[This is one of a series of interviews. Read more here.]
I recently had the pleasure of working with Kelly Weber and her cousins Sue and Maureen to help plan and book their trip to Ireland. I really enjoyed working with them to find out what their priorities were and put together an plan that they were excited about... their final itinerary included four nights in Dublin, three nights in Killarney, and two nights in Doolin.
Hi Kelly - can you tell my readers about yourself?
For the past ten years, I have been working for nonprofit arts organizations, managing and marketing arts programs and producing arts festivals and special events. I traveled with two of my cousins, both of whom are artists.
Why did you and your cousins choose to go to Ireland?
My cousins Sue and Maureen and I have been talking about going to Ireland for a long time, especially since we have an Irish heritage. Over the past several years, each of us has had to focus on ailing parents. As our parents’ generation is no longer with us, we decided we should celebrate our ancestry with a trip to the Emerald Isle!
Your trip took you to three very different places: Dublin, Killarney, and Doolin. How did you like each of them?
Our trip started in Dublin and then moved south to Killarney and then up the western coast to Doolin. We really enjoyed each of the cities/towns – since most of Ireland consists of small cities and villages, it was great to spend time in a variety of areas and also see the pure beauty of Ireland.
Did you have the opportunity to experience any local art or music Doolin or Killarney? I know that’s something you were looking forward to.
In each of the areas, we visited pubs to catch some local music. Even though quite small, Doolin is known for the quality of its music and it was definitely true. Also, you certainly don’t meet any strangers in pubs!
What were your favorite foods or meals on the trip?
We really enjoyed lunches in Ireland – lots of homemade hearty soups and thick breads. Otherwise, I have to admit that our two favorite meals were Italian and French. There don’t seem to be many green vegetables served in Ireland, but definitely lots of starches.
Which did you prefer: the Ring of Kerry or Dingle Peninsula, and why?
We toured both the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula. We definitely preferred the Ring of Kerry, but we did these tours on back to back days and I think the scenery is just too similar. The absolute best photo of the trip was captured on the Ring of Kerry – an inverted rainbow that was absolutely spectacular.
Favorite Parts of the Trip (you didn’t ask, but I’m adding!)
There were several highlights of our trip that I keep revisiting in my head (and in pictures). We had a wonderful walking guide in Dublin that introduced us to SO many things we never would have seen on our own; we loved getting into the rural areas and seeing the Cliffs of Kilkee and The Burren; we got to see the International Horse Show in Dublin which felt like we had gone to the Olympics; and I managed to master driving on the wrong side of the road – quite an accomplishment in my travel book. In Dublin, we met up with other members of our U.S. family for three days – some great memories were created for the seven of us.
What was it like working with a travel consultant to help plan your trip?
We could not have planned this trip by ourselves. When you haven’t been to a country and you want to see more than one city, you definitely need some guidance. Our trip was seamless – thanks to Kevin. He had great suggestions and asked really good questions that we had to ask ourselves – for example, how much structure did we want in our trip, how much moving around did we want to do, did we want to do any of our own driving? He also has some amazing contacts in Ireland that he introduced us to (via a conference call) so there were multiple expert hands shaping our trip for us. Kevin was also respectful of our budget. And, he checked in with us along the way of our trip which we appreciated!
Were there any ways that Ireland was different than you expected?
As a country, Ireland has had to struggle with multiple wars, famine and emigration, yet the Irish people have such a joy in living. Wherever you go – there’s a contagious positive spirit that runs deep in the culture. I think the surprise was how difficult and prevalent the Irish language is – you think everything will be in English, and it is, but listening to Irish radio and listening to the actual Irish language in the more rural areas, you realize you are in a foreign country.
Where would you like to go for your next big trip?
There are many trips on my wish list – I definitely want to see Prague and Budapest; there is much of France still to explore; and Italy always calls me back! Oh, and I’d love to see the tulips in bloom in Amsterdam.
Thank you Kelly!