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Travel stories

A first-time traveler recounts her adventure in Ireland

Feb 07, 2017 by Jamie Gallerani

First-time traveler Jennifer has always supported her daughter Brenna’s travel dreams, and the favor came back around when Brenna nominated her to win a free tour during EF’s 50th-anniversary celebrations in 2015. She was one of 12 lucky winners and knew just where to go on her trip: Ireland. Here are some of her top memories and photos from our Ireland: Traditions of the Emerald Isle tour.

When did you start dreaming of seeing Ireland?
After I got married. My husband has Irish ancestry, so we knew that we would go someday. I was so touched by my daughter Brenna’s free-tour nomination during EF’s contest and was very blessed to have Go Ahead pick her entry. This was a dream trip come true!

If you had to pick a favorite site, which would it be?
I had many favorites, which included the cathedrals, castles, and old pubs. I loved the architecture—there was so much detail, beauty, and history in each cathedral and castle. The pubs were rich in history as well, and each had its own character and design. My favorites were the ones that had local musicians playing authentic Irish instruments and singing old songs.

What was the most stunning place you visited?
County Kerry was the most beautiful stop on our journey. While traveling along the Ring of Kerry, we admired rolling green hills lined with beautiful stone fences and the breathtaking scenery of the coast. We were also able to watch a sheepdog demonstration, which turned out to be one of the highlights on my trip.

I’d love to hear about some of the most special on-tour moments!
My best memory is of an evening at the Arbutus Hotel in Killarney, home of Buckley’s Bar. Our Tour Director Paul surprised us with a night of music. Terry, our bus driver, played guitar and sang old Irish sing-along tunes. We all sang over pints of Guinness and Irish whiskeys. It’s a night I will remember fondly. I also have good memories of climbing all the way up Blarney Castle. I didn’t kiss the Blarney Stone, but my husband did! The Guinness Storehouse tour in Dublin was also a lot of fun. I’m now certified to pour a pint (or two!) of Guinness. It’s a must-do on your free day in Dublin.

Tell me about the Irish locals.
All the locals we met were extremely friendly and helpful, and had a story or two to tell. If you asked them a question or for directions they would stop what they were doing to help you. They were wonderful people!

If you had to name the most delicious dish you tried, what would it be?
The Irish stew and soda bread. I noticed that the soda bread was made a little differently in each county we visited. Each version was delicious, especially with the fresh Irish butter! I also enjoyed a melt-in-your-mouth Bailey’s Irish Cream cheesecake, which was made with the freshest cream.

September must have been a nice time to visit Ireland.
Traveling in September was beautiful; everything was so green. We only had a couple days of rain.

Any perks to traveling on a guided tour with Go Ahead?
I liked that everything was taken care of for us. We didn’t have to worry about transportation, directions, or opening hours. Our Tour Director knew the itinerary and our days were planned out well. I would definitely recommend that first-time travelers go with a tour group; you have more options of places to see. Now that I have been on tour, I know which areas I would like to go back to and explore further.

How has travel changed you for the better?
Traveling has helped me relax more and has taught me to not rush around as much. It’s so important to enjoy each day.

Any other destinations at the top of your travel wish list?
Alaska! I have always wanted to see the Aurora Borealis.

Where did you go on your first Go Ahead tour? Tell us all about your trip on Facebook!

Traveler stories
About the author | Jamie Gallerani
It was Jamie’s homestay in Germany that made her fall in love with travel (and her studies in Florence that really sealed the deal). When she’s not writing and sharing the magic of seeing the world with others, she’s usually on the lookout for her new favorite memoir, testing out recipes at home, or visiting her family on Cape Cod.

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