Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Experience Ireland or Travel Ireland

I have served my guiding and teaching services to several wonderful groups this year. The last two groups I have served were wonderful examples of the experiential vacations that I had dreamed the Celtic Ways tours would become.


One group was a writer's group, mainly same sex partner women. I feel honoured that they hired myself, a male guide.

The group I have just said farewell to included several McDonald's, yes the burger chain, executives.
These folks were incredible and truly entered into the spirit of experiencing Ireland through space rather than distance.


Forming itineraries has been a challenge.

To folks within the USA and Australia, Ireland seems like a dot on the atlas and can create the impression that travelling from coast to coast is commuting. For example, one person asked me if they could do The Burren in the morning, do the Connemara in the afternoon and perhaps have lunch on one of the Arran Isles in the middle.

Individuals and couples are more mobile and will cover more of Ireland in a day than a group
..... but the group experience is a powerful one and a wonderful gateway for experiencing the spirit of this land.

For a wonderful group experience I have found it has worked best to focus on a single special sacred site, preferably hidden and private, in the morning and another single site in the afternoon. Extra sites can be visited as a standby, but I now believe these are best left out of the published itinerary.

However, presenting an itinerary in advance that shows few sites being visited, and mostly sites that people have never heard of, can falsely indicate that there is lack of value in the tour package.

Experience more valuable than travel?

Most inquirers ask me if we can visit popular tourist guide sites such as Newgrange, Cliffs Of Moher, Glendalough, Carrowmore, Giant’s Causeway, and Rock of Cashel. Some people provide me of a list of around 30 to 40 places they wish to visit during a 7 day vacation, but few really have the energy to visit even half of their sites list. In Ireland we do not have freeways with off-ramps between sites. It takes time and beautiful scenery seen from winding narrow roads between sites. 

This is a formula that seems to work very well for us.

a)  On arrival to a site, I introduce the group to the site explaining its origin, how it was used and a story or two. This now usually lasts for no more than 5 minutes.

b)  Members of the group explore the site themselves in their own way and form their own interpretations and connections

c)  Group leader, or teacher, or myself if none is present gathers the group together to share their interpretations of the site and feelings while present there. The leader often improvises a planned teaching, ritual, ceremony, game, prayers or meditation to synthesize with these interpretations and connections.

d)  Group members perform their own private farewell, and sometimes an offering, before leaving a site.

Sometimes I swap a) and b) around.
This lets folks discover a site and share their feelings before I say anything. Court cairns are great for this.


Travel & Space

Our tour connects very intimately with nature, traditions of ancestors and even with each other, but why not add to this and have a wonderful all round Ireland vacation on several levels.


For a good all round Ireland vacation I recommend, in this order


1) A day, maybe two days, to relax, catch up with time, adjust from your time zone to the Ireland time zone. This is a good time to disconnect from the intense and even stressed preparations for coming to Ireland.


2) Between 3 and 6 days to join our guided Veil Between Two Worlds experience of Ireland’s nature spirit and ancient traditions. This will aim to restore your spirit and feel the purpose of “vacation”.


3) Hire a car, or we can arrange cheuffered tour (we do this too!) to tour the tourist boardwalk of sites like The Burren, Cliffs Of Moher, Connemara, Ring Of Kerry, Glendalough etc., and onto shopping sprees in beautiful towns like Kenmare, Tipperary, Westport, Kilkenny and others.


If you go to my web site and follow the “Veil Between Two Worlds” links you will find the pages have an inquiry email utility. Do please use these to let me know of the dates you plan to be in Ireland and ask how we may help you to enjoy a wonderful true vacation here.  


 

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