A quiet thread of melancholy hovered over me as I made my way to breakfast on the last morning of my Clare-Conemara-Galway tour. And even though I’m glad to be home and see my family again, I’ve left a large piece of me behind in Ireland.
I’ll have to return some day to visit it.
This eight-day tour by Wild West Irish Tours has been a great experience for me. Not only did it afford me a chance to return to the home of my heart, it also offered me an opportunity to share the experience with everyone, which was such fun! I learned so much about history, about the myths and legends of this magical land. I’ve taken pages of notes on all sorts of different aspects of Ireland. And I’ve been greatly inspired.
“What was your favorite part of the trip?” I know, once I’m home, that someone is bound to ask me that question. I also know I won’t be able to give them any real answer.
Because all of the trip was my favorite! The bed-and-breakfasts where we stayed were warm and charming, with friendly hosts and great food. Our guide, Derek, was the personification of Irish hospitality, always good-natured, always willing to answer any of the questions with which I constantly plagued him. (Thanks, Derek!)
Each day of the trip offered something that I could classify as “favorite.” My trip to Cragganowen was fascinating, and gave me lots of background on the Ireland of the Bronze Age. I loved Bunratty Castle, and walking through the magnificent rooms offered much research for my Medieval/Fantasy series. Viewing Ashford Castle from the waters of Lough Corrib was a delight to the eyes, and being able to travel the locations of The Quiet Man and The Field was like a little piece of Hollywood glam. And seeing swans gliding over the Cong River was icing on the cake.
We did so many other amazing things — the ferry ride to Inis Oirr, the turf cutting demonstration, seeing the Cliffs of Moher from O’Brien’s Tower. Too many delights to count! But it truly wasn’t just the big things that made an impression. For me, the little things counted for just as much.
On a long, incredibly beautiful drive back to the B&B one afternoon, we passed a sign for Lisdoonvarna, home of a matchmaking festival each September. Since my novels are romances, naturally I began speculating about the fate of the couples the matchmaker had paired up over the years. That led to lots of speculation and the germ of an idea formed: an anthology of love stories centered around a matchmaking festival! Everyone seemed almost as enthusiastic about the idea as I was, and I’m seriously considering pitching it to my editor. And yes, Derek, I did promise you’d be the matchmaker!
On another such drive, fellow Wild Westie Tom pointed out the hemlock blooming along the roadside. Hemlock, of course, is a deadly poison, and that led to a lively discussion of poisons and how they might be used. There was some speculation here, too, as to why I was so interested in the subject, but I assured them that my Medieval/Fantasy series needed a witch who would, of course, know all about these things. (I’m really not planning on killing anyone off myself!)
As one spectacular view melted into another, I found myself dreaming aloud about that cottage I’d love to build somewhere in Ireland. It became somewhat of a joke, with Derek suggesting I could create a construction boom across Ireland with all of them!
I don’t believe this would have happened on a big bus tour. From what I’ve heard from friends and family who’ve taken them, they keep to a strict schedule, rarely deviating from it to let some shutterbug stop along a road to snap a few shots of a breathtaking landscape or an exquisite seascape. Instead, Wild West Irish Tours, which take a maximum of eight travellers in a comfortable van, offers a chance for everyone to get to know everyone else and become friends (I’m still Facebook friends with two of the three Wild Westies from my Heart of the Wild West Signature Tour last year). Intimacy at its best!
My Wild West Irish Tour offered me friendship, fun, myths and legends; history, spirituality, music, unforgettable scenery, and most of all, inspiration. Everything I could have asked for in one nine-day package.
And as I leave Ireland with memories that will last a lifetime, I do it in the knowledge that, when I return, it will be with Wild West Irish Tours, the best tours on the planet!
Farewell, my beloved Ireland, until we meet again.
From the Wild West of Ireland,
Wild Westie Cynthia Owens
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