"Travel with Stephanie Abrams!" Radio Show - May 15, 2016
Bluebell carpets found throughout woodland in Cushendun village.
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Hour 1

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Click here to listen to Max Bryant, General Manager North Coast, UK National Trust interviewed by Stephanie Abrams without commercials.

Max Bryant, General Manager North Coast, UK National Trust, Northern Ireland, UK.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk

National Trust sites in Northern Ireland and Ireland's North Coast

Radio Show Host Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams is in Ireland talking with Max Bryant, General Manager North Coast for the National Trust which is the charitable body charged with oversight, protection and management of national heritage and cultural sites throughout the UK, including Northern Ireland. Stephanie Abrams says she is pleased to talk with Max Bryant while sitting in a large room at the Causeway Hotel in what she describes as "a lovely reading room that would be perfect for a cocktail party". She says the room oozes character and charm and describes it as embellished with architectural details such as double crown molding and decor including lush carpets and draperies and it features a wonderful fireplace and an extraordinary view of the coast.

The Giants Causeway visitor's centre which opened in 2012 is just steps away from the hotel. Stephanie explains that the views of Giants Causeway through the room's many windows work to distract even from the plush interior and stresses that she goes out of her way to visit the North, and in particular Giants Causeway, whenever she visits the "island that is Ireland," even if she is on the most southern shore. She says there is "something magnetic about the Antrim Coastline and in particular Giants Causeway and the other areas you need to visit which are all taken care of and supervised under the auspices of the UK National Trust here in Northern Ireland."

Stephanie says United flies into Belfast from the US. Max says the Causeway Coastal Route is the easiest way to get to the region from Belfast. He notes that the route has been named one of the top 10 drives in the world.

As a non-sequitur, Stephanie mentions that 2012 was the year that Titanic Belfast, which commemorates the sinking of the Titanic, opened and recommends visiting the Titanic museum if coming in through Belfast. If in the Belfast area between May and September she also suggests a visit to the Botanical Gardens and urges listeners "If you make a right turn, go out and visit my good friend Tim Campbell at the St. Patrick's Centre in Downpatrick, in County Down." She continues that "If you come around the top of the Antrim coast line there are a number of places where you can stop along the way which are under the auspices and care of the UK National Trust.

Stephanie generally feels Irish weather has an undeserved reputation for overcast and misty weather. To the contrary she says on her trips she has been blessed with weather of all kinds and all of it wonderful. She suggests visitors browse through the photo galleries on sabrams.com where she says the site hosts over 18,000 images of Ireland and Northern Ireland with "many of them taken in bright sunshine." Stephanie explains that while any time of year is great to visit Ireland, she actually prefers to travel during the winter months when exhibits, cultural and tourist venues are less crowded. She feels that between the months of October through the end of march, or beginning of April, people and staff will have more time for travelers and pricing is in their favor. Stephanie is emphatic that there has never been a better time to visit Ireland and boasts that right now Ireland is having glorious weather and she is pleased to be meeting so many wonderful people.

On this visit to Ireland Stephanie is excited to make anther venture to Harry's Shack, which she says is on a gorgeous stretch of beach at Portstewart Strand. She compares the beach at Portstewart Strand to that of Pacifica which just a 15 minute drive south of San Francisco, in northern California, USA.

During her adventures touring and discovering Ireland, with her husband Mark Abrams, she says they will typically cover almost 2,000 miles during an itinerary, ranging over the Emerald Isle to search out new layers of the rich landscape and revisit favorite towns and villages often using a car from Dooley Rental Car, the only family owned rental agency in Ireland, according to Stephanie. Wherever on the island, when making a visit to Ireland she insists that she will make a "long-cut" to seek out Giants Causeway, which she describes as an inspiring and powerful cliff range on the sea in Northern Ireland.

Max Bryant says he's coming up on his eighth year as the General Manager North Coast for the UK National Trust and before that worked for a company called Sperrins Tourism as a managing director. He says prior to that he managed a "cash-and-carry" and before that he worked on logistics and distribution for Sainsbury's. Describing his current role as General Manager North Coast Max says he's delighted with the change because of his love for the outdoors, the Irish landscape and country side and that he's never been happier. Stephanie Abrams says she recently spoke with a Ranger who was previously an attorney and after years in that role decided a major life change was in order. Max Bryant says he's incredibly busy and probably working harder than he has ever in his life but the rewards of working for the National Trust and for a conservation organization playing a role in protecting the places managed by the National Trust is much more rewarding than his other endeavors. Max grew up in Kent, England, and has been in the north for 13 years [circa 2003] and he jokes that he is what's termed by the locals as a "blow-in", but he thinks he and his family will grow deep roots in Northern Ireland and doesn't intend to leave.

Max says he first visited Northern Ireland about two or three years prior to joining the National Trust. Thanks to happy happenstance he says he was "over for a wedding" in Cushendall where his best friend was marrying a girl from that village. During the event they made a trip to Giants Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede along with Bushmills Distiliary. Max says he fell in love with the place for its glorious beauty and the subtle changes from day to day where one day it might be stormy and very moody while on others the sun will be shining each day's weather evoking different emotions.

Max Bryant's specific purview within the National Trust includes the village of Cushendun on the Causeway Coastal Route, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and Larrybane Quary, White Park Bay, Portstewarts Strand where visitors will find Harry's Shack, Giants Causeway, and Downhill Demesne and Hezlett House. He explains that the National Trust also looks after land between those places for conservation reasons since the National Trust is primarily a conservation charity. Max is sure to mention that there are also quite a few wonderful places along the coast that are not maintained by the National Trust including Dunluce Castle in Bushmills, Bushmills Distillery and Glenarm Castle, to name a few.

Stephanie mentions that Dunluce Castle was featured in the Hollywood blockbuster film "Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl", as a location. She adds that the Causeway Bay Hotel, where she and Max are talking, is run by the National Trust. Says it’s a great place to stay because it is literally right at Giants Causeway with views and a perfect point to start exploring the surrounding region. She says it's "great to hop right onto the coast road to explore the Antrim coastline" which has lots of great venues dotting the landscape.

Stephanie mentions that several places in Ireland, particularly in the north, are featured as locations in the popular HBO series Game of Thrones. Max mentions the GOT coronation scene as one in particular and explains that interest in the HBO series Game of Thrones is bringing tourists to the region to enjoy the locations that were used in the series.

Max tells us about some of the industry the region has historically been known for. He says that the original purpose of a rope bridge at Carrick-a-Rede was to serve the salmon fishing industry. He also shares that one of the perks of his job working in the region is that he sometimes gets to see pods of dolphins navigating the waters along the coast.

Stephanie speculates that Irish creativity is fed by Ireland's unique landscape. Max comments that it’s the combination of the people of Ireland and the land that makes Ireland special as a tourism destination.

Max says that in his job no two days are the same and explains that the National Trust is charged with the responsibility of protecting the landscape as well as some buildings. They develop conservation and land use strategy with the goals of maintaining, protecting and allowing access to landscapes while protecting biodiversity. He says they work with tourist boards and government as well as other attractions to maintain open country side and coastal land management while protecting landscape and at the same time welcoming visitors and giving them the best possible experience.

Max Bryant tells us that the iconic scenes representing the Kings Road in the GOT series were actually filmed at the Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland. Stephanie feels the Dark Hedges are fantastic and look like something someone must have created out of ceramic and stone rather than natural growth. He says that he is a fan of the series and that its "one of those things that once you start watching you can't stop". He also shares that the Game of Thrones location for Winterfell, the home of the series' Stark family, is actually Ireland's Castleward which also is a National Trust property, but one that Max is not responsible for. Max thinks it is great that GOT Introduces the Irish landscape to new people. Stephanie and Max share that other popular film set locations in Ireland are Donegal, Castleward, Cushendun, and PortStewart Strand.

Stephanie shares a story about Castleward to which she first was introduced by attending an Irish dance called a ceili. She explains that a Ceili is an evening of music and dance, but that she had no idea that the people dancing would be the ones who bought tickets. She was fortunate enough to be taken on a private midnight tour, by lantern light.

Max Bryant shares that the National Trust funding primarily comes from members and that it has over 4 million members in the UK. He says there are opportunities for direct support of the National Trust from the Americas through the Royal Oak Foundation which is a membership organization in the United States. He notes that the oak leaf is the symbol for the National Trust logo. People who are interested in the National Trust can join it and they organize trips to Northern Ireland and the wider UK.

Stephanie entreats travelers to get a National Trust membership which will not only include access and entry to over 150 National Trust buildings and open spaces, but will allow visitors to bypass long ticket lines for speedy entry. She warns that at some of the venues ticket lines might cause a two to three hour wait, so the membership card really pays off. Max says that membership is really important in helping to maintain and conserve the National Trust properties as well.

Max thinks that one merit of tourism in Northern Ireland is that everything is so close together allowing visitors to see a spectacular amount in a short time. There are many great reasons to visit Ireland and enjoy its culture, people, heritage or just a great pub pint of Guinness. Stephanie says there's always a cheery fireplace and warm Irish welcome to greet you.

More Related Links to sites mentioned in this recording:
https://www.travelers411.com/directory/listing.php?company=j-sainsbury-plc
https://www.travelers411.com/directory/listing.php?company=sperrins-tourism
https://www.travelers411.com/directory/listing.php?company=the-old-bushmills-distillery
https://www.travelers411.com/directory/listing.php?company=cushendun-village
https://www.travelers411.com/directory/listing.php?company=belfast-botanical-gardens
https://www.travelers411.com/directory/listing.php?company=larrybane-quary
https://www.travelers411.com/directory/listing.php?company=white-park-bay
https://www.travelers411.com/directory/listing.php?company=portstewart-strand
https://www.travelers411.com/directory/listing.php?company=downhill-demesne-and-hezlett-house
https://www.travelers411.com/directory/listing.php?company=dunluce-castle
https://www.travelers411.com/directory/listing.php?company=glenarm-castle

Related Photo Galleries:
https://www.travelers411.com/forums/album.php?albumid=1708

Travelers411 Directory:
Click here for the UK National Trust Directory listing where you'll find links to all interviews with UK National Trust in one place.

Click here for more info and links to all interviews featuring Max Bryant.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
https://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=19552

For more information visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk


Guests Include:

Max Bryant, General Manager North Coast, UK National Trust, Northern Ireland, UK.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk

Hour 2

Topics Include:

Link to this segment

Donal Doherty, Proprietor, Harry's Shack, Portstewart, County Derry, Northern Ireland, UK.
www.harrys.ie

Related Photo Galleries:
https://www.travelers411.com/forums/album.php?albumid=947

Travelers411 Directory:
Click here for the Harry's Shack Directory listing where you'll find links to all interviews with Harry's Shack in one place.

Click here for more info and links to all interviews featuring Donal Doherty.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
https://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=19553

For more information visit www.harrys.ie


Guests Include:

Donal Doherty, Proprietor, Harry's Shack, Portstewart, County Derry, Northern Ireland, UK.
www.harrys.ie

Hour 3

Topics Include:

Link to this segment

John Higgins, Visitor Experience Supervisor, UK National Trust, Giant's Causeway, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, UK.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk

Related Photo Galleries:
https://www.travelers411.com/forums/album.php?albumid=1708

Travelers411 Directory:
Click here for the UK National Trust Directory listing where you'll find links to all interviews with UK National Trust in one place.

Click here for more info and links to all interviews featuring John Higgins.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
https://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=19551

For more information visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk


Guests Include:

John Higgins, Visitor Experience Supervisor, UK National Trust, Giant's Causeway, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, UK.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk

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