Treasures of Ireland:
Remembering the Great Famine
(Dispatch #12) Story and photos by Tom Weber
travel writer worth his or her salt cannot come to Ireland and limit
their reporting to just the "usual suspects" of foamy pints
of Guinness, Dublin's Temple Bar, the postcard-perfect scenery in various
shades of verdant green, the iconic locales and The Quiet Man
film locations. No, to document the Emerald Isle correctly you've got
to, unfortunately, sprinkle a bit of sadness over the narrative.
About an hour out of Limerick
along the N67, Eugene, our expert pilot, brings the motor coach to a
full stop at a lay-by just outside of Ennistymon on the way to Lahinch
in Co. Clare. The "band of [not-so] merry media," 18 travel
writers and photographers invited by Insight
Vacations to sample a portion of its Treasures of Ireland
journey, disembark and walk solemnly into Ireland's tragic past: An
Gorta Mor (The Great Famine).
The very first monument erected in Ireland
to memorialize the approximately 1 million victims of the island's great
potato crop failure, who either died of starvation or disease-related
causes between 1845 to 1852, and which also forced an additional 1 million
Irishmen to emigrate to faraway shores, The Great Famine Memorial
was dedicated on August 20, 1995, marking the 150th anniversary of the
tragedy that changed the Emerald Isle forever.
Located across the field from Ennistymon
Hospital, itself built on the grounds of a local 19th century workhouse,
the memorial was designed by Allan F. Ryan Halls, an artist from Co.
Kerry. The sculpture, on one side, depicts a child standing before the
workhouse door, while across from that is the head of an anguished mother
and two hands clenched in frustration above the sorrowful text of a
pleading note written on February 25, 1848:
For this writer, three generations removed
from my Irish roots, a brief pause along the side of the road to view
this memorial is the very least that I can do to begin to try and understand
the pain and suffering my ancestors endured during An Gorta Mor.
May they rest in peace.
For complete information on Insight's 100+
premium and luxury-escorted journeys around Europe, including the Treasures
of Ireland itinerary, just click HERE,
or call toll free 1-888-680-1241, or contact your travel agent.
Let Tom know what you think about his traveling adventure.
* * * * *
for Destination Bosnia: Inside Sarajevo's Tunnel of Hope
Spent time in Sarajevo in the fall of 1973 beer was excellent!
* * * *
I must say, you're photographs are always amazing. They are
top notch. You bring so much class to Traveling Boy. It's photographs like yours
that make me want to go out and do my own traveling. Please don't get tired
of sending us your amazing adventures. It's such a delight for the soul.
--- Raoul, Whittier, CA
* * * *
I'm also an American living in Italy. I've read with interest your blog and
articles. I'd like to speak with you regarding residency and citizenship for
Americans in Italy as you do seem to have a great deal of knowledge on all of
these subjects. Would it be possible to give you a call on the phone? If so,
please let me know how to reach you. If not, I can ask my questions via email.
* * * *
Hey Tom Wow! Love those photos they are so super
that they make me A) Want to start eating NOW. B) Go there myself. C) See all
that pristine beauty that looks so restful and peaceful. Great story, superb
--- John, Los Angeles, CA
* * * *
for Destination Southwestern France: Saint-Émilion
Good job, Tom, and timely info. St. Émilion is in the
list of places Jim Hayes and I will visit in September 2014. If we get the chance,
we will exploit your experience to enhance the trip!
--- Bobby Harper, Dameron, MD
* * * *
for Vicenza Walks Monte Berico
I lived in Vicenza for 4 years in the U.S. ARMY from 1963 to
1967. A wonderful place to explore. Palladios works are amazing. Have
been back twice since and find new places to visit. My favorite is MONTE BERICO
where I have some wonderful photos of my family.
--- Dr. Albert Pizzi, Hanover, MA
* * * *
I liked the new TB particularly the Vicenza article that took
me back as a youth when we lived in Naples and travelled up there for a baseball
tourney (U.S. Military Bases dependent schools played each other.)
Took me back to the plaza.
for A Canterbury Trail (Sutri)
Very interesting note. I have wedroned which route the early
pre-Christian and Christian pilgrims travelled to Rome from England. Is it still
possible to travel the Francigena trail?
Good article, enjoyed reading it. Saved your recommended sights
for future use.
--- Dardenne Prairie, MO
* * * *
You're going to be great at this Tom. Congrats.
--- Donna Vissa -Montreal
Eugene Chaplin Introduces Chaplin's World Museum
in Vevey, Switzerland
Lake Geneva/ Matterhorn Region and Switzerland Tourism
recently blew into Los Angeles with the most esteemed guest, Eugene Chaplin.
A man of remarkable lineage, he is the fifth child of Oona O'Neill and Sir
Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin, the grandson of playwright
Eugene O'Neill, the brother of Geraldine Chaplin and father of actress/model
Discovering Art, Culture and Cuisine in Lancaster
Lancaster has always been one of those cities that I pass
through on the way to some other destination. But last week was different.
I finally took the time to explore the place and wow, was I surprised!
I discovered a downtown full of charm, culture, cuisine and community
spirit. My recent getaway began when a friend and I drove about 60 miles
north of Los Angeles toward the Mojave Desert and checked into the Towneplace
Chuuk + Wrecks = Scuba Divers' Paradise
As we dropped down to 25,000 feet I saw one of the
most extraordinary panoramas I'd ever been lucky enough to witness. The
majesty of it all and the stunning vistas that lay below and before me were
spectacular. It was as beautiful as spring's first rose, and it made me
understand why so many pilots on commercial jetliners love their job; they
get to see so many awe-inspiring sights from the cockpit. My view was that
of a vast vista of the Pacific.
Highway 49 Revisited: Exploring California's
In the 1840s, the population of California was only
14,000, but by 1850 more than 100,000 settlers and adventurers had arrived
from all over the world and they came for one reason: gold. James
Marshall had discovered the first gold nugget at Sutters Mill in El
Dorado County, creating the largest gold rush in history.
Lake Charles Family-Size Low-Key Mardi Gras
The Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras in Lake Charles,
the second largest in Louisiana, does not need parents there to avert their
childrens eyes. This is family entertainment and children are very
much part of it. The main office of the Lake Charles CVB has costumes from
last years Mardi Gras but it also has figures to fascinate little
ones from country boys fishing for their dinner to alligators who have already
fed and are rubbing their stomachs.
Cedar Hill: Frederick Douglass' Home is as Imposing
as the Man who Lived There
Having recently received a misguided shout-out from
the president during Black History Month Frederick Douglass has done
an amazing job... it seems a good time to revisit the cultural icon's
legitimate place in history. And a visit to his home in Washington, DC
surely a place the current president might want to consider visiting himself
would be a good place to start.
The enormous Sonora Desert, a colossal 120,000 square
miles of splendor that spreads like a great tapestry of textures and colors
across international boundaries from Arizona into the State of Sonora
in northern Mexico is one of North Americas grand, untrammeled natural
treasures. The complex, sun-blessed region of bright dry heat, brilliant
low-hanging stars, and long, ever-changing shadows that shift with the
sun as they drape like endless silhouettes across craggy walls, mountain
ridges and hidden canyons, is a vibrant land with tales to tell.
Bring Carnival Redemption to Washington. Please.
An American expat pal in Hong Kong sent me a picture in
the South China Morning Post of Jeff Sessions swearing in under oath.
My friend asked, Are we really to become the laughing stock of the
planet? My favorite social barometer, carnival across different
cultures, gives us the edge. Last week, Basel, Switzerland completed Fasnacht,
a carnival starting at 4 AM the Monday after Ash Wednesday.
Japan: Bullet Trains, Monkey Shows and Whale Steaks
Last month, I went to Japan for three things... Ok,
let me back up a little bit already. The #1 reason I went to Japan was to
visit my girlfriend, Yuki, and she will kill me if I don't say that, so
there it is. Hi Yuki! Anyway, so after that, reasons number 2, 3, and 4
were the following: I wanted to ride a bullet train, go to a monkey show,
and eat a whale steak. That's right. That's right.
Film Review: "My Hero Brother" A Tribute
to the Human Spirit
I just spent five days attending the Santa Barbara Film
Festival and for the most part, the features, animated shorts, and documentaries
were quite professional and compelling. That said, "My Hero Brother,"
a documentary that was particularly outstanding, told the remarkable and
inspiring story about a group of Down syndrome young men and women who
go on a two-week trek through the Himalayas with their non-Down syndrome
Crooked Eye Tommy: 'Butterflies and Snakes'
When you load the CD Butterflies and Snakes into your
sound system, you know from the onset Crooked Eye Tommy isn't your run-of-the-mill
blues band. The entire recording is based around multiple styles, assorted
genres and two lifetimes of influence. From the swamp-like vibe of the
opening track through the weeping steel guitar highlighting the finale
there's a brand new, old school familiarity that resonates throughout
each one of the 11 original songs.
La Paz, Baja California Sur
Photographer Deb Roskamp focuses her camera on La Paz,
Baja California Sur. The resort property is CostaBaja, and the boat tours,
which include snorkeling at the UNESCO protected site, Isla Espiritu Santo,
were conducted by Fun Baja. The photographs are intended to speak for