I have lost count of how many times I have returned to Ireland, but as I get longer in the tooth, I wanted this one to be special. It was! The only thing I would change about this trip would be the flight back to Atlanta.
It took several years to discover that we wanted to make our base in one hotel rather than moving from city like some kind of duffer gypsies. We were much younger, 36 a day and combine the north, Dublin, and the southwest on the same trip. Once with 12 on a bus with 29 seats that were obviously designed for nobody larger than a midget, or maybe an elf. Paddy knows that on past trips, I considered the ground transportation to be the weakest link. Mike’s new 12 passenger coaches would have made some those marathons seem like a sprint. Not only was the coach completely comfortable, but Pa was a wonderful travelling companion. If you book groups with Pa and the Mercedes coach, I suspect you won’t get many complaints.
I met Paddy O’Looney on the telephone in the early 90’s. We were good friends from several conversations well before we met face to face. So, the scenery is great, the golf is terrific, but the most important ingredient is the friendliness of the people. You either have it, or you don’t, it can’t be faked. That first day at Ashford Castle, Joan remarked that the staff acted like they really enjoyed their jobs. I was in the service business for 36 years, and I observed that only those who truly like people act like they love their jobs. The Killarney Lodge doesn’t advertise room service, but that is what they did for the member of our group who was sick for 24 hours. The Bandon Dunes complex in Oregon has terrific links golf, and I have been there 4 times, but nobody would recognize me there. They could look in the computer, and see how many, when, even how much we spent, but the personal touch is lacking when compared with the Irish golf experience.
You asked about the home clubs of the group. All 12 belong to the Piedmont Driving Club in Atlanta, but everyone or almost everyone also belongs to other clubs. Most, but not all consider the Driving Club home. A few of the other clubs include Pablo Creek in Jacksonville, Florida, Palma Ceia in Tampa, Capital City Club in Atlanta, Peachtree Golf Club in Atlanta, and Royal St. George’s in London.I hope that we will be able financially, and physically to return many more times.
Thanks for helping make our trip completely enjoyable.
Gene Hall, Atlanta. May 2009