My BFF and I had the wonderful opportunity to travel for the first time to beautiful Ireland with Maureen Fautley. What an amazing tour guide she is!
Not only does Maureen know her way around Ireland, but she speaks some Gaelic, can drive easily on the wrong side of the road (or as the Irish would say, the right side of the road), she knows some of the locals, she knows the best places to eat and is a wealth of information on Irish history, cool facts and great places to visit.
Maureen is totally personable, outgoing, adventurous and has the best sense of humour! She made us feel very welcome and was so happy to share her stories, adventures and knowledge of Ireland. We even had the honour of having lunch with Maureen’s cousin and her daughter. They took a 4 hour bus ride from Connemara to meet us for a beautiful lunch in Dublin. Hearing stories about Ireland from people who have lived In Ireland their whole lives – amazing! They made us feel very welcome.
We were able to tour Dublin (on foot and by train from the outskirts), go to Malahide Castle (amazing castle and wonderful/amazing food at Avoca) and we stayed at the Ariel House B&B. This B&B was absolutely wonderful! Rooms were great and the beds so comfortable. The food was delicious and afternoon tea with a scone or two…need I say more?
We then drove to Cork and saw wonderful scenery and historical sites along the way. The University College of Cork (UCC) is such a beautiful campus and setting. We also toured the Glucksman Gallery and Crawford Art Gallery – totally different, totally amazing!
We had a delicious vegetarian dinner at Café Paradiso and the chocolate mousse was the best I have ever had. We had the absolute honour of spending 3 hours with some local ladies just outside Cork doing Carrickmacross lace making. We were able to make one lace Shamrock each during this time and bring it home as a keepsake. Priceless! We also had a great shopping stop at the Blarney Woollen Mills and got a tour of Blarney castle and yes, the opportunity to “Kiss the Blarney Stone” (a must while in Ireland!).
My favourite place was our next stop in Kinsale, by the sea. What an absolutely beautiful, quaint, picturesque seaside village. Shopping, walking, delicious tea and treats at “Poet’s Corner”, and a guided tour of Philip Gray’s art gallery. Philip Gray is an amazing artist and wonderful, down-to-earth person. This man paints canvases under the water in the Bahamas and other places with sharks and grouper swimming by; he takes art to a whole other level!
We also had a stop at Giles Norman’s black and white photography shop, which was also amazing. I have my eye on a beautiful Connemara pony picture that will be shipping to Canada very soon!
Off to Cobh as well to see the Titanic museum; very humbling standing there looking at the 2nd class passenger dock, knowing this was the last stop the Titanic made before it set off on its only voyage. One very cool landmark in Cobh is the “deck of cards” houses – a sight to see!
Our last night was in Dublin at a hotel by the airport, which was a nice way to relax and reminisce about our wonderful trip. And, the shopping at the airport was awesome!
I would highly recommend a trip to Ireland with Maureen – it will be an unforgettable experience!
Sláinte (to your health)