AN O’Callaghan’s Mills woman has been doing her bit for Irish tourism by bringing a group for a short stay at An Grianán in County Louth. As part of the break, Kay Murray lined up stops at a number of well-known destinations.
Kay, a long-time member of the ICA, has been a regular visitor to the organisation’s showcase centre over many years. ICA members go to An Grianán to take part in a wide range of courses from cookery to arts and crafts and other educational programmes. It’s also a place where people can simply relax and enjoy or participate in entertainment.
However, Kay said people are mistaken to see An Grianán as being a place where only ICA members can visit.
“It’s a place for life-long learning for all the people of Ireland,” she said. “Men can participate in courses there too. My husband often went there with me. I was involved in painting, which I enjoy very much.”
Last year, Kay decided to organise a group from the area to travel by bus to An Grianán but taking things a step further, she drew up a three-day tour programme. There wasn’t anything commercial to it; it was just about organising things.
“There was a great response; it was a home holiday. I was encouraged to arrange the same this year,” she said of the type of holidays that have come to be known as a staycation.
En route, the Clare group, which included some men, visited Phoenix Park Walled Gardens where, despite the late spring, the vegetables were at an advanced stage and the herbaceous flower beds were alive with colour.
At Áras An Uachtaráin, the group viewed the main hall and function room, before being treated to refreshments.
Moving on to Newry, shopping was the main interest but the sightseeing resumed at Carlingfort Lough. A drive through the Boyne Valley brought them to Oldbridge House, which is famous as the location of the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.
While staying at An Grianán, one of the group’s most interesting experiences was in respect of Irish dancing.
“We got professional advice on an easier way to do the Clare set,” Kay mused.
A detour to Liffey Valley Shopping Centre broke the journey home.
“Already people are talking about next year. It’s great experience and it’s providing support for Irish tourism when every euro counts,” she said.