Islands in the vicinity, we never got to spend time in Galway town. I will be sure to visit next trip, as well as parts of Northern Ireland. But my greatest regret is having to leave the awesome country that is Ireland.
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