How we put the “family” in Ireland
Posted by Sharon Bell
Posted in: Insider Connections
Tags: Europe, Family Travel
Back to School for Kids… Back to Planning for Moms!!
If you are a mom like me, you are just getting over the back to school flurry, and the long days of summer seem like a much too distant memory! Back to school brings with it a sense of purpose and “moving forward” for all of us. As October rolls to an end, I turn my attention to how I want to make an impact on my kids’ lives beyond their traditional schooling.
I’m the brand manager for our family travel brand, Tauck Bridges, so... booking my family’s personal travel is one of the first things on my list. Travel teaches my children more than they would ever learn in school – about tolerance and understanding, about creativity and inspiration, about being a world citizen and caring for our Earth and its inhabitants. Next summer feels like a long way away, but I like to plan NOW so that we can have more time to look forward to family adventures and maybe learn a thing or two along the way about where we are going.
Ireland – beyond the leprechauns and four-leaf clovers
We’re introducing several new Tauck Bridges family adventures for 2013, including Ireland Forever. Last year, I had the fortune of going out personally on the development trip – and the entire time I had my three kids, aged 13, 13 (twins, yes) and 17 in mind. What would make Ireland meaningful for them? What would help them connect to that rich Irish culture? No doubt about it, Ireland is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. But what would connect both children and adults to those Irish landscapes that are straight out of the movies? And ultimately, what about this trip would change my kids’ lives after they returned home – and how could we all share and discover this together? I set myself up with some pretty deep – and pretty high – expectations…
And then I discovered that everything I was personally looking for in family adventures was right there, right in front me. I found it in just about everything that makes Ireland “Ireland.”
A Few of My Favorite Things
Initially, we made sure that we included the key iconic destinations on our Ireland family vacation, like Dublin, the Cliffs of Moher, the Ring of Kerry... but I quickly found that it was the unique, lesser-known elements that we created from the ground up that were personally so inspirational to me.
Like the local potter we met in Kinsale who had never hosted a large tour group, but instead taught pottery to local kids in an authentic 17th-century stone farmhouse. We swapped a few stories, shared with him our hopes for the enrichment that kids get when they engage in authentic, hands-on activities… And the end result? He will show Tauck guests how to throw pottery on a wheel and make Celtic jewelry – and he’ll share some amazing stories that he has acquired throughout the years about the history of pottery in Ireland. And then… he invited our groups to have lunch in his studio!
Another amazing experience is the event that we created at the famous Ballymaloe Cookery School. Ballymaloe is family run, headed by Darina Allen, one of Ireland’s most beloved chefs – cookbook authors – television presenters... The school is set on a 100-acre organic farm in County Cork, on the grounds of Ballymaloe House. We wanted to include something on our Ireland family trip that was different, something that would be unique. And when we road-tested Ballymaloe Cookery School, we found it.
So here’s what happens – to learn the art of Irish cooking, the kids will make Irish soda bread while the adults make starters and entrées. And then our families will gather together to share their creations (that were carefully supervised, of course) in this beautiful farm setting. And one of the best parts? The owner’s uncle will serenade with Irish tunes during our lunch. For me, this was the “wow” moment that I look for on every trip.
One more example is the way our families leave Ireland – their last night will be spent at an Irish farmhouse celebration complete with homemade food, Irish step dancing, storytelling and a sheep dog demonstration. This is another one of those authentic moments that I want my own kids to have in their travels. I love that we chose to say goodbye this way, with a way true to Ireland. It is a place that I know everyone will come to love as much as I did.
There is so much more to tell about this trip than I’ve described here… I can’t wait to take my kids on this tour!