New Wild Atlantic Way Tour June 28th to July 5th 2020

Donegal to Dingle

A sensational Journey

So what is the Wild Atlantic Way?  How does 2,500 Km of spectacular Irish coastlines, epic craggy cliffs, wild landscapes and hidden sandy beaches sound to you?  Next summer we will launch a new tour route that will stretch from the northern heights of Slieve League (Sliabh Liag) in Donegal to  the Dingle Pininsula in the southwest atlantic coast looking out to the Blasket Islands.

Immersing ourselves in culture we will visit areas that are Gaeltacht (places where the Irish language is spoken).  Both Inishmore on the Araon islands, and Dingle are places where the Irish government subsidizes the survival of the Irish culture. Whilst English is spoken everywhere, it’s always a treat to encounter the past by hearing Gaelic spoken by the locals.

Last but not least we will be staying in incredible accommodations including the 4 star Harvey’s Point in Donegal, the 4 star Twelve Hotel in Galway and the 5 star Europe Hotel in Killarney.  We will feast on the best of Irish food and Taste the Island as we travel.  By the end of the week you will be ready to dance to some toe tapping Irish music sessions in one of the Killarney’s famous pubs, where the fun never ends and Guinness is ever flowing.

Here a few pictures of what’s in store on our Wild Atlantic Way Tour….

Here’s the website if you want to join us… with love from Judith x

http://www.shamrockandpeach.com

 

Ireland’s Oldest Bar and the Birthplace of Irish Whiskey

Sean's Bar

Situated in the heart of Ireland

Athlone is a medieval town in the center of Ireland with a huge 12th Century Norman Castle and just beside it, you will discover the oldest bar in Ireland, and perhaps in the world no less!

Yes, Sean’s Bar in the heart of Ireland is recorded in the Guinness Book of Records with documented proof it dates back to 900AD.  This summer we got a very warm welcome and a history tour when we stopped by  for some refreshment with one of our US tour groups. During the tour we learned that in 1970 during renovations they discovered  the walls were made of “wattle and wicker” and old coins that are now in display in the National History Museum in Dublin. The city of Athlone or ‘Atha Luian’ (the Ford of Luain) is named after the man who built the pub as an Inn and he is said to have helped travelers cross over the river.

History Tour

During our history tour of the pub we learned that the story of Irish Whiskey was birthed in the 6th century when the skill of distillation was introduced by traveling monks; with links to a small town in the surrounding area called Lough Ree and the monastery at Clonmacnoise.  The earliest mention of whiskey is recorded in ‘the annals of Clonmacnoise’ when it mentions the death of a chieftain to taking a surfeit of ‘aqua vatae’ at Christmas.  The name Whiskey is an anglicized version of the phrase ‘aqua vatae’ or ‘Uisce breatha’ that means ‘water of life’.  So when you visit Athlone we recommend you take time to sip and savor and drink in it’s history in the way that the Irish have been doing it for centuries…. Slainte… Oh, and did I also mention Sean’s bar even have their own signature whiskey for sale in partnership with the West Cork Distillery?

Sean’s Bar

Looking forward to our next visit to Ireland’s core…

Shamrock and Peach

The Irish – Rich in Family and Friends

Hayfield Collection Hotels

The most rewarding thing about being a tour operator is sharing joy and creating memories for guests who travel with Shamrock and Peach Tours. I work really hard to tick all the boxes with luxury travel, selecting interesting and historical top notch 4 and 5 star accommodations, award winning restaurants and gorgeous grounds, but it’s a universally accepted truth that the greatest commodity in Ireland cannot be bought, but found in it’s people. I remember when I was teaching a cooking class in Atlanta a student said to me “the Irish are rich in family and friends” and it really struck a cord in my heart.  I am lucky enough to have found many unique places in Ireland who can deliver personal connections to my guests in the way of service, laughter and hospitality. Experiences such as an Executive Chef taking time away from the kitchen to explain his locally sourced menu, a surprise welcome gesture on arrival to a resort and feeling cared for just like family is unforgettable .

Dining in Hayfield Manor

There are many such properties I want to feature in my blog over these next few weeks , but let me start with one of Cork’s finest 5 Star Hotel, Hayfield Manor.  The hotel is owned by the Scally family and is lovingly tucked away the heart of the city beside University City Cork.  An unexpected retreat of luxury, surprise and just an escape from it all! Many of my Alumni have already experienced the hospitality in Killarney Royal as well as Hayfiled manor and know exactly what I am talking about.  Time and time again my guests will mention by name the bar tender, the receptionist and the maids and hope they are still working there because their experience felt so personal.  When you stay in a Hayfield Collection hotel there is a sense of warmth, of Irish welcome, of passion and pride. Oh, and I also should add that both hotels are listed in both Ireland’s blue book and Small Luxury Hotel’s of the World?   And of course there is “the craic” (the good time and the fun).

So, it’s also with great joy, honor and passion I am announcing our Southern Elegance Tour dates are June 14th to 21st 2020! You are in for a treat in a home away from home retreat when you visit Cork, Ireland next summer with Shamrock and Peach Tours.

Slainte!

http://www.shamrockandpeach.com

Judith

Shamrock and Peach

Lightning strikes twice for Rory McIlroy

They say “lightening never strikes the same place twice”, except for Rory McIlroy, who just won his second Fed Ex tour championship in four years!  I was cheering on Sunday’s big win for my Northern Irish homeland and Rory McIlroy!  The FedEx 2019 tour championship was held just a few miles from my Atlanta home at East Lake Golf Club. It’s lovely to see someone from Northern Ireland take home such a triumphant win and be so respected not only professionally but for being an all round great person. The true sizzle to this lightning strike is that Rory takes home the largest payout in golf history… with a cool $15 million!

Much love and Congratulations from the Shamrock and Peach!

Spectacular Scotland

Shamrock and Peach Tours are celebrating our 10th year of being in business with a brand new exciting tour offering, going to the Highlands of Scotland.  We have been working on launching our new Scottish tour for several years now and I cannot say how excited we are with all of our incredible accommodations and all the places we will be seeing. To me, it’s kind of like a bucket list itinerary including luxuries such as staying at the spanking new and fabulous  Kingshouse Hotel in the heart of Glencoe with spectacular mountain views and highland stags roaming around ( this is the place where Jame’s Bond’s famous movie Skyfall was filmed) – and the equally new 5 star Ness Walk Hotel in Inverness, not far from the famous Spey Whisky trail. We’ll also get to visit Rosalyn Chapel, the Kelpies and Holyrood Palace while staying in Edinburgh – all delightful and wonderful sights to see! – We will pack it in, and it will be incredible.

The website is taking bookings for 2021 as our tour for next year has already sold out.  I am very proud of my Irish homeland but Scotland is Spectacular!.  My husband and I did a dry run of our tour earlier this year and I am happy to share just a few of his pretty amazing pictures!

Shamrock and Peach

Judith x

Cracking Good Easter Wishes

Wishing everyone a cracking good Easter as we celebrate today!  Yesterday my friend brought over three day old baby chicks for me to dote over. These new born balls of fluff sat peacefully, although loudly chirping, in my hand as I cradled them.  The chicks are named “true blue and green whitings”, and are to me a symbol sign of new life and new beginnings this Easter morning.  I also got to cook up some freshly laid eggs for breakfast this morning, and we were all so enamored by the beautiful pinks, powder blue and yellow shells.  These chicks really made our family feel like Spring is here after such a rainy cold winter and I hope they bring you hope and joy!

Joy in the Journey

Shamrock and Peach (Judith)

Featured in Irish Country Living!

As a girl, growing up on the farm in County Armagh, we always had a copy of the Irish Farmer’s Journal in our home. My father loved to read all the latest on sheep and cattle whilst my mother loved to read the magazine and all the interesting articles and recipes. It is essential reading to this day, and is for most of the Irish rural families dotted across the green landscape of Ireland, it is a staple of weekend life. A cup of tea, and the copy of Irish Country living

So, it was really an honor for me to be featured last weekend in Irish Country Living, the magazine portion of the newspaper. I was just so pleased with the article and felt it was a true interpretation of my story and just excellent journalism. (Thank you so much Ciara Leacy for truly ‘getting it’)

For my faithful blog followers who have followed me over the  years I hope you enjoy reading my story about the birth of both Shamrock and Peach Foods, and Shamrock and Peach Tours. Here it is..

toot, toot, toot!

Enjoy….

Page one feature story

Page two feature story

Shamrock and Peach

 

Judith x

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)

 

A Voice from the Sea – Ireland is calling

St. Patrick's Call to Ireland

“the voice of the Irish” calling

The Irish sea was a place of terror for young Patrick who had been violently ripped from his family in ancient Roman Britannia by a band of Irish pirates and hauled off to a place that the Romans called Hibernia (meaning – the land of perceptual winter). He worked as a slave in what is now County Antrim in Northern Ireland, but hope was not lost. Through a God inspired dream, Patrick had seen a boat, and his possible means of escape from his years as a slave to Miliucc, the Celtic King of Antrim. This gave Patrick the courage to get up, leave his place of bondage and run away in hope of finding this sought after ‘dream boat’, which he eventually did after many dangerous days of travel through the ancient oak forests of Ireland.

Arriving at the south coast, after a long and difficult journey, Patrick boarded a ship, after convincing the captain to take him with them, and sails to Gaul – modern day France. Once in Gaul, he was back in familiar Roman ground and after sometime managed to find his way back to Britain and his northern home after many years of enslavement and hardship.

For many, this might mark the end of a fateful journey, but for Patrick, it was only the beginning as he encountered another dream where he was called back to the very people who had enslaved him. The story goes that one  night he dreamt that he was visited by an angel called Victorious, holding “countless letters” who hands over the mail to Patrick. As the letter is opened Patrick is stabbed in the heart by a voice near the Western Sea crying “We beg you to come and walk among us once more”. The voice of the Irish, fate was calling…

Our next adventures take us to Downpatrick and the landing of our patron saint back in Ireland that would see him transform from captor to apostle. Stay tuned!

Shamrock and Peach

Judith

Love Chocolate…. continued….

Dreamy Irish Chocolate Desserts

Shamrock and Peach Tours Chocolate dessert memories

It’s almost Valentine’s Day and I am still dreaming of Irish Chocolate! Today I wanted to highlight a few of my favorite chocolate desserts that we had the opportunity to taste and devour last year whilst leading our Shamrock and Peach Tours.

Irish chefs are creating world class chocolate desserts made with chocolate from homegrown Irish companies, which is kind of a new thing. In Ireland, we are known for our wonderfully pure and wholesome dairy products and herds who enjoy a grass fed diet producing milk that is rich, yellow and naturally salted by our clean and pure sea breezes. So, guests who come to Ireland are falling in love with more than just Ireland….. our chocolate alone is worth the Journey!

Yum!

Shamrock and Peach (Judie the Irish Foodie)