Journey Through Ireland

This item appears on page 54 of the August 2011 issue.

My husband and I enjoyed a wonderful trip through Ireland and Northern Ireland, Aug. 7-28, 2010, orchestrated by Conn O’Scannlain, owner of Journey Through Ireland (University Place, WA; 800/828-0826). Conn has 35 years of experience and is super-friendly and super-knowledgeable.

Along with being in specific locations on particular dates, we wanted to tour on our own or with a private guide and, if possible, to spend more than one day in each location, using it as a base to see surrounding areas.

I gave Conn my list of cities and sights on our wish list and he created a customized, 60-page, detailed itinerary that included driving directions, sights to see along the way and photos of our hotels.

He also provided a driving atlas, guidebooks and two prepaid OPW Heritage cards to get us into most of the sights free of charge, and he lent us a cell phone to use locally. The only other thing he could have possibly done was provide us with a GPS because roads in Ireland are poorly marked. We did opt for one with our Hertz rental car and it was definitely a marriage saver!

The cost of roughly $9,500 for the two of us included exquisite accommodations (with breakfasts); rental car; day trip and flight to the Aran Islands; a jaunting car ride in Killarney National Park; a hop-on/hop-off tour of Dublin; several guided tours and pub crawls, and two nights at Ashford Castle.

We chose four- and five-star accommodations, primarily small boutique hotels and manor homes but also two golf resorts. Most of the places chosen by Conn are known for their superb kitchens, and all of the meals we had were just scrumptious (as evidenced by the seven pounds I gained).

In Galway, for example, we stayed at the Glenlo Abbey Hotel and enjoyed a delightful meal in their Pullman Restaurant, comprising two Pullman train cars behind the hotel that were actually used in the filming of “Murder on the Orient Express.”

All in all, this was a first-class, top-drawer vacation that went way beyond what I expected! I recommend Journey Through Ireland heartily. Feel free to contact me via e-mail c/o ITN if you have any questions about what to see and do in Ireland.

Troy, MI