Ireland has done a great job marketing tourism. They have created tourism driving routes and have named them creatively – Wild Atlantic Way – Ireland’s Ancient East.
Ireland has also offered tax incentives to get industries to locate here and has worked – Intel, Hewlett-Packard, the European Headquarters of Apple are all located in Ireland.
Film Production Companies are also offered incentives so movies such as King Arthur, Michael Collins, PS I Love You and Brave Heart have been filmed in Ireland. There are also film driving trails so you can see your favorite film set locations.
France and Germany are especially not happy that Ireland offers these tax incentives as they feel all of the EU countries should do things the same but this hasn’t stopped Ireland from offering these incentives.
President Trump is not happy with Ireland either but Connor our guide said they really don’t care. Trumps Mother is Scottish so Connor said he is welcomed there but not so welcome in Ireland.
Walking and hiking treks also brings tourism dollars to Ireland but weather can change quickly so there is a volunteer rescue team to help those that get disoriented during bad weather in the Wexford Wicklow Mountains.
This morning we visited Powerscourt House – which is owned by the Slazenger Family (sports equipment). This estate has experienced bad luck over the years. It had been completely refurbished and after a successful press unveiling that evening there was a fire which destroyed the house – it was left as a shell.
It remained that way for years but eventually the family renovated the home again but instead of restoring it to its original grandeur its now a retail and banquet space. The historic gardens remain and are a huge draw for tourists. A Ritz Carlton Hotel and Gordon Ramsey managed restaurant were established on the property. They still exist but the brand names have changed.
Sheep in Ireland are marked with a vegetable dye and ear tags which allows for traceability. A combination of 2 colours are used if there are many farmers grazing sheep in the same area. Irish Lamb is exported around the World. Mutton (sheep over 1 year old) is in demand in France. There are huge dairy farms here too. Beef production is important. The most important crop is grass – grown on 70% of farm land. Potato’s are a vital crop. Strawberries will be ready for picking in a couple of weeks (way ahead of us in Ontario, Canada). Early spring vegetables like asparagus is now widely available.
Our morning drive was beautiful – the rural countryside looks like a Patchwork Quilt of greens surrounded by hedge rows. Actor, Daniel Day Lewis make his home in the area we traveled through and so does the former manager of the rock band, U2. Mia Farrow use to have a home here too.
We ventured down very narrow roads that lead us through farming communities. We saw many sheep farms. This, the County of Wicklow is the source of water for Guinness – by pipeline into the city.
The nasty Gorse weed is currently in beautiful yellow flower. This is a damaging weed that spreads quickly – major problem for farmers.
Laragh is the “wee” village where we enjoyed a delicious lunch at the The Wicklow Heather Restaurant. This restaurant has a very warm and inviting atmosphere. They are the only choice in town so the locals are lucky that its a terrific spot. We enjoyed baked Brie salad, tender local lamb with roasted and mashed potatoes/cabbage. Dessert was luscious Baileys Cheesecake.
After lunch we drove up a windy, narrow roads through valleys and over small mountains toward Hollywood, Ireland. There are 2 Hollywood towns in Irelands – the tiny one we passed through has a Hollywood Sign in the hills just like in California.
The scenery during our drive was spectacular. This is also part of the movie driving route. We passed the impressive Summit of the Wicklow Gap. The heather plants in this region will soon be out in bloom. There is plenty of forestry so pine trees add to the landscape.
Horses have always been an integral part of life in Ireland. Horse racing is a very social event. Valuable Prizes are often awarded to the Best Dressed Lady and Man in the crowd. There are activities set up for children to enjoy. Good dining and bar facilities are found at the tracks. At racetracks any age can bet – but if you use a bookmaker you need to be 18. Most race tracks are grass covered.
Our guided visit at the National Stud Farm was a highlight of the day. This is a 1000 acre facility that was started by Colonel Hall Walker. Here the breeding process is strictly controlled by the government. Every horse has a passport which gives vital information such as visas, vaccinations and microchip number. The Stallions start breeding on Valentines Day until June.
Tonight’s fine dining dinner was at the Linden Tree Restaurant. It was a superb meal and the service spot on. The restaurant mistakenly put the meal cost on our private menu – 50 Euro per person – this didn’t include water, tea/coffee, tax and tip – so tonights meal was over $100 CDN per person. At, “Travel With Bradley” I don’t skimp on anything – accommodations, meals, attractions, guides….. If my passengers would have dined in tonights restaurant on their own the cost of their meal would have been even higher. I am able to negotiate savings because I’m bringing a group so it doesn’t surprise me when some people try to copy my itinerary and travel on their own to find that the cost is much higher than my itinerary – plus instead of relaxing they have the stress of having to arrange scheduled, find good restaurant….. Others try tour companies that offer great lead in prices and don’t realize how little has been included. Once you start adding meals, pricey optional tours, gratuities you then realize what a great value, “Travel With Bradley” is.
It was a terrific day. Sadly tomorrow morning we need to say farewell to this beautiful resort. It’s time to move to another beautiful region of Ireland.