Kintra on the Causeway interview…

It’s not every day that I get the chance to on the BBC, but this evening we were thrilled to listen to an interview that Helen Mark and the Kintra team from BBC Radio Ulster carried out during one of our tour group stops at the Giant’s Causeway in County Antrim.

Kintra is a weekly magazine radio program broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster that explores all things Scotch-Irish (Ulster-Scots) and this week they caught up with one of my tour groups to explore the links between America and Northern Ireland to celebrate the 4th of July. It was a joy to meet Helen and Johnny, and to hear from our guests what they thought of visiting Northern Ireland – everyone spoke so well, and they even interviewed my boys Peter and Jack on which American Presidents had Scotch-Irish ancestry!

The show was broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster, and was listened to throughout Northern Ireland, and Ireland. What a fun experience. See a link below to listen – our wee bit is just 6 minutes long, so you can check it out for fun!

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0006krl

Hope you enjoyed the 4th of July weekend, and it is a joy to explore how strong our links really are on both sides of the Atlantic! – and thanks to my friend Mark Rodgers from Dalriada Kingdom Tours who organized this, and who is beyond doubt the best guide in County Antrim! – thanks Mark!

Judith x

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The Voice of the Irish – Calling Saint Patrick Home

Saul's Church

The site of the original barn that was given to Patrick by the Irish Chieftain

With only a few days until St. Patrick’s Day I wanted to follow up on my story from last week about the journey of our patron saint, as this is such a great story, and worth telling, so here we go…

When Patrick returned to Ireland, the land of his previous slavery, he landed just outside Downpatrick, in County Down where he promptly converted a local chieftain to to Christianity. The chieftain was so impressed that he donated a barn for St. Patrick to live and worship in and this primitive building became the very first church in Ireland in the early 5th century.

In 1932, Saul’s church was then built on the very same spot as the original barn to commemorate the first place of worship established by St. Patrick in Ireland. It’s a very special place to visit and in the words of Dr. Tim Campbell who guides our tour groups to the site “it’s a thin place” and a stillness that encapsulates a sense of wonder. For those of you who have visited here with me you can recall these feelings and if you have not visited I encourage you to put it on your bucket list. Still a few spots open on my two Legendary Irish tours this summer…

Here are the dates:

June 17th to 23rd $2495 per person sharing (6 nights and 7 days)

June 30th to 7th $2895 per person sharing (7 nights and 8 days)

https://shamrockandpeach.com/legendary-ireland-tour/

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Judith  (Shamrock and Peach)

 

Love Irish Chocolate… continued

In pursuit of the best Irish chocolates we turn to Dingle Town in County Kerry,a stop on last summer’s Shamrock and Peach Southern Elegance tours. The Wild Irish Chocolate Shop, situated on the main street in Dingle, had an assortment of fudge, marshmallows, toffee, truffles and one of the largest selection of chocolate bars I have ever seen… (in fact you can choose from 47 different varieties).  Dingle is not the only place to purchase Wild Irish Chocolate brand when you are visiting Ireland so take my advice and try it for yourself, with varieties of bars like seaweed and lime splash and White Chocolate Cranberry you will need to leave extra room in your suitcase.

On the countdown to Valentine’s Day this is one of the Irish chocolate stops I will be dreaming about and look forward to returning again this summer to enjoy Wild Irish Chocolates (all handmade in Co. Clare, Ireland).

Love it!

Shamrock and Peach (Judie the Irish foodie)

Love Irish Chocolate

Are you just like me and in love with chocolate?  Of course you are! – This week is Valentine’s, and in celebration I am blogging about some of my favorite Irish Chocolate experiences. For us Irish living abroad there are always two requests we have for friends and family who are coming over to the USA to stuff into their luggage before they leave, and they would be – Irish Chocolate and Irish Tea! Make room in those suitcases and fill them with goodies please!

Yes, chocolate is considered one of the foods I adore, so, being Valentine’s day I am excited to share some dreamy, creamy memories.  Here we go…

During my travels throughout Ireland I am always excited to discover new artisan chocolate-tiers springing up all over the country and many of my favorites are in my bucket list to visit this coming year. Last year, Shamrock and Peach Tours had the chance to stop at Hazel Mountain Chocolate in the Burren, in County Clare and considering the ambiance, landscape, never mind the to ‘to die for’ coffee and chocolate ,it did not disappoint!  Tomorrow I am following up with another favorite (and this time with a stop in Dingle)…

Love that chocolate, and check these guys out!

Shamrock and Peach (Judie the Irish foodie)

Bluegrass meets Greengrass

Summer tours are off and running and what a kick off!  Starmakers Dance Academy from South Carolina took Ireland by storm!  In Larne, a port city in County Antrim, the links between South Carolina and Northern Ireland were celebrated and highlighted  – and with good cause, as the first immigrant ship left from this very port of Larne to the American colonies in 1718 carrying those pioneering first Scots-Irish settlers, and the influence of our rich Irish heritage was demonstrated right here with the art of clogging.  An art from that traces it’s roots directly to those Scots-Irish settlers, but now is a distinctly southern American dance.

We were generously hosted by the Mid-Antrim Council and greeted by the Lord Mayor’ with our group performing with the Antrim Coast Dance Academy where again,  the fusion and influence from the shores of Ireland to South Carolina became apparent.

Other high lights included the Titanic Center in Belfast, the Giants Causeway, Slieve League Cliffs, Devenish island and Trinity College Dublin.  We ended the tour with dancing in Ireland’s highest point at Johnny Fox’s Pub to complete our week of adventure and fun.

Tomorrow I meet a greet my second tour in Dublin airport and looking forward to more stories to share from the road!

Joy in the journey!

Judie the Irish foodie

Winter Solstice at Newgrange, Ireland

We all know Ireland is a special place, but did you know about Newgrange on December 21st? – Now this is really special….

New Grange is older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian Pyramids and on December 21st ( the Winter Solstice) it is a symbol of light to our dark world. The Winter Solstice is the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year.  The mound that you see in the picture covers a single tomb that consists of a long passage and a cross-shaped chamber. The Megalithic chamber was build for the Winter Solstice and when the run rises a shaft of light illuminates the chamber through an opening in the roof box. The actual purpose of the chamber is unclear, although recent research suggests it could of had an astronomical function, but whatever it was built for…it is amazing! How could stone age people have built such an amazing thing?

This year I lead a tour of American guests to NewGrange and the response was that of complete awe and fascination! Just like the ancient Celts we look for light and the sun to break forth in the midst of the Bleak Mid Winter!

…just amazing. Please check it out and I do hope everyone is enjoying the run up to Christmas – excitement is building!

Judie the Irish foodie

Ireland’s 2017 Hotel Restaurant of the Year Awards

I am so proud of the deserved success of Chef Noel McMeel and his talented chef team at the Lough Erne Hotel. The Catalina restaurant was awarded Best Hotel Restaurant of the year at Ireland’s Food and Wine awards.  Miriam Atkins, editor of Food and Wine Magazine said “Ireland is celebrating a Food Revolution” – and how true that is!

This summer I was able to bring my wonderful American tour guests to dine at the Catalina restaurant and stay at the prestigious Lough Erne Hotel, which is always a particular treat. The welcome and treatment we receive is second to none and one guests even said that we are treated like royalty!  We are so looking forward to returning to dine in 2018 and on behalf of Shamrock and Peach tours offer our heartfelt congratulations!

Judith the Irish foodie

Excited to announce our 2018 Irish Tours!

For many of us, summer is drawing to a close. Schools are back in session, traffic has resumed it’s daily grind and the memories of our 2017 vacations are behind us – however, we are now giving you something to look forward to! – yes, our plans for next years Irish vacations are complete and we are excited to showcase them to you and our website is ready to accept bookings for our 2018 tours! Who-hoo!

…and we have a brand new tour to announce into the bargain! Yes, after three years of painstaking research we are glad to reveal our ‘ Southern Elegance Ireland Tour’ for 2018. Many of you have been asking whether the Shamrock & Peach will tour Cork and Kerry – well, now we will, but with lot’s of other goodies and luxury touches added for good measure…

Our now famous Legendary Ireland tour will include some of our favorite luxury resorts including the Lodge at Ashford Castle, the Lough Erne Resort and the Slieve Donard Resort. While our accommodations in our Southern Irish tour include Mount Juliet Estate, Hayfield Manor, the beautiful Malton Hotel in Killarney and the one and only Ballymaloe House in Co. Cork. We are seeking to find the best and most unique accommodations in Ireland and are working with our favorite chefs to make our guests feel like each day exceeds beyond all expectations.

Going to Ireland is on the bucket list for many people and that’s why we make each day extraordinary when you tour with us. Please check our our website and email me!

Judith@shamrockandpeach.com

Here is the link to our website for our new Southern Elegance tour:

http://www.shamrockandpeach.com/tour_2__southern_elegance_irish_tour

…and for our Legands tour:

http://www.shamrockandpeach.com/tour_1__legendary_ireland_tour

Joy in the Journey!…and see you in Ireland!…let’s dream!

Judie the Irish foodie

 

Celtic Culture on the isle of Mull

Sitting in a wee pub in Tobermory on the island of Mull, also know as the Western Isles of Scotland, I was transported back home to Ireland. With only 12 miles of water between Scotland and Ireland, the people of the narrow water are held together closely, not just by geography, but also by culture.  Our red headed bar tender was from Donegal in the North of Ireland and we were later entertained by a musician (also from Donegal) singing modern and  popular Irish songs to the early hours of the morning. The locals were only getting going around midnight when we left and we knew the craic (Gaelic word for a good time) was only getting going!

At the bar sat the fishermen, and we knew that the fish had to be good, – and it was. Our guests all said it was the best fish and chips they had ever tasted, with flaky meaty flesh and perfectly crispy batter as we enjoyed a farewell luncheon booked at Macgochans Pub , sitting, viewing the bay in Tobermory in idyllic surroundings.

The joys of Scotland – the other Gaelic land!

Take me back to Tobermory!

Judie the Irish foodie

Congratulations to Rory McIlroy and Erica

Built in 1228

800 years of history

Shamrock and Peach would like to congratulate Northern Irish Golfer Rory McIlroy and Erica Stoll on their recent marriage and wedding at Ashford Castle, in Co. Mayo.  It’s just lovely to see a fellow countryman enjoy so much success and still maintain the Irish values of humility and generosity. I loved reading how the couple met in 2012 and did not date until 2015 and Rory appreciated the fact they were friends first before going out together.  The fairy tale wedding was this past weekend at the 800 year old Ashford Castle built by the Anglo-Norman de -Burgos.  The castle has had several owners since including the famous Guinness family.  The Castle is nestled in 350 acres of gardens and woodlands and the perfect setting for this grand affair.

Shamrock and Peach tours are gearing up to visiting the Castle staying at the Lodge at Ashford this June.  Here a few pictures from our stay last year!

Keep up the great work Rory and we will be raising a toast to you this June!

Joy in the Journey!

Judie the Irish foodie