So, coming down to the restaurant, and nearing familiar accents of other people on holiday but recognizing no faces, is sort of difficult. As my wife can attest, I am a people person and the more the merrier in my opinion.
This year’s tour was one of the best and not only do I feel that our tours have become better and more unique in the way we present Ireland to our fans, I also feel our fans are so wonderful and full of a desire to celebrate life.
Whether it was Rick passing around the bottle of Powers as we rolled through Donegal, or Rusty showing us his new Voyageur guitar, or admiring the stamina of Mary who challenges MS every day and not once complained or demanded extra attention, or getting to know the Grant family (who also had a little one on the way to boot), our fans are extremely special and good people.
I feel the Ireland tour is also a wonderful gift to Brian and myself. We get to spend time with fans on a very intimate "trip of a lifetime.” We are inspired and enjoy seeing our fans experience Ireland for the first time. It is comparable to seeing kids opening presents on Christmas and reveling in the excitement of watching their reaction upon finding something new. It truly is a great experience and I am honored I get to share that with our fans.
And I can relate to Mick and Dave who must, after years under their belts of driving people around Ireland, still are able to communicate the joy and beauty of being Irish as if they were on their first tour. They are the true ambassadors of Ireland and they are amazing artists in their own right. What they are able to do is as skillful as a surgeon wielding a blade and requires as much or more education to completely understand the history, flora and fauna and people of Ireland. They also must cater to the needs of 70 people, hotel managers, restaurateurs and speed cameras. Imagine if your surgeon met you at the door, got you to your room, fed you, explained the procedure, called your family, ordered your meals and then performed surgery while telling you a ghost story. Then that surgeon made sure you were properly squared away with your insurance, wheeled you to your car and then thanked you for visiting his hospital. You start to get the idea of what these artists do. They alone are worth the trip. What they do may not be lifesaving, but at the very least soul-enhancing. Amazing, good men.
Next year’s trip is already being planned with a return to Mayo and our "WayGood Ireland" headquarters of Westport (though some are leaning toward Kinsale getting that honor as of late!). We will make some discoveries together, stay at some relaxing hotels and castles, dine on some wonderful Irish cuisine and listen to the music of Switchback presented in our Irish home. We also will be offering a "dessert tour" of a jaunt over to Scotland for three or four days after the Ireland tour ends. That way, we can savor our time together just a wee bit more like a fine single malt whiskey. Details and registration are through Susan Sheehan at Celtic Tours. If this year is any indication, get in touch with her as soon as you can to reserve a place. See you next year in Ireland, Traveling down an Irish Road!
~ Marty McCormack