Ted Ryan

Burlington, VT

Hi Molly and Stephanie,


Well, we’re back in Vermont, a little tired and a lot happy. This was always that “I’ll never get to do that” little dream in the back of my mind and Linda and I got to do it.


I’m not sure how you managed it, but we had no significant rain in the whole time we were there. Everyone from there we talked to kept saying how unusual it was. We did have some overcast and we could see some rain, such as the day we opted to do Dingle/Slea’s Head over Ring of Kerry. The mountains in Kerry were totally socked in.


You obviously figured out that, yes, we were far more interested in the natural beauty of Ireland than the pubs, breweries and big cities. All our reservations were no hassle; even the hotels had rooms for us early, including right off the plane when we got there.
As usual, there were the minor little things but nothing significant; one night a bed might be a bit firmer than we like for instance, but when that’s the most you can complain about, that’s pretty darn good.


Mary Gibbons was great on the Newgrange/Hill of Tara trip and the whole trip went off nicely. The train to Belfast was a bit of a tester for these rookie travelers, but no problem and everyone was quite helpful; besides, Linda has always loved trains and this was fun.

Ted's Wife Linda trying to ancient etchings

Ted’s Wife Linda trying to ancient etchings


The tour of the Giant’s Causeway, etc., provided the only unexpected drama. The mini-bus only had five passengers. Just about the time we completed the Antrim east coast part of the trip, our driver — I think his name was Dan — suddenly pulled over with a significant mechanical problem. We were still a ways out from Belfast but right before the incident, we had stopped at a little village. A tour bus had also stopped and the drivers had been talking. Turns out the tour bus wasn’t full, Dan contacted the driver, who was behind us, and he picked us up and took us all the way back. Of course, we were subjected to his version of Wild Irish Boy, but he wasn’t half-bad and everyone had fun. We owe our driver and their driver our appreciation. Until then, the Giant’s Causeway trip with the visit to the rope bridge had been spectacular. Our delay getting home way maybe 30 minutes, hardly anything to dull our enthusiasm for the day.


Now came the real fun: Tom McDonald as our private driver. Due to a shoulder injury I had incurred 3-4 weeks before the trip, I opted to sit in the backseat every day so I could keep pressure off my shoulder. That meant Linda rode shotgun and she and Tom talked and talked and talked … Tom was very interesting and Linda really enjoyed it.


In addition, it didn’t take Tom long to figure out that we really wanted to take in the Irish countryside. The scenery is so spectacular and so different from region to region, it was almost overwhelming. Tom took us to all the places we wanted to see, never rushing us in any way, and took us on a few by-excursions that were always interesting. In addition, on two of the evenings when our B&Bs were somewhat removed from restaurants, he checked into his place, came back for us, dined with us (telling more stories) and returned us. Never an inkling that “my day is done”, just real courtesy and flexibility. I would be very hard-pressed to see how you could possible have hooked us up with anyone better suited to our desires and personalities.
Linda and Grace

Linda and Grace


Our trip to Inis Mor produced its own excitement. We stepped off the ferry, great weather, and quickly employed the services of Patrick (alas, no last name, but in his 60s or so), his horse Grace and his two-person trap. He took us out to the castle and back, filling us in on much of the Island’s history and culture and, like Tom, definitely blessed with the Irish blarney that again made the day extra special for Linda.


It was on that trip we ran into one of those strange coincidences. On the way out, a woman on a bicycle went to pass us, but because of the cart taking up so much room and wandering a bit, she was a bit uncertain on which side to pass. Patrick in fun made a comment something like her being from New York, she replied no, Vermont, which of course prompted us to ask where. She said South Burlington, the next town up from Shelburne.


Well, after our hike to the castle, we returned to the trap where Patrick and the woman were talking. We joined in and soon leaned she grew up in Rutland, which is my home town. Since she looked roughly our age, I asked when and were she graduated. She said Mount St. Joseph, Class of ’65. MSJ is the Catholic high school in Rutland. I was Rutland High Class of ’65, so we were the same age, plus I said she had to have graduated with my cousin Jim MSJ’65. Turns out she’s good friends today with Jim, who incidentally had introduced me on a blind date to his girlfriend’s roommate back in college. The roommate, Linda, and I eventually married, obviously.


Back on the road, Tom would tell us about a place where he wanted to pull over for a few minutes for the scenery and photos. Not one disappointed. If you get someone else who has the interests we had, he’s perfect.


All the B&B people were nice, though by the end of each day, we didn’t engage too much. Breakfasts were very good and right on time. The castle at Eske was fantastic. In terms of accommodations, the most disappointing was Jury’s in Belfast; it was certainly adequate and no doubt my perspective was influenced by my balky shoulder on mattresses that were too firm.

Lough Eske Castle Hotel in Co. Donegal - a Tenon Tours favorite!

Lough Eske Castle Hotel in Co. Donegal – a Tenon Tours favorite!


As I said, the thought of visiting Ireland was a long-standing one I never thought I would actually do, especially now that I’m a little  older. I’ve always been enthralled by photos and videos of Western Ireland’s stark landscape but I had no idea just how spectacular and, to me, alluring it could really be. My great-great-great grandfather left Ireland in the 1840s for the U.S.


Given the weather, the planning of Tenon Tours, Tom McDonald and all the other people we met and places we stayed, it was a true dream journey. For us, it wasn’t a cheap trip but we both agreed it was worth every penny. I know our daughters and my brother, as well as a number of friends, have expressed their jealousy over just how perfectly everything seemed to go for us.


Thank you, Stephanie, Molly and Tenon Tours for making it such an effortless and, as the Irish so dearly love to say, “brilliant” return to the “old sod”
Ted and Linda even got to renew their marriage in an ancient tradition by placing their Ring fingers in ancient stone

Ted and Linda even got to renew their marriage in an ancient tradition by placing their Ring fingers in ancient stone

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