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June 17th

Well friends, our Ireland tour starts here and we are off on another adventure…sort of.

We were scheduled to fly to Dublin by way of JFK on Delta Air Lines which arrives at 9am tomorrow. Once we were here in the Sky Club, I got a notification that our flight to JFK had been delayed so much that we would miss the connection. I immediately went to the Sky Club help desk and we went into problem solving mode. Nico is flying on my miles but isn’t in my reservation since he’s flying home with my parents. That means that we need to book two seats separately. This became a major problem as everyone else on that JFK flight was trying to rebook as well. The agent would see two seats but by the time she’d rebooked one of us, the other seat was gone.

ireland tour flight details

The fantastic agent, Allyson, patiently combed through connections and I did the same with my phone, looking for some sort of plan to get us there. To absolutely nobody’s surprise, all flights to Europe are super full these days. Through some creating searching on both of our parts, we pieces together something that may work. Delta to AMS, and then an Aer Lingus flight to connect. I had no idea Aer Lingus is a Delta partner, that would have been good to know ahead of time. We don’t have seats assigned, but we have “Seat Requests” which is a good thing?? We have to go to the gate and ask if there are seats for us. We will get there when we get there, but I huge thank you to that wonderful agent who worked so hard on our behalf. Delta is good that way.

Lessons learned from this?

?ALWAYS make sure your travel companion is on the same reservation. That would have saved us time.

?Go talk to an agent immediately if you get a delay notice to see how that will affect connections

?Work the problem along with the agent, while they look at alternatives, pull up google flights and find others for the agent to try. Teamwork!

?The Sky Club is so worth it, and you can get it by getting an airline credit card. Without the dedicated agents in here, this would have been much more frustrating.

?Always be KIND. It’s not the fault of anyone, it’s just bad luck, and you’ll get all the help you need if you’re nice to the staff and don’t vent your frustrations on them.

sarah and nico at the airport before ireland tour

Ireland Tour Day 1 – June 19th

Day 1 in Dublin included a visit to the Guinness Brewery.

June 20th

We moved on from Dublin today, off to the gorgeous countryside. Along the way to Killarney, we stopped at the famous (and windy) Rock of Cashel, where it is said Saint Patrick himself once preached. Have a look around with me and my friend of many years, Stephen McPhilemy. You can find Stephen over at Essential Ireland Tours.

June 21st

Anyone up for a jaunt in a Jaunting Car? Today in Killarney, Stephen arranged a wonderful ride through Ireland’s largest national park in a traditional carriage. The drivers were delightful and full of stories, and the scenery was beautiful. If you’re looking for a mental health break today, take 9 minutes to be transported to the Irish countryside.

June 22nd

Our Ireland tour with my friend Stephen McPhilemy continues to be a delight. We are now in Dingle, where Stephen has welcomed us at his hotel, Milltown House, Dingle. We had a home cooked dinner, live music, and a solstice bonfire last night. Today, we did a fun walk through town and then had free time to explore.

Here are a few shots from the past days. My parents are having a blast, and my dad is just delighted to have a new crowd to tell his jokes to. The weather has been fantastic (for Ireland) and the group is lovely—this Ireland tour sold out in 30 minutes and has almost all AwS tour alums, some with more than 10 of my tours under their belts. It’s truly like a big family adventure.

June 23rd

Today we did a drive around Slea Head, which they call the Wild Atlantic Way these days. Come along to feed a lamb and fly a falcon, plus some singing!

June 25th

We took our group up north from Galway, to the Connemara. Along the way, we stopped in Cong, which is known for being the filming location for John Wayne’s “The Quiet Man”—a huge favorite of my dad’s. A short walk out of the village is an outrageous castle, Ashford, that was once owned by the Guinness family. Movie stars and royalty have stayed there, so we stopped for tea and Stephen walked me around the castle. Come along and have a peek…

June 26th

Our Irish adventure has finally made it to the most important part: my dad’s return to the North.

Northern Ireland is considered a separate country in a way, as it is ruled by the British and uses Pounds. There is no border between North and Ireland, just a change in how the roads are painted and a lack of Irish language on the signage. The vibe, however, is different.

The history is very complicated but to sum it up, the Irish clans in the north lost a big battle in the early 1600’s, defeated by the English who sent the Irish (Catholics) in this part of the island to live on the poorest pieces of land and gave good lands to English or Scottish settlers—who also happened to be Protestant.

That forced coexistence for the past 400 years hasn’t been easy, and is the reason that I myself am an Irish citizen. Murdoch is a Scots name, after all. We Murdochs can trace our family back to 1700 in the same wee village.

The conflict between the native Irish and the transplants goes deeper than religion, even if religion is how everyone characterizes it. It’s also cultural, with grievances passed from generation to generation. The worst conflicts in recent memory were within my lifetime. As a kid, I remember people thinking we were crazy to go up North, it was too dangerous!

Derry is a good city to visit to educate yourself about “The Troubles.” This city has struggled with division and violence, but was also the scene of a peace process that has endured. In my house, we are fans of Derry Girls, which is an enjoyable way to get a grasp of the conflicts in the 90’s, so we were thrilled to find a monument to them as well.

When my dad was a kid, the North was the prosperous part of Ireland. British rule brought industry. But when I visited my uncles in the early 2000’s, they lamented how that had turned upside down. The tech boom and attractive business policies in the South had drained the North. It definitely feels different here.

If you ask me (and nobody asked me so ignore if you like) Ireland should be whole. A United Ireland would be a beautiful thing.

The Irish problem matters, not only because it’s still simmering but because it has created a roadmap to peace for other conflicts.

I’m proud that my tours visit places like Derry. We all become better world citizens when we seek understanding.

June 28th

Our first Ireland tour is wrapped up, but don’t worry, I have load of videos and photos left to share and we are planning more of them. Pop over to Youtube to see a few more shorts to get a feel for the Irish fun that was had. In the meantime, look how Ireland said goodbye to my guests!

AWS Staff

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