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,
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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
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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.
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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
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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
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You're going to be great at this Tom. Congrats.
--- Donna Vissa -Montreal
Journey to the Bottom of the Globe: Exploring the
White Continent of Antarctica
As a travel journalist I am constantly asked what are
some of my favorite travel experiences. The list is endless. But there is
one destination that seems to raise the most eyebrows. That destination
is a cruise to Antarctica. Sadly, that cruise line I was on is no more,
but today there is a plethora of cruise lines that offer similar packages.
Here's a look back at my Antarctica cruise.
Hanging Out in Huntington Beach, California
Huntington Beach is legendary around the world as one
of the best surfing spots. Its waves and beaches are so great, it is also
officially known as "Surf City." But as I learned on a recent
getaway, the town is more than just tasty swells and beautiful white sand;
it also boasts gourmet restaurants, luxury, ocean-front hotels, great
shopping, and tons of California coastal charm.
Would You Believe She Can Carry 800 (Yes, 800!)
As she came around the corner we could not believe
how big she was. Massive, and yet incredibly beautiful almost elegant
in fact. Her lines were so symmetrical she seemed to blend into a classic
example of astonishing good looks. The other fact that amazed all of us
was how quiet she was. We felt sure that with the obvious overwhelming power
she evidenced, she'd be extra loud. It's a cliché, but she was as
quiet as a church mouse or "as quiet as dreaming trees."
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.
Costa Rica's Green
Sitting at an umbrella table in downtown San Jose overlooking
the Plaza de la Cultura is like a page out of Hemingway's "The
Sun Also Rises." The plaza is laid out in a maze of stalls where
passive vendors sell sparkling silver jewelry by the trayfull, hand-carved
clay masks, colorful Guatemalan belts, area rugs, and hammocks perfect
for a midday siesta. Three men play an old wood marimba over the buzz
of the crowd while a steaming plate of Gallo Pinto (rice and beans) is
served to an elegant lady who was performing with her guitar and who is
chummy with everyone from the shoeshine man to the waitresses..
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.
Richard Gere and Joseph Cedar Discuss "The Moderate
Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer"
Richard Gere is one of America's acting treasures. He
has an uncanny knack for selecting scripts with the most interesting characters.
Included in some of his vast body of films are "American Gigolo,
"An Officer and a Gentleman," "The Cotton Club," "Internal
Affairs," "Pretty Woman," "Primal Fear," "Unfaithful,"
and "Chicago." Joseph Cedar, writer and director of the critically
acclaimed "The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer,"
was born in New York City but when he was five, his family moved to Israel
where he was raised.
John Nemeth Doubles Down
John Nemeth is a busy guy. He and his band, the Blue Dreamers,
tour constantly and rarely leave the road. But when they do it's just
long enough to feed the heads of their rabid and enthusiastic fan base.
Personally, I've witnessed multiple Nemeth shows in both intimate and
festival settings and not once have I ever seen a patron stagger away
without a face full of grin. So when word came down that a new recording
was in the works, my grin got wider.
Tahiti and Her Islands
Just their names (pronounce each vowel!) conjure up romantic
images: Tahiti Nui, Moorea, Bora Bora, Huahine, Ra'iatea, Taha'a. Her
people are gentle; the air, tiare-perfumed. Warm lagoons, majestic peaks,
tropical fruits from the land and bounty from the sea all tantalize the
senses. Paradise! As near as can be found on planet earth. And, in my
experience, the finest way to explore her is on a ship designed for that