Travel Expert and Radio Talk Show Host Stephanie Abrams - "Travel with Stephanie Abrams!" Radio Show Shownotes for MM DD 2010
Travel with Stephanie Abrams! - October 03, 2010 - Shownotes & Audio Archive

Contemporary Luxury in an Historic Town at the d hotel, Drogheda, County Louth, Ireland; Dine in the Dungeon, Stay in Luxury at Fitzpatrick Castle, Killiney, County Dublin, Ireland; Stunning Views of the Crossroads of Ireland From the Glasson Country House Hotel & Golf Club, Glasson, County Westmeath, Ireland; Local Produce and Personal Service at Ballynahinch Castle and Explore Connemara's History, Ecology, and Geology with Noel Joyce, Walking Guide, Recess, Connemara, County Galway, Ireland.

Listen to the show in Windows Media Format:      hour1     hour2     hour3

Listen to the show in MP3 Format:     hour1     hour2     hour3

Hour 1

Topics Include:

Link to this segment

Rory Scott, General Manger, the d hotel, Drogheda, County Louth, Ireland.
www.thedhotel.com

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travel With Stephanie Abrams!" Radio Show return to Ireland and visit Rory Scott, General Manager of the d hotel in Drogheda, County Louth, Ireland. Stephanie had the pleasure of staying in the d hotel's penthouse suite and describes it as "a very contemporary, modern, minimalist design that lifts your spirits in the most remarkable way."

St. Laurence's Gate in Drogheda, Ireland.
St. Laurence's Gate in Drogheda, Ireland.

Although many people don't think of Drogheda as an entry point into Ireland, Rory points out that the historic town is just 25 minutes from Dublin Airport. "It's quicker to get to Drogheda than to Dublin, and there's no traffic, especially if you're taking a morning flight," he says. "There's so much to see around town, and nearby we have Newgrange, which is a world heritage site, and Slane Castle."

Downtown Drogheda, Ireland.
Downtown Drogheda, Ireland.

Newgrange is an ancient burial site older than the Egyptian pyramids. "It's one of the major tourist attractions in Ireland. We have lots of French and German visitors, and nearly every Irish child has come on a school tour," Rory explains. "Most of the major tour operators include a stop at Newgrange as part of their itinerary for Ireland." If there's no time to do a full tour, Stephanie recommends a stop in the Bru na Boinne Visitor Centre.

Downtown Drogheda, Ireland.
Downtown Drogheda, Ireland.

Stephanie and Rory agree, however, that Newgrange is worth a visit. "There's an amazing mound in the fields with grass on top," Rory says. "You can go inside to the temple, see the light coming in, and imagine what went on there thousands of years ago. It's really something special." There are several other burial sites in the area, including Knowth and Dowth, all of which are under the umbrella of the one visitor center.

Side of Millmount along the river Boyne in Drogheda, Ireland.
Side of Millmount along the river Boyne in Drogheda, Ireland.

Further afield, visitors can see the Monasterboice monastic site and its high crosses and Slane Castle. "The village of Slane is just ten minutes from Drogheda," says Rory. "It's really picturesque—like Adare, but smaller." Slane Castle is famous for its huge concerts and will celebrate the 30th anniversary of its first concert in 2011. The castle also recently started producing its own whiskey, which is available in the U.S. and Ireland.

The d hotel in Drogheda, Ireland.
The d hotel in Drogheda, Ireland.

The average stay in Drogheda is around two days. Visitors can also use Drogheda as a base from which to explore Dublin; the train ride between Drogheda and Dublin is only 30 minutes. Rory suggests spending one day in Drogheda town and another exploring the area. Travelers can also visit the d hotel's three sister properties in Ireland: the g hotel in Galway, Ashford Castle in County Mayo, and Hotel Meyrick in Killarney.

Bathroom at the d hotel in Drogheda, Ireland.
Bathroom at the d hotel in Drogheda, Ireland.

Stephanie particularly recommends a stay at Ashford Castle. "There is such a difference between Ashford and the d hotel," she says. "There are many castles in Ireland that lodge visitors, but Ashford is over-the-top when you come up to the property. The drawbridge alone is amazing, and then on the other side you arrive at the entrance to this magnificent castle. If your budget allows, stay there, at least for one day. If not, then just go for a cocktail or have tea."

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams at the d hotel in Drogheda, Ireland.
Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams at the d hotel in Drogheda, Ireland.

The d hotel is set apart in its own way. "Finding the hotel is a pleasure because it's in such an interesting spot," Stephanie says. "The area feels very residential and self-contained." That doesn't mean that the d is out of the way; it overlooks the river and is close to a large mall. "It's kind of isolated, quiet, and peaceful, but you're a two-minute walk from the river and the town center," says Rory. "From the rooms, you can see the roofs of all Drogheda's churches. A big draw is St. Peter's Church, which has the head of Oliver Plunkett, who was martyred. It's especially popular with schoolchildren."

Reception area at the d hotel in Drogheda, Ireland.
Reception area at the d hotel in Drogheda, Ireland.

The d hotel is popular with both business and leisure travelers. "We're very busy midweek with corporate clients," Rory explains. "There are lots of American companies with plants nearby. The bar is busy on weekends, too, when there's live music. Friday nights we have Roy Taylor, a singer who sounds like Frank Sinatra, and Saturday nights we have a band called The Enemies." The hotel just added comedy nights this year, which happen around once a month.

The d hotel, Drogheda, Ireland.
The d hotel, Drogheda, Ireland.

The d has 104 bedrooms, including standard, superior, executive, family, and balcony rooms. Rory directs potential guests to the hotel website, where they can see all the available choices. Stephanie had the pleasure of staying in the Light Room penthouse suite; the Dark Room is just next door. She was particularly impressed with the freestanding limestone bathtub, which she describes as "a big eggshell you climb into, enticingly dramatic because it's off by itself in a very big space."

Rory Scott General Manager of the d hotel in Drogheda, Ireland.
Rory Scott General Manager of the d hotel in Drogheda, Ireland.

Rory has been at the d for over five years. He has also worked at the Fitzwilliam in Dublin, in London, and at the Intercontinental in Barcelona. "The Intercontinental was a huge hotel, with 500 rooms and conference facilities," he says. "I didn't actually speak Spanish, so that was a unique experience." He's happy to be back home in Ireland, closer to his mother.

View of Drogheda from the d hotel's rooftop lounge.
View of Drogheda from the d hotel's rooftop lounge.

Why should travelers put Drogheda on the agenda? "It's a really unique town with lots of history," Rory says. "It's not as publicized as Galway, Kilkenny, or Adare, but there's more to see here, whether it's historic buildings and churches or modern hotels and shopping malls. And there's lots more to see within a ten or fifteen minute drive. The d hotel is something different at a good price, and our food and drink are also very reasonable."

Beaulieu House walled garden in Droheda Ireland.
Walled garden in Droheda Ireland.

Drogheda is also a reasonable distance from Dublin and its airport: a twenty minute drive. "If you wanted to, you could get a bus from the airport to Drogheda for five euros," Rory said. "From the bus station, it's a five minute walk to the d hotel. Once you're in Drogheda, you can take the Belfast Express to Dublin, which takes 30 minutes and runs ten times a day. You can also go up to Belfast, which is about 1.5 hours by train."

Related Travelers411 Mini Site:
Travelers411 Ireland Mini-Site

Related Photo Galleries:
The d Hotel

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2236

For more information visit www.thedhotel.com


Fun Facts:

The first Burger King in Ireland opened in 2010, nearly 50 years after the first Burger King opened in the UK.


Guests Include:

Rory Scott, General Manger, the d hotel, Drogheda, County Louth, Ireland.
www.thedhotel.com

Hour 2

Topics Include:

Link to this segment

Nicky Logue, General Manager, Fitzpatrick Castle, Killiney, County Dublin, Ireland.
www.fitzpatrickcastle.com

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travel With Stephanie Abrams!" Radio Show "swan about," as Stephanie says, at Fitzpatrick Castle in Killiney, County Dublin, Ireland with Nicky Logue, the castle's General Manager. The castle is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year; it was bought by the Fitzpatrick family in 1970 and opened as a hotel in 1971. The property is still family-owned and operated.

Fitzpatrick Castle, Killiney, County Dublin, Ireland.
Fitzpatrick Castle, Killiney, County Dublin, Ireland.

The original structure has been extended over the years, so Fitzpatrick Castle now has 113 bedrooms with views over Dublin Bay. There are two restaurants including one that specializes in fine dining and the other in the castle's original dungeon.  The property also has two bars. "We also have extensive leisure facilities, so there's really everything you'd expect from a 4-star hotel," Nicky says. "More importantly, though, we have a super team, many of whom have been here for years and years. We pride ourselves on personal service and have a large base of customers who keep coming back."

Bedroom at Fitzpatrick Castle, Killiney, County Dublin, Ireland.
Bedroom at Fitzpatrick Castle, Killiney, County Dublin, Ireland.

Though the property has been modernized, it retains plenty of historic features. Walking past reception, for example, guests encounter a large set of iron gates but also have a view of the fitness center and pool through a glass wall. Original stone floors, walls, and beams add to the atmosphere. Nicky encourages travelers to come into the lobby, which he describes as a "hive of activity," for a chat, afternoon tea, or a drink.

Lounge at Fitzpatrick Castle, Killiney, County Dublin, Ireland.
Lounge at Fitzpatrick Castle, Killiney, County Dublin, Ireland.

The hotel's executive chef has been at Fitzpatrick Castle since day one. "He's very active, very dedicated, and works incredibly hard," Nicky says. "His food is in the traditional style with a modern twist, especially in the dungeon restaurant. For weddings, we do some very traditional things, like parade into the room and carve right there. Not many restaurants offer that kind of service anymore." Stephanie was especially impressed with the Dungeon Bar and Grill. "It's like a maze with the stone walls, but then you step into a sleek, sophisticated restaurant that's lively and beautifully decorated," she says.

Related Photo Galleries:
Fitzpatrick Castle Broadcast

Related Travelers411 Mini Site:
Travelers411 Ireland Mini-Site

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2235

For more information visit www.fitzpatrickcastle.com


Link to this segment

Tom Reid, Owner, Glasson Country House Hotel & Golf Club, Glasson, County Westmeath, Ireland.
www.glassongolf.ie

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travel With Stephanie Abrams!" Radio Show play a round with Tom Reid, Owner of the Glasson Country House Hotel & Golf Club in Glasson, County Westmeath, Ireland. "It's easy to get to, easy to get around, and makes a great place for exploring," Stephanie says of the property. "Tom and his wife Breda deserve a gold star for creating this dreamy place."

Glasson Country House and Golf Resort in County Westmeath, ireland.
Glasson Country House and Golf Resort in County Westmeath, Ireland.

The hotel recently expanded from the 200-year-old house where Tom was born and raised. "We've created a bar, restaurant, new kitchen, and new function suites," Tom says. "Now, we can do bigger and better events like weddings, meetings, and all sorts of things. It's a great place to unwind, play a bit of golf, and have a good weekend or midweek break or whatever you're up to."

Glasson Country House and Golf Resort in County Westmeath, ireland.
Glasson Country House and Golf Resort in County Westmeath, Ireland.

Stephanie says that the new addition makes guests feel like they're standing in the prism of a crystal chandelier. "There's a faceted, rounded wall made of 36-inch panels of glass that angles all around you," she explains. "Then there's an upper level with a sweeping spiral staircase. I can just see people descending that staircase—a bride coming down for the wedding, for example. And it's in a picture-perfect location, with views over Lough Ree."

Related Photo Galleries:
Glasson Glasson

Related Travelers411 Mini Site:
Travelers411 Ireland Mini-Site

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2233

For more information visit www.glassongolf.ie


Link to this segment

Breda Reid, Owner, Glasson Country House Hotel & Golf Club, Glasson, County Westmeath, Ireland.
www.glassongolf.ie

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travel With Stephanie Abrams!" Radio Show continue their visit to the Glasson Country House Hotel and Golf Club in Glasson, County Westmeath, Ireland with Owner Breda Reid. Although the Glasson Golf Club recently hosted the Irish Ladies' Golf Union All-Ireland Finals, Breda did not play. "You have to qualify for your region, and it's mostly low-handicap players," she jokes. "But luckily we had a beautiful day for it."

From left to right: Tom Reid, Breda Reid, Stephanie Abrams.
From left to right: Tom Reid, Breda Reid, Stephanie Abrams.

Why should visitors stop at the Glasson Country House Hotel and Golf Club? "We're situated at the crossroads of Ireland," Breda says. "We've tried to create a contemporary addition that blends in well with the old manor house. And of course we overlook the majestic Shannon River, which flows right through the backbone of Ireland and gives such pleasure and boating activities. We're also a totally family-run country house; [husband] Tom and I are always on hand and our daughter is the manager. We love to meet people and try to make it the classic country house experience."

Related Photo Galleries:
Glasson Glasson

Related Travelers411 Mini Site:
Travelers411 Ireland Mini-Site

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2234

For more information visit www.glassongolf.ie


Travel Tips:

Look for the Good Food Ireland membership sticker in restaurant and hotel windows. "If you see that symbol, you can feel really comfortable about going in, because you know this place is sourcing the food locally and is concerned about preparation and presentation," says Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams.

Brand new function party area and restaurant bar at Glasson Country House and Golf Resort in County Westmeath, ireland.
Brand new function party area and restaurant bar at Glasson Country House and Golf Resort in County Westmeath, Ireland.

Guests Include:

Nicky Logue, General Manager, Fitzpatrick Castle, Killiney, County Dublin, Ireland.
www.fitzpatrickcastle.com

Tom Reid, Owner, Glasson Country House Hotel & Golf Club, Glasson, County Westmeath, Ireland.
www.glassongolf.ie

Breda Reid, Owner, Glasson Country House Hotel & Golf Club, Glasson, County Westmeath, Ireland.
www.glassongolf.ie

Hour 3

Topics Include:

Link to this segment

Noel Joyce, Walking Guide, Ballynahinch Castle, Recess, Connemara, County Galway, Ireland.
www.ballynahinch-castle.com

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travel With Stephanie Abrams!" Radio Show tour Ballynahinch Castle with Noel Joyce, Walking Guide. Ballynahinch Castle is located in Recess, Connemara, County Galway, Ireland, and is just an hour away from Galway city. "Galway is not as bustling as Dublin, but it offers every practical advantage that a city has in terms of activities," Stephanie says. "Plus, it's right on Galway Bay, so the views are exquisite."

Grounds at Ballynahinch Castle.
Grounds at Ballynahinch Castle in Connemara, Ireland.

Despite his last name, Noel Joyce is not related to James Joyce. Rather, Noel's ancestors were one of the 14 tribes of Galway. Noel traces his family back to one Thomas Joyce, who came to Ireland from Wales in the 13th century and was given a fair amount of land. "Thomas was well in with the powers that were at the time, so he was given land in the Connemara basin," Noel explains. "It's pretty hilly country, with lots of sheep farmers, although we have one large sawmill now."

Grounds at Ballynahinch Castle.
Grounds at Ballynahinch Castle.

Noel himself worked in construction for several years before setting off as a walking guide. "I left home in 1986 and worked in London for seven years, then Germany for seven years," he explains. "I worked on the new airport near Athens, then I came to the Netherlands in 2000, then I finally came home in 2002. I knew very little about my home when I left it; I went to boarding school at age twelve. But I was always interested in the outdoors."

Grounds at Ballynahinch Castle.
Grounds at Ballynahinch Castle.

After returning to Ireland, Noel began studying Irish history, ecology, and geology. "I lost interest in Irish history at age 15 with the Troubles; I thought of it as a subject that I didn't really need to get into," he says. "Having been out in the world, though, I look at things from a different perspective now." As for geology, he adds that "we have really diverse geology, a bit of all the main rock types and subdivisions" in the Connemara region.

Ballynahinch Castle.
Ballynahinch Castle.

Ballynahinch Castle has a long and storied history. It was once home to Richard Martin, or 'Humanity Dick,' so named for his efforts to prevent cruelty to animals. "He was a member of Parliament and a generally fair landlord, although he could be harsh," Noel explains. "He used O'Flaherty Castle to imprison people who had been cruel to animals and established the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, although he was also known for dueling."

Lounge at Ballynahinch Castle.
Lounge at Ballynahinch Castle.

After Martin's death, his family lost the estate. Ballynahinch was eventually sold to the Berridge family, who owned the estate from 1870 to 1924. In 1924, Prince Ranjitsinhji of India, or Ranji, visited Ballynahinch for a fly fishing vacation. He enjoyed the visit so much that he bought the estate from the Berridge family. "He was a very good cricket player for Worcestershire and the English cricket team," Noel continues. "He was a colorful character and probably the most-loved master of Ballynahinch Castle."

Plaque Text: His Highness Shri Sir Ranjitsinhji Vibhaji Maharaja Ham Saheb of Nawangar. "Ranji" 1872-1933. Prince of Cricketers Ballynahinch Castle 1927 - 1933.
Plaque Text: His Highness Shri Sir Ranjitsinhji Vibhaji Maharaja Jam Saheb of Nawangar. "Ranji" 1872-1933. Prince of Cricketers Ballynahinch Castle 1927 - 1933.

Noel's walking tours can take visitors nearly anywhere in Connemara. "We do a lot of estate walks all around Ballynahinch; it's nice because there are sand and gravel tracks, which are easy for walking," he says. "It's mainly woodland, but the gardens are really nice, and of course there are the lakes. The topography is just very attractive." Guests can also stroll to Ballynahinch Lake, the famous local fisheries, the fishing village of Roundstone, or Roundstone Bog, a conservation area and feeding ground for geese.

Ballynahinch Castle in Recess, Connemara, Ireland.
Ballynahinch Castle in Recess, Connemara, Ireland.

Noel ventures out regardless of the weather. "You can walk in anything," he says. "Apart from when the rain is really persistent, there's no reason why you can't get outdoors. It's a fairly mild climate, so bring your wrap-ups, waterproofs, and get out there." More adventurous guests can try fly fishing or even hunting; the woodcock come in from Siberia during the winter.

Related Travelers411 Mini Site:
Travelers411 Ireland Mini-Site

Related Photo Galleries:
Ballynahinch Castle Travelers411 Photo Album

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2231

For more information visit www.ballynahinch-castle.com


Link to this segment

Tomas Skolka, Sous Chef, Ballynahinch Castle, Recess, Connemara, County Galway, Ireland.
www.ballynahinch-castle.com

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travel With Stephanie Abrams!" Radio Show discover the most important part of any journey—the food experience—with Tomas Skolka, Sous Chef at Ballynahinch Castle in Recess, Connemara, County Galway, Ireland. "If you need an escape from the realities of daily living, Ballynahinch Castle is the place," Stephanie says. "It's a wonderful historic building on gorgeous grounds with exquisite cuisine."

Tomas Skolka, Sous Chef, Ballynahinch Castle, Recess, Connemara, County Galway, Ireland.
Tomas Skolka, Sous Chef, Ballynahinch Castle, Recess, Connemara, County Galway, Ireland.

Tomas has been at Ballynahinch Castle for nearly 5 years. His focus is on local products from Connemara suppliers. "We try to keep everything local and get the best meat and produce," he says. "We also feed sixty people each night in the dining room during the summer, so we try our best to give everyone special attention." Stephanie especially enjoyed her squash tortellini. "Outside Hong Kong and Italy, pasta is usually too thick or too fat, but this was light and beautiful," she says. "It's such a new and creative idea."

Related Travelers411 Mini Site:
Travelers411 Ireland Mini-Site

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2232

For more information visit www.ballynahinch-castle.com


Travel Tips:

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams recommends the film "Winged Migration." The film follows birds as they migrate all over the globe; some species travel 12,000 miles or more. Since it was filmed in hot air balloons, the crew could get quite close to the birds. "If you're interested in action, this may sound a bit mild, but by the end of the film, you'll think you're a bird," Stephanie says.

Ducks marching at Beaulieu House in Drogheda, Ireland.
Ducks marching at Beaulieu House in Drogheda, Ireland.

Guests Include:

Noel Joyce, Walking Guide, Ballynahinch Castle, Recess, Connemara, County Galway, Ireland.
www.ballynahinch-castle.com

Tomas Skolka, Sous Chef, Ballynahinch Castle, Recess, Connemara, County Galway, Ireland.
www.ballynahinch-castle.com

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