Traveling Mamas

Inspiring you to explore our world

  • What is a romantic escape? Does it really have to be about time with your significant other? Does is have to be a honeymoon trip or anniversary journey? Is it who you are with or is it about where you go?

    My affair with Ireland began before I visited this magical place. I read about it as a child, with stories of fairies and legends like The Blarney Stone. I read about the mists in history books and her heroes in my romance novels. When the offer was made to travel across the ocean and actually step foot on this island, I jumped at the chance to meet one of my crushes.

    My entire being began to change when I stepped off the plane. My hair curled up, and I longed to start my exploration of the land that inspired so many writers. I visited faery rings, wondering if any of these places were portals into other worlds, like C.S. Lewis’ Narnia. I enjoyed dinner at a private residence overlooking the inspiration of Lake Isle of Innisfree by W.B. Yeats while my host read the poem aloud in between courses.

    I visited a seaside spa in Sligo and floated in a seaweed bath, imagining myself as a mermaid. I walked the streets of Dublin late one night, in search of Bram Stoker’s residence where he penned Dracula. I enjoyed a pint of Guinness at Davy Byrnes on Grafton Street, the place where James Joyce used to frequent.

    I learned about my name, Shannon, and the river my mother named me after. I also learned that the Irish don’t name their children Shannon, as it would be like an American naming their child Mississippi or Rio Grande, but the legend of Sinaan and how the river was named is a fascinating story in itself.

    I danced with friends and I danced with strangers all over the island, from Sligo, to Donegal, to Dublin. I enjoyed the food and the drink and the people. I fell in love with Ireland and I discovered a new depth in my soul and even fell in love with myself. I knew that when I returned home to my family I would be able to hold the memories of Ireland dear to my heart whenever I thought my life was dull with dishes, laundry, and carpools.

    Every once in a while, when life gets still, one might be able to find me listening to a bit of Celtic music, drinking a hot cup of Irish Breakfast tea, and flipping through photos or reading the poetry of Keats. My romantic affair with Ireland will always be in my heart, never to be forgotten.

    Ireland is a welcoming destination for families, romantic escapes (with or without spouse), girlfriend getaways, and definitely soul-oh trips. When you find the real Ireland, you find yourself. For more information visit DiscoverIreland.com or find your own romantic escape closer to home.

    This article was originally published here on October 26, 2008

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  • William Butler Yeats was an Irish poet and one of the foremost literary figures of the 20th century. A few years ago (way before TravelingMamas.com) I was hosted by Tourism Ireland to take a small group road trip around a certain area of the island. It was magical. Seriously. It was such a wonderful experience, that it’s one of those places I’ve kept close to my heart and I’ve been very reluctant to share any of my memories from there. It’s that wonderful. And that private for me.

    In the social media world, I’m known as the creative person behind TravelingMamas.com. What many people don’t realize, is that I’ve been writing about travel long before I created any blog or website. A topic that’s been mulled around for decades in the travel writing industry is – Do you really want to share the most wonderful secret places of travel? Our words can become monsters. If I find that little hidden place, if I write about and tell everyone, then that hidden place may change and not be the same. The next time I visit it may be overrun by travelers, trying to grab a piece of that hidden moment that I experienced in my stories.

    So back to Yeats.

    When I was in Ireland, I fell in love with his poems all over again. I saw the places he described. I even visited what some believe to be the inspiration for “The Lake Isle of Innisfree.” Our group was treated to a dinner overlooking the lake, with poetry recited between courses by chef and narrator Damian Brennan. I sat there looking out that window, listening to the words, thinking about what happened in life to bring me to that moment. No matter what happens from this moment forward, I know I’ve lived a fantastic and unbelievable life. 

    When You Are Old – W.B. Yeats

    When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
    And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
    And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
    Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
    How many loved your moments of glad grace,
    And loved your beauty with love false or true,
    But one man loved the pilgrim Soul in you,
    And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
    And bending down beside the glowing bars,
    Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
    And paced upon the mountains overhead
    And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

     

    W.B. Yeats is buried at Drumcliff in Sligo, Ireland. To plan your own discovery of Ireland, visit www.DiscoverIreland.com

    Special thanks to Tourism Ireland, Aer Lingus, and Fáilte Ireland for the wonderful experience and hosting my stay. If you’d like to read about the affair I had in Ireland, you can read the post Romantic Ireland on TravelingMamas.com

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  • Malahyde Castle DublinThe Dublin Pass with a transportation add-on is an affordable way to tour this Irish city at your leisure. I used this pass during my visit to Ireland and really enjoyed being able to hop-on and hop-off the bus at different stops. It was a safe and fun way to see the city. It includes entry into 30 different attractions, such as Dublin Castle, The Bram Stoker Dracula Experience, Dublin Writers Museum, and many more. If admission is normally free to the attraction, the Dublin Pass gets you things such as an extra souvenir or a discount in attraction gift shops.

    The Pass offers discounts at certain restaurants, on tours, and other attractions. Pass holders can get 25% off the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl or a free bottle of house wine at Abbey Tavern, with meal purchase. The pass can even be used for Airport transfer into Dublin City Centre, but beware that once you activate your card, the clock starts ticking.

    Audio and Video Tours

    VisitDublin.com offers free downloads of iWalks, which are audio tours for your iPod or mp3 player. There are twelve themed tours to choose from, or download all of them. The Guinness tours are available in a variety of languages. The official tourism site for Dublin also has a video to get you in the travel mood. The video is set to U2’s Beautiful Day.

    If you are thinking of visiting Dublin and searching for some great deals, or if you just want to take a virtual vacation away from work today, go to VisitDublin.com.

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  • april2006-359.jpgFriday’s post reminded me of when I had the pleasure of traveling to Dunfanaghey, located on the northwest coast of Ireland. I stayed at Arnold’s Hotel, a family run business that offers the amenities of a larger hotel, yet the charm of a bed and breakfast. I knew I would like this place, if not for the view of Sheephead Bay, then for the warm and inviting peat fire glowing in the lobby. The price was very reasonable, starting at 65Euros per night with breakfast. Arnold’s Hotel also offers special events throughout the year, including writing classes, photography weekends, and even home-cooked Irish cooking lessons.

    My room was clean and cozy, with a surprisingly spacious bath. I dropped my bags and went in search of comraderie down in The Whiskey Fly Bar, where our group met up. I did my best to make friends with the bartender, Sterling, but imagine my surprise when Mr. Arnold himself poured me a drink. He charmed me with his Irish accent and somehow talked me into another drink. And another. And then the sweet couple who was sitting next to me bought me a drink to celebrate their anniversary. Boy, I was loving Ireland.

    I stumbled up to my room, and my travel friends stumbled to theirs. I closed my eyes, but the room started to spin. Let’s just say it was a long Irish night. I wasn’t looking forward to an early game of golf, but when in Ireland, one must golf.
    The next morning, Mr. Arnold was awaiting me in the lobby, all ready to drive just a few of us to Dunfanaghey Golf Club. Mr. Arnold was even kind enough to let me borrow his very nice clubs.

    april2006-375.jpgThe course was fantastic and I couldn’t believe I was standing in Ireland, on a golf course, overlooking the bay. The breeze was crisp and cool, so I bought a goofy knit hat with a pom-pom on top and borrowed a warm vest from a friend. Non members can play here for 22Euros, but I think there is a discount for international visitors. What a steal!

    The course wasn’t very busy, so our crew really took in the scenery of the ocean on one side, and fields of horses on the other. This links-style course was simply breathtaking. Our afternoon closed with another visit to The Whiskey Fly Bar and a round of Guinness.

    The Irish really know how to entertain.

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  • I learned a few things while I was in Ireland:

    templebar.jpg

    A hot soak in seaweed relieves jet-lag.

    When someone says “Now that’s good craic (pronounced crack)” they are not referring to a drug. They are referring to a fun time and good conversation.

    Do not ask for cream with your tea or coffee. You will get whipped cream. Instead, ask for milk.

    A proper pint of Guinness is served to those who wait. It takes time for this brew to settle properly before drinking.

    People in Ireland don’t name their children Shannon (uh-hm, Mom). It is the US equivalent of naming your child Mississippi or Rio Grande.

    You can pay to spend the night in a former insane asylum in Sligo.

    Sitting in a pub, Guinness in hand, with a peat fire burning, is a really good memory to have.

    Jack in the Box is not a restaurant, it is a dead man from Dublin.

    U2 got their start playing on Grafton Street.

    Temple Bar is not an actual bar. Well, it is a bar, but the name refers to an area that is the cultural quarter of Dublin.

    After a few pints of Guinness, you might see faeries.

    To make your own memories and learn your own tips, visit DiscoverIreland.com.

    Slainte!

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