On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter – August 23, 2019
More about Ireland 10-day motor coach tour
By Tom Blake 26 years of writing columns
Last week, I wrote about my partner Greta’s and my first week in Ireland. Today, I want to add some travel information and share with you the five most enjoyable activities we experienced in Ireland:
(1) Our Globus motor coach tour group of 28 visiting 200-year old Rathbaun Farm,
near Galway, where we all prepared scones from scratch, and while the scones were baking, observed a border collie herding sheep.
Our group making scones
At least I contributed something–by holding the flour
(2) Helping make Irish coffees for our group of 28
On day 6 in Ireland, our itinerary read,
“Make your own Irish Coffee” at the Foynes Flying Boat Maritime Museum. Foynes is a small town near Limerick and Shannon Airport. Explore the only full-size replica of a Boeing B314 ‘Clipper,’ the long-range flying boat from the 1930s.”
I had no idea how Irish coffee and the flight museum were related. The woman who greeted us said Irish Coffee was invented there in 1943. I thought, that’s impossible, Irish Coffee, was invented at the Buena Vista (BV) Café in San Francisco.
I know that because my good friend and co-worker from years ago, Bob Freeman, one of the three founders of the Victoria Station restaurant chain, for which I worked, now (in 2019) owns the BV, and the restaurant is known for its world-famous Irish Coffee.
Turns out, I was wrong about it being invented there in San Francisco. Joe Sheridan, the chef for the Flying Boats in Ireland, invented it for the guests on those luxury airplane trips in Ireland, and 10 years later, in 1953, Sheridan, after moving to San Francisco, introduced it to the BV, where he worked. At the flight museum, the BV is mentioned, even promoted.
The BV serves around 2,000 Irish Coffees per day and claims that nearly 50 million of them have been served over 68 years. I may have sipped three in my visits there so I’ve contributed to that number.
The greeter lady in Foynes needed a volunteer to help make Irish coffees for our group of 28. I promptly raised my hand; she picked me. Afterwards, for helping her, she presented me with a token silver “Champion Irish Coffee Maker” medal and a signed History of Irish Coffee proclamation. What a hoot! (By the way, the correct way to sip Irish Coffee is through the cream).
Tom’s Irish Coffee, proclamation and medallion
(3) Visiting the Waterford Crystal factory – In Waterford, the group enjoyed a tour of the famous Waterford Crystal factory, which has 180 employees producing the well-known vases, stemware and sports trophies. The original Waterford Crystal building is vacant, and the company has moved to a much smaller facility, but it’s still going strong. After the tour, Greta and I managed to exit the showroom without purchasing any of the captivating glassware. Some of our group purchased crystal items.
No shopping at Waterford Crystal Factory and Showroom for Greta and Tom
(4) At a pub outside of Waterford, our tour group was entertained by an Irish singer—a crusty, gruff-voiced guy. He was having fun teasing us with his version of “Name That Tune.”
He sang a song and then asked, “Does anyone know the name of that song and who sang it?”
I raised my hand, shouting: “Wildwood Flower by Mother Maybelle Carter (the mother of June Carter Cash, Johnny Cash’s wife) and The Carter Sisters.”
After the show, the singer asked, “How did you know that?”
I said, “I worked with Johnny Cash for two years and heard Mother Maybelle sing that song many times in person, and, also knew her.”
(5) Favorite city: Killarney. Killarney is a small city, population of approximately 14,500. However, it has more hotels than Dublin, according to our tour guide. It’s a happening, party city. We loved our visit there.
The Guinness store there is like a LL Bean Store, with all kinds of neat clothing items and gift merchandise.
Killarney Guinness Store
Here is a picture of our tour group.
Barbara McCarthy, tour guide, front row left in white; Shaun, driver, front row right with sunglasses on head (photo courtesy Paul Culver)
Some Champs asked for the name of our tour company: Globus Tours. Ask your travel agent. By the way, our Ireland tour guide, Barbara was fantastic. So organized and upbeat. She knew all our names by the end of the first day.
And our motor coach driver, Shaun, was good, really good. Oh my, those narrow roads and cliffside-stretches of roads along the Ring of Kerry. He got us back to Dublin safely, without a scratch, without a hitch.
Ireland was a great experience.