Ireland – Land of Saints and Scholars

Monastic Ireland

Cross of the Scriptures

In Ireland’s core you will not only find its oldest pub, but one of its finest early Monastic sites.  The Monastery at Clonmacnoise dates back to AD 544 when St. Ciaran,who studied under St. Finian at Clonard Abbey, founded the site. Considering its central  ancient East/West land route on the banks of the River Shannon you can see why it bloomed during Ireland’s golden age of learning – a ‘land of saints and scholars’.  Many historical manuscripts can be traced to this site with stories of High Kings, ancient feasts and  even whiskey!

The site is peaceful and tranquil today and visible remains include a cathedral, seven churches, two round towers, three high crosses and fascinating grave slabs.  Considering the site has endured attacks from the Irish tribal wars, the Vikings and the Normans it’s a miracle so much still stands today. One of the many hi lights of the site includes ‘the cross of the scriptures’ that is mentioned twice in the annals of the Four Masters.  I cannot help to imagine a time when the Irish could not read or write and they would learn bible stories by the carvings on  the crosses, from the betrayal of Christ to the Crucifixion and the Judgment that is still to come.

Cross of the Scriptures

Founded by St. Ciaran in 544 AD

This Sunday Shamrock and Peach tours will return to walk this ancient site and look forward to sharing this jewel with guests next summer on our Wild Atlantic Way tour.

Joy in the Journey!

Judith

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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!

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

To all Wild Irish Woman everywhere, St. Bridget and Roots of Hospitality

Pouring a Guinness

To Wild Irish Woman everywhere and the story of St. Bridget

Ireland’s legendary hospitality has many roots but on the first day of Spring, February 1st, we remember St. Bridget or Mary of the Gaels.

St. Bridget of Kildare is buried in Downpatrick, County Down beside our St. Patrick, and legend has it that Bridget defied her father, the King at royal matchmaking and gave away food to those in need – not the done thing. This started a life of hospitality, and Bridget would devote herself to giving and loving those all around her with the gracious gift of hospitality. Under a great oak (the sacred tree of the druids) Bridget founded her monastery in Kildare. It was here the sick were tended to, travelers were fed and poets, craftsmen and farmers were welcomed and their trades nurtured. you go girl!

This poem is associated with St. Bridget:

I should like a great lake of finest ale

For the King of Kings.

I should like a table of the choicest food

For the family of heaven.

Let the ale be made from the fruits of faith,

And the food be forgiving love.

So I lift my glass to you St. Bridget for all you have taught us, and may your legacy continue in the hearts of the Irish in every corner of the world! To those who have not visited the shores of Ireland you will find a a hundred thousand welcomes, Cead Mile Failte awaits you!

Shamrock and Peach (Judie the Irish Foodie)

http://www.shamrockandpeach.com

Fall in love with Ireland in 2019

We are delighted to announce next years itinerary release. We strive to hand pick the best accommodations and destinations we can find in Ireland for our guests, and many of you who have been on past tours with Shamrock and Peach, will recognize some of the amazing accommodations in this video.

Next year we are excited to deliver the same Luxury Ireland to our guests from the stunning Antrim Coast to the Dingle Peninsula. North, south, east and west. In our Legendary Ireland tour of the North and West of Ireland where we offer you the 5 star Culloden Hotel and Spa, the 5 star Lough Erne Hotel and Spa and the Luxury Boutique Twelve Hotel in the West, voted the best hotel in Ireland in 2018. On our Southern Ireland tour we offer you Mount Juliet Estate and Spa in Kilkenny and dining at the Mitchell Star Lady Helen restaurant, the 5 Star Castlemartyr Hotel and Spa in Cork with dining at Ballymaloe House, and the fabulous Killarney Royal Hotel, featured in Ireland’s blue book – the gold standard for historic luxury resorts in Ireland.

Please check out our website for more details:

http://www.shamrockandpeach.com

Slainte… we are excited, very excited!

Judith

Shamrock and Peach

 

A tale of two ladies – Juliet & Helen

We are savoring our last few hours at Mount Juliet Estate in Kilkenny, before heading to our next destination, and what an experience it has been! The welcome we received from our arrival has been second to none with a few guests on my tour are telling me they are not leaving this Irish paradise. With it’s elegant Manor house, built in 1757 and the beautiful grounds, stables and gardens, this is a beautiful lady indeed. As is the Michelin star awarded Restaurant, ‘The Lady Helen‘. Our tour group had the chance to dine in the Lady Helen last night, located inside the historic Manor House, and what a lady she is! Each course was better than the last, and yet again I amazed at the sheer inventiveness of Irish cuisine and the flavor of Irish produce, mot of which is produced on this Irish country estate, nestled in 1,500 acres of woodlands and lush gardens.

A big thanks also to Des McGrath another Mount Juliet legend and local character who shared the history of the estate with gusto, graciousness and a sparkle of Irish wit and charm – my guests loved it!  – The one bit of good news is that next week I am returning with a second group and I’m already hungry for more!

Judie the Irish foodie

Lough Erne Legendary Irish Elegance

Words cannot fully describe how we were royally treated at the Lough Erne Resort in Co. Fermanagh last week when our Legendary Irish tour.  We got to experience world class dining and accommodation staying at one of Northern Ireland’s most prestigious 5 Star resort.  Executive head chef and friend Noel McMeel rolled out the red carpet for our guests.  One of the most memorable meal experiences was the recreation of the menu served at the G8 summit.  Our guests got to taste the menu experienced by our world leaders, the very best of Irish cuisine.   Our guests were overwhelmed with the Lough Erne Hospitality  and the way we were treated by the restaurant servers and chefs will be a food memory to last a life time.  We feel so humbled and grateful to the team at the Lough Erne including Chef Noel McMeel and Chef Stephen and would like  to send out a personal applause and thankfulness to them.  This this Sunday I will embark on two back to back tours of Southern Ireland, but before we lunch our new venture I wanted to acknowledge our appreciation of the very best of Northern Irish hospitality!

Joy in the journey!

Judie the Irish Foodie

Foraging Walks and Irish Clovers

Augh….We are in the foodie destination heaven here in the grounds of Ashford Castle and the Lodge at Ashford Castle!  Our group got to steal Chef Jonathan Keane away on Father’s day on a foraging walk of the grounds and tour of the Polytunnels, vegetable and herbs garden.  Lucky for us we also got to dine in the famous Wilde’s restaurant for two evenings and experience the delicious flavors we had tasted, smelt and seen on our walk in a stunning settling, over the waters of Lough Corrib.  So, with full hearts and memories to last a lifetime we are departing Cong as we adventure further North on our Legendary Irish tour! Big thanks to Chef Jonathan and the team at the Lodge for such a brilliant stay yet again….

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