Travel Expert and Radio Talk Show Host Stephanie Abrams - Travelers411 Travel Radio showNotes
"Travelers411" Radio Show - August 15, 2009 - Show Archive

The Chief Whip and Minister to the Taoiseach; Milwaukee Irish Fest 2009; County Clare Tourists Council; B&B Ireland; The Pfister Hotel and the InterContinental Milwaukee Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; the Trident Hotel in Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland; Irish Hotels Federation based in Dublin, Ireland; Cuimheamh an Chlair, the Oral History and Folklore Group.

Listen to the show in Windows Media Format:     hour1     hour2

Listen to the show in MP3 Format:     hour1     hour2

Hour 1

Topics Include:

Stephanie is broadcasting live from the classically elegant Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “Travelers411” is in Milwaukee for Irish Fest 2009. Minister of the State for the Department of the Taoiseach, Patrick Carey, says that the festival is a “truly unique event”. He compares the musical line-up at Irish Fest to the Glastonbury Festival in England. However, in addition to extensive entertainment, Irish Fest places an important emphasis on Irish culture and heritage. Minister Carey says that it is “a great mix of good music, good fun and exchange of ideas”.

The Pfister Hotel, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The Pfister Hotel, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Stephanie's first visit to Irish Fest was in 2008. Trad on the Prom performed, a band that Stephanie saw again recently in Galway during the arrival of the Volvo Ocean Race Fleet. The concert grounds at Irish Fest have 16 stages of continuous entertainment. People of all ages gather including thousands of professional dancers and musicians. The celebration resonates with audience members that are 4th, 5th and even 6th generation Irish-Americans.

Concert at the Volvo Ocean Race Galway Stopover
Concert at the Volvo Ocean Race Galway Stopover.

Minister Carey recently met Tommy Sands (a musician and leading Irish folklorist) at the University of Milwaukee Summer Sessions. Sands was a personal acquaintance of Tommy Makem who recorded albums with the Clancy Brothers in the 1960's. Makem and the Clancy Brothers appeared on popular American television programs like Ed Sullivan and the Tonight Show. Tommy Sands will be playing in Lincoln Center in late August.

Aer Lingus is also present at the festival and is promoting some unbelievable airfares. Those who book travel between October and Christmas can get fares for as little as $199 USD one way. There are also some great deals on accommodations and attractions within the country. Minister Carey says that some high end resorts such as Mount Juliet Resort, the K Club (home of the 2006 Ryder Cup) Ashford castle and Adare Manor are offering very reasonable rates. There is a whole range of things to do relatively cheaply including golfing. Carey recommends any of the Killarney courses.

Ireland and the US have a special bridge of friendship and support that has been solidified by the recent economic slump. Ireland encourages countries all over the world to work together on economics, industry and general innovation. The country has a population of eight million people and has one of the most open economies in the world. It exports 80 percent of what it produces. It has a flexible workforce and many Irish PhD students complete their doctorates in the US.

The Blarney Castle, home to the Blarney Stone.
The Blarney Castle, home to the Blarney Stone.

Carey says that there is still an undiscovered Ireland, particularly in the north. Attractions in Ireland include Giants Causeway, the Mourne Mountains, the glens in County Antrim, the Ring of Kerry, and the Killarney area, Kenmare Bay, the Blarney Stone in Cork, the Wicklow Mountains and the vibrant city of Dublin. There are over 247 different nationalities on the island. Minister Carey says “the strengths that we have (as a country) will bring us through the difficulties”.

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The former Mayor of Ennistymon, County Clare, Ireland, Flan Garvey joins “Travelers411”. It is Garvey's 8th year in attendance at the festival. He is the founder of the Clare Tourism Conference which Stephanie was present for in 2008. Garvey states that a great advantage to visiting county Clare is that you can visit Clare anytime of the year. He says “we can't guarantee the sun but we can guarantee you won't experience an extreme in hot or cold”. Hiking, walking, fishing, golfing, boating and cycling are all year-round activities. County Clare boasts the Cliffs of Moher, the country's rugged west coast, the River Shannon (which extends as far as Galway), Aillwee Caves and a plethora of ancient castles. There are also many events held at the various attractions such as the ongoing Bunratty Medieval Banquets.

Bunratty, County Claire
Bunratty, County Claire, Ireland.

Flan Garvey states that Clare is “a county with a bit of everything”. Typical business for Irish tourism is honeymoon travel. Ireland is famed for its hospitality as “it is the people that bring you back to a place”. The Clare Tourism Conference features a series of distinguished speakers. There is always great representation from Northern Ireland and a continuing focus on the peace work. There are also many visiting from out of country such as representatives from Clare's twin cities in Italy and Greece.

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B&B Ireland is a Town and Country Homes Association in Ireland that provides the best bed and breakfast accommodations in the country. The network has over 35 years of experience. Stephanie states that there is a big difference between the bed and breakfasts in the US and those in Ireland. B&B's in the US can sometimes be as upscale as hotels and costly but the B&B's in Ireland are an absolute bargain.

Guests are welcomed by the homeowner with coffee and scones. The family shows the visors the local attractions including restaurants and pubs. The average nightly room rate is $40 per person. Breakfast, and sometimes dinner, is included in the cost.

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Fun Facts:

The role of Taoiseach is that of a prime minister. In the Irish language it refers to a chief or leader of a clan.

Guests Include:

Patrick Carey, Minister of State, Department of the Taoiseach (with special responsibility as Government Chief Whip).

Flan Garvey, Chairperson, Clare Tourist Council. Founder, Clare Tourism Conference, County Clare,  Ireland.

Louise McGee, Senior Marketing Executive, B&B Ireland.

Hour 2

Topics Include:

Link to this segment

“Travlers411” continues its broadcast from the Psfister. Stephanie had breakfast in the hotel's historic Rouge dining room and she said the experience was like sitting in a greenhouse. The Pfister Hotel was built in 1893 and recently finished as series of major renovations. Work was done on the Rouge Ball Room as well as all of the guest rooms. Joe Kurth, the General Manager of the hotel, says that “this Grand Dame is showing as good as she ever has”.

Conference Room at the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Conference Room at the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Kurth remarks that countless customers have said that they didn't realize that Milwaukee is such a beautiful city. It is easily accessible from all parts of the US. The Amtrak station is five blocks from the Pfister. It is only a ninety minute Amtrak ride from Milwaukee to Union Station in Chicago. The station was recently renovated and is adjacent to the newly constructed Harley Davidson Museum which opened in the summer of 2008.

The Pfister is partnered with the Milwaukee Art Museum which is situated on Wisconsin Avenue. Milwaukee Art Museum members receive discounted rates at the hotel and there are several other packages available that combine the art gallery experience at the Pfister and that at the Milwaukee Art Museum. The museum is a signature building in the city. It has a distinct sunshade (brise soleil) that was designed by Spanish architect/engineer Santiago Calatravade in 2000. The wing-like fins open and close throughout the afternoon (literally “flap”) and close down for nightfall. The Pfister and the art museum are two of Milwaukee's most recognizable buildings and stand out when viewed from the river.

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General Manager of the InterContinental Milwaukee Tim Smith joins “Travlers411”. Stephanie was served a meal of crab cakes at the InterContinental's restaurant. She states that is was on par with her crab dining experiences in the Chesapeake Bay area. The restaurant also features a chocolate bar with delicacies such as chocolate covered bacon.

The InterContinental Milwaukee also had extensive renovations done in recent history. Tim Smith states that it is “a hotel that compliments the city”. There are a total of 220 guestrooms including 16 suites.

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The Trident Hotel, located in Kinsale, is neatly tucked away on County Cork's shoreline. It is 20 miles from Cork City and only 13 miles from Cork Airport. Hal McElroy, Managing Director for Trident Hotel, says that locals affectionately call the airport the “Kinsale Airport” much to the disgust of Cork City's inhabitants.

Cork City
Cork City, Ireland.

As a harbor town Kinsale had an important history as a port. It was a major port of call for those on their way to the Americas as people got their final provisions for travel before setting sail across the Atlantic. Kinsale is a popular destination for visitors within Ireland as well as for travelers from the UK and the US. It is especially popular for sailing and shark fishing. The pastime of sailing is in keeping with Kinsale's ties to its sister city of Newport, Rhode Island.

Kinsale has been dubbed the gourmet capital of Ireland because of the concentration of many fantastic restaurants. It is also recognized for its colored houses. Towns in Cork often have houses painted vibrant colors. This was done so that the homes could be seen more easily from the sea. The use of certain colors distinguishes each port town.

The Trident Hotel has 75 guestrooms each with a view of Kinsale Harbor. The most spectacular room is the hotel's Harbor Suite.

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The Trident Hotel is part of the Irish Hotels Federation based in Dublin. Lisa Kearney, Marketing Executive for the organization, joins “Travelers411”. The IHF acts as a lobbying group for hoteliers much in the way a union might.  Hotels pay a subscription and the Federation provides advisement on business and marketing.

Stephanie is a member of the Boston chapter of SKAL the International Association of Travel and Tourism. SKAL puts out guidelines and directives for hoteliers in an effort to protect travelers from illness. In Ireland the HSC (Health and Social Care) services run the hospice and issue health advisories to the Irish Hotels Federation. The IHF in turn advises their clients.

Bar in Bunratty
Old Pub, Bunratty, County Clare, Ireland.

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Stephanie learned of a Dooley Vacations package that included roundtrip airfare from NYC or Boston, a car rental and bed and breakfast stays for the week, for $299 USD per person. “You can't afford to stay home”.

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Tomas Mac Conmara, Project Coordinator for Cuimheamh an Chláir, The Clare Oral History and Folklore Group, states that “all the cultural characteristics that define Ireland can be found in County Clare”. Clare contains some of the most famous examples of Ireland's physical phenomena and natural beauty but it also has the “intangible Irish heritage”. It is the culture that binds Irish-Americans to Ireland. Gaelic games, Irish language, and traditional music are all dimensions that are extremely strong in Clare. Visitors can expect all the elements of Irish culture. The Cliffs of Moher, the Burren and Lough Derg are all famous attractions but Conmara also advises travelers to go to the small villages to experience authentic Ireland.

Aillwee Caves
Inside Aillwee Cave, County Clare.

Fun Facts:

County Cork comprises approximately an 8th of Ireland a large portion of which is shoreline.

Guests Include:

Joe Kurth, General Manager, The Pfister Hotel, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Tim Smith, General Manager, InterContinental Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Hal McElroy, Managing Director, Trident Hotel, World's End, Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland.

Lisa Kearney, Marketing Executive, Irish Hotels Federation, Dublin, Ireland.

Tomas Mac Conmara, Project Coordinator, Cuimheamh an Chláir, The Clare Oral History and Folklore Group, County Clare, Ireland.

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