Travel Expert and Radio Talk Show Host Stephanie Abrams - Travelers411 Travel Radio Shownotes
"Travelers411" Radio Show - May 15, 2010 - Show Archive

Exploring Solis Lough Eske Castle in County Donegal, Ireland; Foxford Woollen Mills Excursion in County Mayo, Ireland; The Blackrock Castle Observatory, Blackrock , Co.Cork; A Visit with Kilronan Castle, Ballyfarnon, County Roscommon, Ireland.

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Hour 1

Topics Include:

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Andrew Turner, General Manager, Solis Lough Eske Castle, Donegal Town, County Donegal, Ireland.
www.solislougheskecastle.ie

Click here to listen to Andrew Turner, General Manager, Solis Lough Eske Castle, Donegal Town, County Donegal, Ireland.  www.solislougheskecastle.ie interviewed by Stephanie Abrams without commercials.
Listen to this segment, commercial-free featuring: Andrew Turner from Solis Lough Eske Castle.

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams has taken the "Travel With Stephanie Abrams!" Radio Show to Ireland, where she talks to Andrew Turner, General Manager of the Solis Lough Eske Castle luxury hotel in County Donegal, Ireland.

Andrew Turner
Ireland; Donegal; Solis Lough Eske Castle; Andrew Turner General Manager; Radio Broadcast.

Stephanie has just arrived in Ireland and feels like she's "stepped into a storybook." County Donegal, in the northwest corner of Ireland, reminds Stephanie of the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, except that it also has "beautiful ocean."

Donegal Street Sign.
Donegal Street Sign.

Solis Lough Eske Castle opened in December 2007 and had a great year in 2009, especially from the wedding standpoint, says Andrew Turner. The castle was just recognized by Weddings Online as the best wedding venue in Ireland. "It's really a fairy tale venue," Andrew explains. "From the minute they arrive at the estate on the lake, brides fall in love with it, so it's an easy sell." Solis Lough Eske sits on 44 acres of land and is reached by a 3 kilometer driveway that winds through the forest.

Solis Lough Eske Castle.
Solis Lough Eske Castle.

Solis Lough Eske wasn't always at its current 5-star level, Andrew says. Before it was redeveloped into the first 5-star hotel in County Donegal, the castle was a ruin. After just 15 months of construction, the castle opened as a luxury hotel.

Solis Lough Eske Castle Hotel.
A beautiful suite in the original castle section of Solis Lough Eske Castle Hotel.

Andrew recommends Solis Lough Eske Castle to visitors who want to see an untouched corner of Ireland that's different from the usual tourist route. "The biggest draw is County Donegal, which has so much to offer," he says. "There are beaches, hiking, biking, fishing, golfing, and other outdoor activities just minutes from the hotel." The hotel itself offers a spa and health and physical fitness facilities.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1481

For more information visit http://www.solislougheskecastle.ie


Link to this segment

Joe Queenan, Managing Director, Foxford Woollen Mills, Foxford, Co. Mayo, Ireland.
www.woollenmills.ie

The town of Foxford is centrally located within County Mayo, Ireland. The Foxford Wollen Mills are one of to the area's top historical attractions. Founded in 1892 by the Sisters of Charity in response the area's poverty, the mills were designed to provide employment to locals. Today there remains a working wollen mill where rugs, blankets and tweed clothing are weaved and finished under one roof.  The products that are made at the mills are intended to reflect the colors of western Ireland.

Joe Queenan, Managing Director, Foxford Woollen Mills, Foxford, Co. Mayo, Ireland (R) and Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams (L).
Joe Queenan, Managing Director, Foxford Woollen Mills, Foxford, Co. Mayo, Ireland (R) and Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams (L).

The Foxford Woollen Mills Visitors Centre includes a self-guiding interactive tour which tells the story of the history of Foxford and an on-site tour of the working mills. In addition to the historical presentation, the Woollen Mills have 25,000 square feet of retail space as well as a restaurant and cafe which offers home-baked food. There is a master jeweler on site as well as two art galleries. The An Grianan Gallery focuses on the work of local artists. The Foxford Woollen Mills is open to visitors 12 months a year, 10am to 6pm Monday through Saturday.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1567

For more information visit http://www.woollenmills.ie/


Guests Include:

Andrew Turner, General Manager, Solis Lough Eske Castle, Donegal Town, County Donegal, Ireland.
www.solislougheskecastle.ie

Joe Queenan, Managing Director, Foxford Woollen Mills, Foxford, Co. Mayo, Ireland.
www.woollenmills.ie

Hour 2

Topics Include:

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams reminds listeners to book car rentals early. Thanks to the economic downturn, there are concerns about a rental car shortage in Ireland in summer 2010, and Stephanie doesn't want travelers to be left without wheels.

Aherne's Restaurant
Ireland; Youghal; County Cork; Aherne's Restaurant; Lodging.

Listeners considering a trip to Europe should also buy euros now, says Stephanie. The dollar is high, and buying currency in advance can make a trip that much cheaper.


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Clair McSweeney, Facilities Manager, Blackrock Castle Observatory, Blackrock , Co.Cork, ireland.
www.bco.ie

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travel With Stephanie Abrams!” Radio Show look to the stars with Clair McSweeney, Facilities Manager at the Blackrock Castle Observatory in Cork, Ireland.

Black Rock Observatory.
Black Rock Observatory.

Blackrock Castle was built 400 years ago as a fortified watchtower. It looks down on the River Lee where the river narrows on its entrance to the city of Cork. As an observatory today, Blackrock is in the "beautiful position of a watchtower for the 21st century,” says Clair.

Black Rock Observatory.
Black Rock Observatory.

Blackrock Castle Observatory is run by a partnership between the Cork City Council and Cork Institute of Technology (CIT). "The castle is owned by the city council, so it really belongs to the people of Cork and of Ireland,” Clair says. The Cork City Council originally intended to sell the castle, but a letter from a CIT professor convinced the council to turn it into an observatory instead.

Black Rock Observatory.
Black Rock Observatory.

The observatory is open 7 days a week, 363 days a year. There are events both at night and during the day, making the facility "a very special place for people from many walks of life,” Clair explains, from school groups to researchers.

Blackrock features the award-winning Cosmos at the Castle exhibit. Visitors walk through its 4 large screens, controlling the visuals with interactive posts. The exhibit tells the story of life in the universe and describes the search for alien life.

Max's Winebar in County Corrk.
Max's Winebar in County Corrk.

The observatory is also home to several CIT researchers. Visitors can examine different research projects on everything from quasars to data compression. (Telescopes generate a huge volume of data every night.) There's also a 16-inch robotic telescope on the roof, as part of a CIT research project.

"Visitors can participate in workshops, appreciate the work of researchers, and see how these studies translate to industry,” Clair says. Stephanie agrees, adding that the exhibits are "amazing” and interactive.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1503

For more information visit http://www.bco.ie


Link to this segment

Michelle Coghlan, General Manager, Kilronan Castle, Ballyfarnon, County Roscommon, Ireland.
www.kilronancastle.ie

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams talks with Michelle Coghlan, General Manager of the Kilronan Castle Estate and Spa in County Roscommon, Ireland, on the "Travel With Stephanie Abrams!” Radio Show.

Michelle Coghlan
Radio broadcast guest Michelle Coghlan Resident Manager.

Kilronan Castle Estate and Spa is in Ballyfarnon, County Roscommon, and overlooks Lough Meelagh. "There's beautiful scenery all around. The lakes and mountains and trees are just breathtaking,” says Michelle, adding, "We're in the lakelands region, so it's great for boating, fishing, and water sports.”

Executive Chef Rory Gabriel
Radio broadcast guest Executive Chef Rory Gabriel.

In the 18th century, Kilronan was an estate owned by the Tennyson family, members of the English gentry. Over the years, the estate was divided up. The resort currently sits on 49 acres of land. Kilronan Castle was developed into a hotel and spa by the Hanley Group. When work started five years ago, says Michelle, the castle was a crumbling ruin, with sheep grazing in the middle and trees growing through its rooms.

Kilronan Castle Estate
Ireland Kilronan Castle Estate and Spa,Ballyfarnon,County Roscommon.

Since its opening two years ago, Kilronan has "gone from strength to strength,” says Michelle. The estate currently has 84 guest rooms, including 18 bedrooms in the original castle, a "fantastic” ballroom that can cater to up to 400 people, and a "fabulous” spa. The spa has 10 treatment rooms and includes a thermal suite and relaxation area, hydrotherapy and vitality pools, a full-size swimming pool, and gym and leisure facilities. Guests can enjoy gourmet dining in the Douglas Hyde Restaurant or a quiet drink in the drawing room bar. "There's something for everyone here,” Michelle promises.

Kilronan Castle Estate
Ireland Kilronan Castle Estate and Spa,Ballyfarnon,County Roscommon.

Stephanie is amazed by the marriage of old and new. "When you approach the estate, there is no evidence that it's anything but an historic site,” she exclaims. Michelle explains that they've tried to match the interior decor in addition to blending the old and new exteriors. "We've kept very much to the old style, with rich red, gold, and blue colors, beautiful old-fashioned furniture, en suite [bathrooms], and lots of space,” she says.

Harp and traditional music
Harp and traditional music in the drawing room for Castle guests.

Stephanie has also noticed the woodwork, which looks antique but was added during the most recent renovations. "The Hanleys had excellent craftsmen,” Michelle agrees. "They wanted it to look like the original castle, and they've done a superb job.”

Michelle adds that Kilronan Castle is a wonderful place for a wedding or function, whether your party is large or small. The ballroom is very flexible and can accommodate as few as 100 people and as many as 400 people.

Kilronan Castle Ballyfarnon
Ireland County Roscommon Kilronan Castle Ballyfarnon Lough Meelagh.

She suggests that guests make time to visit Kilronan Castle's sister property, Lough Rynn, a 30 minute drive away, and promises that a stay at Kilronan won't break the bank. For a midweek stay, bed and breakfast rates start at 89 euros, which is about $125-130 US.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1505

For more information visit http://www.kilronancastle.ie


Travel Tips:

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams recommends that visitors stop at Blackrock Castle Observatory in Cork and continue to the Cobh Heritage Centre and Kinsale, Ireland's gourmet capital.


Fun Facts:

From Stephanie's tour of the Jameson Distillery: Mash from the whiskey is often sold to local farmers as cattle feed. That's why the cows are so happy and Irish butter tastes so good!


Guests Include:

Clair McSweeney, Facilities Manager, Blackrock Castle Observatory, Blackrock , Co.Cork, ireland.
www.bco.ie

Michelle Coghlan, General Manager, Kilronan Castle, Ballyfarnon, County Roscommon, Ireland.
www.kilronancastle.ie

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