Travel Expert and Radio Talk Show Host Stephanie Abrams - Travelers411 Travel Radio Shownotes
"Travelers411" Radio Show - May 22, 2010 - Show Archive

Irish Humor With Author and Actor Malachy McCourt; Visiting the "Sporting City" at The Strand Hotel, Limerick, Ireland; The Center for the Constitution at James Madison's Montpelier, Orange, Virginia, USA; The Inns at Montpelier Association, Orange, Virginia, USA; The Inn at Westwood Farm, Orange, Virginia; Airfares from CheapOAir.

Listen to the show in Windows Media Format:     hour1     hour2

Listen to the show in MP3 Format:     hour1     hour2

Hour 1

Topics Include:

Link to this segment

Malachy McCourt, Author and Actor, Born in Brooklyn, NY and raised in Limerick, Ireland.
www.malachymccourt.com

Malachy McCourt, Author, Actor, and Humorist, returns to the "Travelers411" Radio Show to share some Irish spirit with Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams. He previously appeared on the February 28, 2010 "Travel WITH Stephanie Abrams!" radio Show. Soap opera fans will recognize Malachy as the bartender on "Ryan's Hope" and Father Clarence on "All My Children." Malachy is also the author of "A Monk Swimming."

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Frank McCourt's Bust Unveiling in Limerick Ireland at the Leamy School. Malachy McCourt featured center.

The title of Malachy's book comes from a line in the Catholic "Hail Mary" prayer: "blessed art thou amongst women." As a child, Malachy misheard the line as "a monk swimming." Malachy's brother, Frank McCourt, was the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "Angela's Ashes," a memoir of their troubled childhood in Limerick, Ireland. A bust honoring Frank was recently unveiled at the former Leamy National School in Limerick.

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Stephanie Abrams (L) and Malachy McCourt Right stand in front of a bust of Frank McCourt in Limerick Ireland..

As a child, says Malachy, "every hotel in Limerick had a doorman with a splendid gold-buttoned coat and epaulettes. They used to look at us, the slum urchins, in case we got too close and they might be able to smell us. So we would gaze with awe on the hotels with their white serviettes, gleaming silverware, Waterford crystal, and teapots all glowing and say, 'Wouldn't it be grand to be in there having dinner, sitting down with all them swells!' But that was our fate at the time; we had to get out and then come back, and we did."

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Welcoming Malachy Mike Alfie McCourt. in Limerick Ireland.

Not only has Malachy's situation changed, but the city of Limerick has changed, too. "We used to call [the Leamy National School] the Leamy Academy of Surgeons because they cut us up so much," says Malachy. "They wouldn't let us in the front door while at school, so we had to slip in a measly little side door. There was no love of learning; it was a place of torture, a holding pen for future inhabitants of the penitentiary." Today, the former Leamy National School has become an art gallery and home to a tribute to Frank McCourt. "Of course, when they unveiled the statue of Frank, one of our friends said, 'It's about time he was busted!'" Malachy jokes.

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Leamy Gallery. Frank and Malachy McCourt attended the Leamy school as children. Listen to Malachy's interview for interesting annecdotes on the experience..

Though Malachy and Frank were born in Brooklyn, New York, they grew up in Limerick. "Because of the abject misery of our life of death, disease, and despair, we always looked down the River Shannon and imagined the water flowing into the ocean and over to New York," Malachy remembers. "We wished we could follow the water to America, where everything was magnificent and full of opportunity. In our imaginations, home was always New York." Today, many Americans of Irish ancestry imagine making the trip in reverse, says Stephanie.  

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Ireland; Limerick; Leamy National School where McCourt Boys Attended; Art Gallery; Museum Frank McCourt.

Malachy suggests that travelers explore the country but warns visitors about the legendary Irish friendliness. "Don't even ask directions if you stop, because they'll give them to you in detail and the whole of your holiday will be spent following them," he says. Stephanie agrees, recounting one trip to Ireland in which a pedestrian told her to stop and ask directions at a particular house, but to "be careful not to get invited in for tea," lest she never make it to her destination.

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Ireland; Limerick; Leamy National School where McCourt Boys Attended; Art Gallery; Museum Frank McCourt.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1579

For more information visit: http://www.malachymccourt.com


Link to this segment

Sean Lally, General Manager, The Strand Hotel, Limerick, Ireland.
www.strandlimerick.ie

Sean Lally, General Manager of The Strand Hotel in Limerick, Ireland, introduces Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the “Travelers411” Radio Show to Limerick, the “sporting city.” The Strand Hotel has just hosted guests of the Frank McCourt statue dedication and a media breakfast, and Stephanie is broadcasting from the bustling lobby.

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Ireland; Limerick; The Strand Hotel.

The Strand Hotel will celebrate its third anniversary in summer 2010. It opened in 2007 as a brand-new 4-star hotel with 184 bedrooms in the heart of Limerick. Many rooms overlook the River Shannon and there are "beautiful walkways" around the river just outside, Sean says. The Strand has 14 conference facilities and can accommodate dinner functions for up to 460 people.

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Ireland; Limerick City; Shannon River.

Leisure travelers can enjoy five spa rooms and full leisure facilities, including a sauna, Jacuzzi, steam room, whirlpool, and plunge pool. The Strand also has a gymnasium and offers several classes, including yoga, which Sean says are very popular. "Thankfully, we're doing exceptionally well in spite of the economic downturn," he adds. "Business is up 27% since last year, and that's because we have our fingers in a lot of different pies."

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Ireland; Limerick; The Strand Hotel.

In addition to hosting the McCourts and a media breakfast, The Strand often hosts visiting sports teams. "In a few weeks, we'll welcome the Irish rugby team, who will be playing the Barbarians in Thomond Park," Sean explains. Other athletic guests include the Australian national rugby team, who will be staying at The Strand in November 2010 when they arrive to play Munster in a compromise Gaelic-Australian rules football match.

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Sean Lally, General Manager, The Strand Hotel, Limerick Ireland.

Matches are played at the Gaelic Grounds Stadium, which holds 50,000, or Thomond Park, which seats 26,000 and is a 10-minute walk from The Strand. This summer, Thomond Park will host Pink on June 20, Bob Dylan around July 4, and The Cranberries, a Limerick-based band that's reuniting to play a special gig for the opening of the Special Olympics in their hometown.

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Ireland; Limerick; The Strand Hotel.

The Strand's owner, John Lally (no relation to Sean) recently took over the management of Kylemore Abbey. Stephanie compares this to managing the Washington Monument or a Loire Valley chateau like Chenonceau or Chambord. Sean agrees that Kylemore Abbey is "one of the most spectacular attractions in the whole west of Ireland, definitely worth the detour." The Abbey, which was once an international girls' school, sits on its own rural grounds, surrounded by gardens and its own lake.

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Ireland; Limerick; The Strand Hotel; Bar Lounge.

Sean also encourages guests of The Strand to explore Limerick. The hotel is situated on the banks of the River Shannon and within walking distance of King John's Castle, the Hunt Museum, the Frank McCourt bust, and "loads of choices" for shopping. Visitors can also take walking or bus tours of the city and even an "Angela's Ashes"-themed walking tour. Most importantly, Sean urges visitors to have a taste of Ireland's "national drink" (Guinness) and enjoy the craic (the Irish way of having a good time, he explains).

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Ireland; Limerick; The Strand Hotel; Bar Lounge.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1578

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


Fun Facts:

Although most Europeans say "football" where Americans would say "soccer," Irish or Gaelic football is not actually soccer. Gaelic football is played with 15 to a side and is similar to soccer, but players can pick up the ball and kick it from their hands. "You can even pick up the ball and kick your opponent. Actually, that's quite normal," Sean says.


Guests Include:

Malachy McCourt, Author, Actor, Humorist.
www.malachymccourt.com

Sean Lally, General Manager, The Strand Hotel, Limerick, Ireland.
www.strandlimerick.ie

Hour 2

Topics Include:

Link to this segment

Sean O’Brien, Executive Director, The Center for the Constitution at James Madison’s Montpelier, Orange, Virginia, USA.
www.montpelier.org

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams welcomes Sean O'Brien, Executive Director of the Center for the Constitution at James Madison's Montpelier, to the "Travelers411" Radio Show. The Center for the Constitution is in Orange, Virginia. Stephanie is looking forward to driving through when she travels to the Celebration Hotel in Orlando, Florida. Sean is looking forward to an upcoming trip to southwestern Ireland.

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Virginia; James Madison's Montpelier; Orange County.

The Center for the Constitution is on the grounds of Montpelier, home to James and Dolley Madison. Montpelier is in central Virginia, just 1.5 hours south of Washington, a half hour from Charlottesville, and an hour from Richmond. The mansion at Montpelier faces the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Center is just a few hundred yards away. In general, the Center is a place where people can come and learn about the U. S. Constitution, says Sean.

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Annie duPont Formal Garden at James Madison's Montpelier.

The Center has several different programs for specific audiences, he adds. Some seminars are geared towards "leverage points" in society, like teachers, judges, journalists, elected officials, and foreign visitors, while others are intended for the general public. The Introduction to the Constitution seminar, for example, is a non-partisan program for the public that will happen June 4-6, 2010. "What's unusual is that when you come to take a seminar, you stay on the property," Sean explains. "You'll have an incredible intellectual experience and then you can walk around the grounds after the tourists leave. You'll be able to watch the sun set over the mountains while standing on the mansion's front steps, just like James and Dolley Madison."

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Tour guide at James Madison's Montpelier.

"The goal of the Center is to educate people about the founding principles of the U. S. We want to encourage people to read the Constitution and what the founders were reading and writing," Sean continues. "It's fascinating how many discussions today mirror discussions that were happening at the founding of the country." He encourages visitors to come for the house tour, see the Montpelier grounds and gardens, and stay for a seminar at the Center for the Constitution.

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James Madison's Montpelier, Orange County, Virginia.

"The home and gardens are what gets people interested," Sean says. "You can come and have a nice educational experience for the whole family. But we at the Center want to take it a little further than an interesting Colonial home and some amazing furnishings. The Center offers an opportunity to study what it is that makes us Americans. Montpelier is about the intellectual and national legacy of James Madison and the other founders, and what they went through when they created the Constitution and went through the ratification process."

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Constitution Class Workshop at James Madison's Montpelier.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1573

For more information visit: http://www.montpelier.org


Link to this segment

Jay Billie, President, The Inns at Montpelier Association, Orange, Virginia, USA.; Innkeeper, The Inn at Westwood Farm, Orange, Virginia, USA.
www.innatwestwoodfarm.com

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams takes the "Travelers411" Radio Show to Orange, Virginia, where she talks to Jay Billie, President of The Inns at Montpelier Association and Innkeeper at The Inn at Westwood Farm.

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Inn at Westwood Farm.

The Inns at Montpelier Association represents 9 inns with a total of 50 rooms located both in the historic town of Orange and nestled into the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. "We all banded together because of the unique beauty of the area and all the historic things it has to offer," Jay explains. "Not only that, but all the inns realized that we each have something different to sell." The largest inn in the group has 10 rooms; the smallest, just two rooms. Jay's property, the Inn at Westwood Farm, has four rooms.

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Inn at Westwood Farm.

The Inn at Westwood Farm was built in 1910 as the main house on a 150-acre farm. Jay was fortunate enough to receive a tour from the original owners' grandson when he bought the property and learned that it once included several outbuildings. Jay and his wife restored the home and added four rooms before opening the building as an inn. Today, the inn sits on "just" 15 acres, he says.

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Inn at Westwood Farm.

What can guests expect upon arrival at The Inn at Westwood Farm? "Most people come in from a long week in Washington, D. C. or Richmond," Jay says. "We give you a quick tour, offer you appetizers and local wine, and would be happy to make reservations for you at local restaurants. In the morning, there's coffee and tea waiting for you in the upstairs hallway, so you can take your time before coming down to a gourmet breakfast. If you don't have a schedule laid out, we'll help you plan your weekend."

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Inn at Westwood Farm.

Visitors to the area can choose to see wineries, the Blue Ridge Mountains, Civil War sites, the historic town of Orange, and James Madison's estate at Montpelier. Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams adds that "if you haven't explored all the nooks and crannies of Virginia, you're in for a treat," especially if you like antiques and little boutiques.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1580

For more information visit: http://www.innatwestwoodfarm.com


Link to this segment

Bill Miller, Sr. Vice President Strategic Partnerships, CheapOAir.
www.cheapoair.com

Bill Miller, Senior Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at CheapOAir, returns to the “Travelers411” Radio Show to talk airfares with Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams. Today, Bill has fares for travel around the July 4, 2010 weekend. Even though international travel is "starting to get more expensive" as we move into the summer high season, Bill says that "there are still good fares around the country to great destinations." All fares quoted are round trip, taxes and fees not included.

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Alaska.

From New York City to Denver, Bill quotes a fare of $352. A vacation from New York City to London is $626.

From Dallas-Fort Worth to San Diego, he has a fare for $345. From Kansas City to San Diego, the fare is $295.

From Los Angeles to Seattle, Bill finds a fare for $273. A Kansas City-Seattle fare is $332.

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Scotland.

As for international destinations, Bill says that flights from Dallas-Fort Worth to Cancun in July are about $400. Flights to London and Rome around the same time are about $1000 or more, he adds.

"There are still good fares out there; you just have to shop," Bill says, adding that CheapOAir offers email alerts to help travelers find the best deals on summer travel and 24/7 call center support for travelers en route. He and Stephanie encourage listeners to make plans and buy tickets early to get the dates (and seats) they want.

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Italy.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1577

For more information visit: http://www.cheapoair.com


Fun Facts:

Virginia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Kentucky are the four commonwealths in the U. S. Sean O'Brien of the Center for the Constitution at James Madison's Montpelier explains that "commonwealth" is "just another way to designate a political community and emphasizes that the government is based on the common consent of the people."


Guests Include:

Sean O’Brien, Executive Director, The Center for the Constitution at James Madison’s Montpelier, Orange, Virginia, USA.
www.montpelier.org

Jay Billie,President, The Inns at Montpelier Association, Orange, Virginia, USA.; Innkeeper, The Inn at Westwood Farm, Orange, Virginia, USA.
www.innatwestwoodfarm.com

Bill Miller, Sr. Vice President Strategic Partnerships, CheapOAir.
www.cheapoair.com

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