Australia

Australia

For the best places to visit in Australia, we sit down with Australian native and experienced expert Trav Bell as we explore things to do and how to live a purpose-filled life Down Under. Travis is a self-appointed ʻBucket Listologistʼ who has designed his life around his bucket list and now helps bucket listers all over the globe create and cross off their to-do’s. Know more about Australia as our hosts share their favorite things about this exciting destination and learn from Travis’ philosophy behind his focus on Australia’s experiential opportunities.

Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth are travel and hospitality entrepreneurs and owners of the global meetings organization, American Meetings, Inc. From sourcing meetings in Australia, to corporate event management around the world, their team selects corporate event venues and meeting planners for a wide array of enterprise business clients, providing ideas for convention themes and strategies for running global meetings and events. Learn more at www.americanmeetings.com.

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Australia

If your bucket list includes play the didgeridoo, the Great Barrier Reef, sing at the Sydney Opera House or visiting Federation Square or the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne, this is the episode to whet your appetite. Between the Pacific and Indian Oceans is the Land Down Under, the world’s smallest continent and largest island. Whether the night life and shopping, sight-seeing or water sports, visitors come to Australia every year to explore all it offers. Explore Aboriginal heritage, history and culture and several art galleries and museums, or hike Karijini National Park’s dark red canyons to explore gorgeous waterfalls. In this episode, we will be interviewing Australia’s own Trav Bell, also known as The Bucket List Guy. He has been inspiring audiences to not let their to-do list take priority over their bucket list. In fact, he says it shouldn’t take dramatic or traumatic to live a purpose-filled life. Learn Australia’s best kept secrets, the best time to travel, the tourist must-dos, and get inspired on this episode of Destination Everywhere, Australia.

We are traveling to Australia and we couldn’t be more excited. It’s going to be such an incredible show. We have an awesome guest who not only is from Australia, but he also is what they call The Bucket List Guy. His name is Trav Bell and we’re going to be talking about him. Before we talk to Trav, we’re going to talk a little bit about Australia, why we love it so much and the times that we have gone there. Todd, what’s your favorite thing about Australia?

I’ve always been fascinated with Australia being South of the equator. When it’s winter here, it’s summer there and then vice-versa. It’s one of those fascinating places. It’s a continent. It’s a country. It has a small population relative to the size.

It only has 23 million people in its entire continent. There are a lot of open lands and open vistas. It is one of the largest deserts in the world. Talking about beauty, the coastal towns. That’s what I remember about Australia is all the wonderful coastal towns, the beautiful beaches and the wildlife. The cities are fantastic as well, Melbourne and Sydney, the largest ones, but what is incredible is all the natural beauty. We’re going to talk a lot about that with our guest.

What I like to do also when we go to a destination is, I always like to Google what movies were filmed there. I did that and then some of them surprised me.

I haven’t heard about this yet, let’s do it.

The Matrix was filmed all around Sydney. Did you know that?

I did not know that. That’s a good one.

Mission Impossible 2, that’s more obvious. You do see the Sydney Opera House in a lot of the movie on the water scenes. Parts of Star Wars were filmed there. This one is now added to my bucket list is The Great Gatsby Movie with Leo DiCaprio. The Gatsby mansion in that movie was the International College of Management located in Manly. Other ones like Babe. There was a movie called Fool’s Gold with Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson. That was supposed to be filmed in the Caribbean, but because of weather they moved that to the Great Barrier Reef along the Queensland Coast. There’s like Charlotte’s Web, but there was one called Ghost Writer. That was filmed at the Telstra Dome in Melbourne, which is where the wild things are. Wolverines, I can go on, but I’ll stop there. It’s big. The background is diverse. You have beaches. You have deserts, great cities and small cities.

One thing I always thought was cool is a lot of people think that Washington DC was the only capital that was ever done as a capital city. Their capital, Canberra is the same thing. It was specifically built to serve as the capital. It has a grand feel like DC.

It has access to both Melbourne and Sydney. It’s right in the middle of the two on the East Coast. It’s not a city. If you ask most people what the capital of Australia, I don’t think there would be able to tell you.

For everyone who’s been to Australia, part of the experience is having to take that huge long flight either from Europe or from the United States. It’s part of the experience, but it’s also a long flight. It can be 15 to 24 hours depending on where you’re flying from, from the US or Canada. You have to take that into your plans and make sure that you plan for that because you plan a day ahead so you need to be prepared for that.

In retrospect, we probably should’ve made this episode or a couple of smaller episodes. We’ll probably do that on as pick it down, but Australia is fascinating. When you get into it, you realize, “I need to spend more time in this area.”

We’re putting the bucket list together for this show. We had to pair so much stuff down. We shouldn’t have time for all that. We will be back to visit our friends, the Aussies, many times to come here.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about one particular movie. Everybody remembers it from the ‘80s. Andy, do you know what movie I’m talking about? To me, it put the Outback on the map.

Crocodile Dundee, I’m sure the Aussies loved that. I’m sure I like being compared to Crocodile Dundee all the time.

Paul Hogan, in that, gives you a feel for Australia outside of a city. They were getting into the Outback. It’s dangerous and beautiful at the same time.

DE 9 | Exploring Australia

My Bucketlist Blueprint: The 12 Steps to #tickitB4Ukickit

I’m excited to talk to Trav Bell. He’s The Bucket List Guy. He’s going to be our first guest, but he’s also Australian. He not only looks for life-changing bucket list items to do, it’s his way of life. We’re going to talk about a bucket list of things to do in Australia with him. He’s got the best of both worlds. We can talk about both of them. We’re going to talk about other bucket list experiences he’s had around the world. I’m excited to talk to Trav Bell, The Bucket List Guy.

We’re excited to have our next guest. We have Trav Bell, who is The Bucket-List Guy joining us from Melbourne, Australia. Welcome, Trav. We’re happy to have you.

Todd, Andy, I am excited to be here.

We are excited to have you here.

When we were going over your profile and listened to your TED Talk, I found that you are extremely entertaining and a great speaker. You have a book, My Bucketlist Blueprint. My Bucketlist is an acronym. Each one of those means something. For all intents of purpose, they’re going to have to go and watch your TED Talk to find out the entire acronym, but what’s your philosophy behind this and why did you focus on the bucket list experiences?

Thanks a lot for having me on. I’ll share as much as I possibly can. Someone called me The Bucket List Guy several years ago. In my first business, I was one of the first personal trainers running around Melbourne. I founded and franchised a chain of personal fitness training studios with 300 personal trainers working for me, tens of thousands of clients, and with nearly two million personal training sessions. I always loved helping people. I do that for many years, but things got on top of me. I had my little breakdown before the breakthrough moment. I went through a bout of depression. There’s a lot of stuff that was going on in my life at that point in time. Instead of going on heavy antidepressants, I found myself in life coaching courses, learning neuro-linguistic programming, social dynamics, Carnegie principle and positive psychology. I was trying to get to the root cause of what I was going through rather than putting a Band-Aid over the top of it in terms of medication. I knew a lot of people were on that stuff and I didn’t want to walk around like a zombie.

I wanted to get the root cause of my psychology. I found myself in these life coaching courses, walking on fire, hugging it out, high fiving strangers on weekends, breaking boards and arrows, and bending bars. You cry on my shoulder and I cry on your shoulder. You know how it goes in a personal development events. It was a friend of mine at the time said, “Why don’t you teach this stuff?” That helped compartmentalize where I was going through and I summed up the courage. It was the big domino that I had to push over in my life to gain courage. I put on an event. It was crap compared to my TED Talk and what I do now. Admittedly, I was scared, but it was the thing I saw as the speaker talk. I thought, “I fucking do that. I can do anything.” I grew up quite shy, but people would rather be in the box than give the eulogy. People are more fearful of public speaking and fricking shots.

I put on a talk. Some of them were close friends of mine, and about halfway through that talk, I shared with everyone the fact that I’d had a list to do before I die. It was written down since I was eighteen. It inspired people because it went from a crappy seminar to a not so crappy seminar. In the end, Joe, one of the participants said, “How’s all this list to-do before you die stuff? It’s like a bucket list. You’re The Bucket List Guy.” It is a light bulb moment. That night, I went home and registered TheBucketListGuy.com and I’ve been doing that ever since. I am running around the world, primarily as a speaker and inspiring others to do the same. The whole philosophy is founded on positive psychology and that is the science of happiness to help people have more meaning, more purpose, and more fulfillment in life. That’s what it’s all about. I put this cool bucket list brand over the top of it and essentially, it’s positive psychology.

One thing that you did and put it in perspective for me anyway is the grid. You said with the average age of a man in Australia was. I looked it up what it is in the United States and it’s 78. These are behind me now. What’s in front of me is small in terms of those years I have left to be active and do things that will scare me a little bit, which is always fun. When you did that, I was like, “It’s time to get real because I’m running out of time, essentially.” That was a great way of putting it. I was talking with our producer, Lauren about this, and she’s got a lot more time than I do.

What I want to know is if you’re The Bucket List Guy, how many bucket list things do you have on your list? Can you count them?

I’ve done about 300 things and I’ve got about another 350 to 400 things to do.

With your life experience and then with age, do you take off things and add things onto your bucket list? You’re like, “That’s no longer relevant. I don’t even have a passion for that anymore, but this is up there now.”

I’ll give an example. I went to the Advance Base Camp on Mount Everest. I went there with my dad. That’s a whole other story because of my bucket list, I am adopted, my dad and I weren’t the best of mates growing up. He’s a fitter and turner, a mechanic by trade, and the same job since he was sixteen to retirement. He’s a worker’s worker, a manly man. Me, a young adopted son and a serial entrepreneur. He still doesn’t understand what I do. Since his retirement, he came on a lot of my adventures with me, and now we’re best friends. The cool thing is we went to Mount Everest Base Camp. It was the first thing that I ever wrote on that list to do before I die.

We found ourselves as part of an expedition team with people who were going to the summit. We could tag along, peel off at base camp or go to Advanced Base Camp and peel off. Dad and I went along to that, but I’d got to Advanced Base Camp at 5,500 meters. At 6,500 meters, in between Camps 2 and 3 on the Nepalese side, I had always shocking. My head was struck. I had altitude sickness badly, but my dad was fine. I quickly scrubbed summit Mount Everest off my bucket list. We’ve got three bucket lists. We’ve all got a reverse bucket list, which is our done list.

When you cross it off, you get that overwhelming sense of gratitude. What do I get people to start? How do I start people writing a bucket list? Think of all the cool stuff they’ve already done in their life. They’re on a bucket list all the way along and get them to recognize that. It gives people a good, solid, grateful foundation in order to plan and design going forward. We’ve got the reverse bucket list. We’ve got the future bucket list, which is what people refer to as the bucket list. We also got a fuck-it list. That’s all the stuff that was on another list and you’ve gone, “Not that.” Summiting Mount Everest is on that list for me now.

That’s incredible that you got up to the Advanced Base Camp. That in itself is a huge bucket list. I know a lot of people are scared to do that. A lot of people want to do it, but it’s not all fun and games is it? You have to be in great shape. You have to be physically active and ready to take on the elements.

Even mountaineers get balanced so much. I went up with a full-on expedition team, we’re on the Tibetans inside. Tibet is a polar opposite to Australia and the US. If you’ve never been through Tibet, it’s the most amazing country ever. Spoiler alert, you can drive a bus to base camp on the Tibetan side. What they say is whatever you do when you get out of that bus and you go to set up a tent at base camp, don’t pick up your stuff because you’re at seriously high altitude. A lot of people don’t make it past base camp. What we did is we walked from base camp through the main place that comes off Mount Everest through the Interim Camp and then to Advanced Base Camp. That’s when it gets serious. That’s where all the mountaineers set up their base camps to be inclined.

What now is at the top of your list in terms of travel?

[bctt tweet=”Be a tourist in your hometown first, and do it with your family.” via=”no”]

I’ve done five of Man Made Wonders of the World and I’ve got two to go. I’ve got Petra in Jordan and Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro to go. I’ve done the Taj Mahal in India and Machu Picchu. I did that on my 40th birthday with my dad after completing the Inca Trail. That was on my bucket list for my 40th birthday. It was spiritual. That was my midlife crisis. I went to the Colosseum in Italy in 2019. The Seven Man Made Wonders of the World and the Seven Natural Wonders of the World are on my bucket list.

How many natural wonders of the world have you had?

It’s only two.

You’ve got some traveling to do.

I’ve got to hurry up.

Let’s talk a little bit about Australia and some bucket list items in Australia. What are some that you would recommend either take it by region or a city? What are some things that when people come to your beautiful country, they should think about doing?

I love this. The Australian government should be paying me to be a board of tourism here. You got to climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Be a tourist in your hometown first. It’s about choosing happiness and do it with your family. Everyone is reconnected with their family too. They’re exploring places around their backyard that they didn’t even seem possible. We’ve taken up full-on mountain biking in our family.

The classics, climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge, which is awesome. It’s an amazing view. American and Bondi Beach, you got to do that. For ladies and anyone else inclined, you got the Bondi lifeguards. It’s sad, but it’s a real thing. Bondi Beach is an excellent quintessential Australian beach. Where I live, I’m in South Australia in a state called Victoria on about twenty minutes away from the start of the Great Ocean Road. The Great Ocean Road winds its way across a long down the coast to a place called Warrnambool. You’ll see what we call the Twelve Apostles there. It’s sandstone carvings from the waves. It’s rough down there. We go down there to surf. There are some huge sharks and big great whales down there.

Could that be a bucket list item? Is there any way to swim with sharks?

No, it is. If you want to go to South Australia to do that, you can get in a cage. You can go to the Northern Territory, which is Darwin, Australia, and do the Cage of Death experience as well. In the Cage of Death, you’ll get into a prospect cylinder. It’s clear and a massive and a female crocodile gets in the water with you. It’s on my bucket list, but it scares the hell out of me.

What is that plastic make out of? Do you know?

The crocodile does this and you’re in there. It doesn’t help to wipe a steak in front of the thing.

You’re the chewy center of dessert.

I’ve seen how that plays out. My dog always gets to the middle of a chew toy.

I haven’t done it myself, but Uluru, the big red rock in the middle. You may want to Google it, but Australian aboriginals arguably are the oldest race, the earliest ancestors around the world. They were some of the first people reported to be walking the Earth. When you go out to the Northern Territory in a particular place called Alice Springs, which is one of our Northern states. You’ll learn about Aboriginal culture and it’s amazing. Every country has got Aboriginal culture and ours are treated with a lot of respect. There are some dodgy parts, but we do respect that culture. I am yet to fully explore that area myself.

It is the Northern Territory. You may want to fly into a place called Darwin, which is the capital of that state. You can swim with whale sharks. This is a thing on my bucket list. I’m sure you can do it down The Caribbean, Bahamas, and Mexico. That’s around Cancun and stuff. We can do it here in Australia in a place called Ningaloo Reef, which is the Northern part of Western Australia, which faces the Indian Ocean. You can also do that over in the Philippines. In Bondi Beach, if you’re a surfer, you got to surf all day. Bell Beach is where all the surf spots are and where I live as well. There’s the Great Barrier Reef. If you want to get here and dive the Barrier Reef, that is on a lot of people’s bucket lists. You want to do it in certain parts that aren’t sun-bleached.

What are the areas that are still in good shape?

DE 9 | Exploring Australia

Exploring Australia: When you cross something off, you get that overwhelming sense of gratitude.

The Barrier Reef is one of the Wonders of the World. It’s massive. It’s hard for me to pinpoint that, but that’s only a Google search away. You may also want to go to a place called Airlie Beach, which is where all the backpackers and where a lot of people launch off into the Great Barrier Reef from. That’s where a lot of the boats are. A place called Hamilton Island is cool if you got a little bit more money. That’s all in the Barrier Reef. One of the things that my parents have done, which is on my bucket list as well, is to hire a boat and cruise the Barrier Reef and all the beautiful islands. That’s epic. If you want to cruise, you can get a captain, your catamaran, and they can cook for you. You hire them on the boat. Get a bunch of friends, have an incredible time, don’t have a sober day for ten days.

Trav, we’re all going into winter and you guys are coming out of it. What season do you prefer best in Australia?

I’m in Melbourne. It is the most cosmopolitan city. Everyone would say this, but the other states don’t want to admit it. Melbourne is where the culture of Australia is. Sydney is a little bit more like LA, flashy. I reckon after traveling the world, Sydney is LA and Miami. The Gold Coast is like Miami. It’s like, “Look at me.” Melbourne is New York, Oregon and Austin. It’s a lot more cultured. We’ve got a lot of the Italians and the Greeks who come into Melbourne early and introduced their culture. Some of the best coffee in the world is Melbourne. If you’re a coffee snob like me, you may want to go to this place called Degraves Street. It is like Graffiti Alley. They’re licensed to do graffiti. We’ve got graffiti laneways. It’s cool and the fashion is right up there. It’s cosmopolitan and lots of weirdos. That’s exactly what you want.

That’s right up my alley. If you want to go out for a good meal in Melbourne, what’s your spot? What’s your go-to?

It depends on who I’m with, where I’m in, and what I’m up for, but there’s some amazing Japanese, Italian. As I said before, there are some amazing holes in the wall as well, where you can get random Lebanese food or there’s a whole variety of different stuff. When I travel, it’s like, “What’s Australian food?” “I don’t know.” We’re only 250 years old in Australia. That’s when Captain Cook settled here. We don’t have that atypical Australian food.

It’s international and a lot of Asian influences.

You can get everything. For me, it depends on where I’m at. One thing that we need a lot more of is Mexican food. I love Mexican food. There’s some good Mexican, but it’s not genuine. It is a little bit more Tex-Mex than real Mexican food. It’s the coffee culture, going after probably European flavors and stuff like that down here.

You talked about an amazing that you went to Mount Everest. Give us three other things outside of Australia that you’ve done as The Bucket List Guy that would pique people’s interest.

It’s funny when we talk about travel. I go to travel for adventures and experiences. You can go to a place and it is a vanilla experience. Have you ever been to Dusseldorf in Germany? It is bland. There’s a lot of socks and sandals, but I went there for the Eurovision Song Contest Final. It was madness. It was cool because this big gay rainbow advent came into Dusseldorf, which is strait-laced. A lot of automotive companies, engineers, and then come into town. That was a cool travel adventure experience to go to that.

I got to say, we don’t have your vision here in the States.

We don’t have it either.

It’s the world’s largest talent competition. If you watch it, I have friends in the UK and they’re all into it, no matter what. You’ve got to go live. That’s fun.

It was on the bucket list because it was lovely to watch it with all of our guy friends. We’d have big Eurovision parties for years and years. My partner in time, we’re like, “When we go to Europe, let’s go to Eurovision as well.” That was the impetus for doing that. You also crossed off another thing on my bucket list during that. In my first business, I didn’t travel that much. Being The Bucket List Guy, I sold off all my businesses and got out of the gyms and stuff that I had. That was around when Tim Ferris launched The 4-Hour Workweek. Another thing on my bucket is I’ve lunched with Tim Ferris when he came to Melbourne. At that time, when we were shifting to the online world and for me, freedom is one of my highest values. I’m sure you guys can appreciate that. If I don’t feel it and I’m not living true to my true values, my true potential. Me having these corporate leases and gyms and all that tied to me.

I sold them off when I got out of the personal training industry. I sold off all those gyms, got them to rebrand and all that. I went online and registered the bucket list. I was like, “How am I going to monetize this?” I don’t know. I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but it felt right. The fact is, and I didn’t do a lot of troubling until The Bucket List Guy. I went nuts as The Bucket List Guy and plus my travel was a text deduction. We research. We’ve got beyond me now. A couple of years ago, I started because of everything that I’ve taught. It’s helped a lot of people, wake up, stop Groundhog Day, get off the treadmill, design their life rather than living by default, living by design love rather than existing. I want people to live with more intention, more purpose. I’m also a Founder CEO of Certified Bucketlist Coach around the world too. Apart from being The Bucket List Guy, I’m also the Founder of this company. We’ve got a Certified Bucketlist Coach teaching my staff in 25 countries around the world.

If someone wants to reach out to you, your idea is amazing. If someone wants to find you and they want to learn a little bit more about Bucket Lists, how did they reach you? How do they find you?

They go to TheBucketListGuy.com. If you’re interested in becoming a coach, go to BucketListCoach.com. We run webinars on that every week.

We have some rapid-fire questions, but before we say that, I want to tell the readers to check out his TED Talk, check out his website. We could talk to you forever and you’re such a great person and a great speaker.

[bctt tweet=”The coolest thing about Coronavirus is that it has reconnected everyone with their family.” via=”no”]

The first question is, what has been your most impressive bucket list item? You gave us two already outside the US. Give us one more.

I’m going to jump straight to Kathmandu in Nepal.

Tell us about that.

It’s part of the old silk road. It is an eclectic bunch of backpackers and travelers and different religions and our members sitting upon this coffee shop, overlooking this bizarre and seeing the movement. It was awesome. I’m a coffee snob and you can appreciate this is discovering because discovering a local coffee sitting there watching the world go by. I remember sitting there having that appear funny moment, “This is a cool place and all the different little shops.”

That’s a bug and a lot of people don’t get to get there. It’s far out of the way.

You Americans have got to stop complaining about long plane rides. If I hear another American compliant about a long plane ride and that’s an excuse. Check this out. Australians, New Zealanders and with Saudi Arabians, believe it or not, we’ve got the largest number of passports per capita. In America, you have got the lowest number of passports per capita in the world. It’s everywhere has got to be like she put it into schools to teach people how to experience the world and how to get outside the comfort zone because it breeds tolerance.

You took the words out of my mouth. If you don’t travel, you don’t learn. It promotes ignorance if you don’t travel, without a doubt.

The next question is if you could live anywhere in the world for a year, where would it be travel?

This scares me too, but I’ll do some time in the US, more for business reasons, Thailand and Spain.

Spain is a great one. The next question is if you could travel with someone either infamous or famous, alive or dead, who would it be?

I’ll go back to the guy I mentioned before is Tim Ferris. When you meet people and what we call in Australia, he wasn’t a winker. He was a cool guy and he would get into some interesting places in the world. One thing he shares quite often is his experiences in Japan. I haven’t been to Japan yet either. Some weird and wonderful little nooks and crannies that you can get in out over there gets to the weird probably, but at the end of the day, Tim would be great. Kelly Slider, as we mentioned before, to be honest.

The last question for you when packing for a trip, what is something you pack that might surprise our readers?

Look at my AirPods. I branded my AirPods with The Bucket List Guy. I’ve been traveling and then I’ve bumped into people and I’ve said, “I’m The Bucket List Guy.” Before you know it, the next day I’m presenting. Somewhere I was presented, for instance, meetup groups, I’ll meet someone in a bar and I’ll say, “How long you’re in town for?” Half a week or something, they like, “What are you doing tomorrow afternoon?” I’m part of a meetup group or I’m part of a networking group or a business group. It doesn’t present it to a hundred people. I’m going to say, my clicker.

In the States, we say slide advancer. Trav, you are a great guest. We enjoyed this. What social media do you have? Are you on Instagram? If you’re traveling, I know you’re putting up pictures.

It is @BucketlistGuy.TravBell on Instagram. That’s probably my go-to drug of choice.

We will follow all your adventures there. Thank you, Trav. It was great to have you.

I was happy to do around two guys. We appreciate it.

DE 9 | Exploring Australia

Exploring Australia: Melbourne is where the culture of Australia is. Sydney is a little bit more like LA, flashy.

We could do a whole show with you.

From Melbourne, Trav, thank you.

I am thinking about what Trav said earlier. There was one thing that stuck out in my head and that was to create a grid. This is something that was on his YouTube channel. I mentioned it earlier was, that grid where in the US, the average male life span is 79 years old. It might even be 78. You create a grid with 78 spaces in it, and then you circle in a grid for every year that you’ve been born. When you look at that and realize that you are already past the curve on and how much time do you potentially have left, you’re like, “I’ve got to get going.”

You got to get out there and do those bucket list things.

There’s no time. Time is ticking.

Stay at those great hotels, go to those once in a lifetime destination, and do those once in lifetime things. Something that stuck out to me is his quote that, “People die at 40 and get buried at 80,” meaning that people stop living. They get sedate, they get their kids in school and they don’t do anything. You can do both. Our family tries to do that to try to have a fulfilling life experience while still having to manage all the craziness of being a family on a day-to-day basis. You get out there and see the world and Australia is a great place to do that. The things that Trav told us about, some of them, I didn’t even know that you can do in Australia. There are things we can add to our bucket lists from our conversation with him.

Let’s start talking about bucket lists. Trav had a couple of different types of bucket lists that have to do with travel and those things you’ve got to go see before your time is over. There’s much to go see and do. Andy, what are some of the things in Australia that you would add to the top of yours?

It is hard to choose because we had to pare down the list because there are many great things to do and many places to go. We had to come back, but there’s an epic road trip to Cape York in the Northeast part of Australia. It’s a journey to the Northernmost points. You drive through all these great different geological areas. It’s a great experience. You need a four-wheel-drive to do it. If you want to see what they call, “The Outback,” this is a place to go with hardly any cell service. If you want to be by yourself and get away from the rest of the world, this area to do it. The epic road trip to Cape York is a great first bucket list.

We would be remiss if we didn’t talk a little bit about the Great Barrier Reef and what an amazing destination that is. It’s so long that there’s a lot you can do. You need to pick a spot where you want to see it narrow that down and see what activities are around it. There’s scuba diving, boating, excursions, and then another great way to see it is a seaplane. If you’ve never been on a seaplane, they’re an amazing experience. You can take off and land in the water. The last time I was on was in Vancouver. You get low, you can see right through the water. You see the wildlife, but it is a major vantage point. I’ve recommend the seaplane if anybody that has the desire to do something a little different.

My next one is a place that we went to called Fraser Island. This location is beautiful. It’s 75 miles a beach. We’re in America or Europe, you see 75 miles of beautiful natural beach. It’s one of the most beautiful things about Australia is its nature is incredible. There are large limestone formations here, which make it spectacular. You can visit a shipwreck from 1935 that got shipwrecked on a cyclone, which was cool. It’s great for a day trip and you can camp there as well. If you’re in the mid-East part of Australia going to Fraser Island is a great option.

Probably one of the most photographed buildings ever would be the Sydney Opera House. Not only can you go see it by water, but we recommend doing the backstage tour of the Sydney Opera House. What’s great about this is you go beyond the exterior, you go into the orchestra pit, you go into the dressing rooms, green room, and other cool spots. You’ll learn a little bit more about the history and the performers that have been there, and then follow it with breakfast, add that to yours.

The Sydney Opera House is incredible. Almost everybody does when they go there. It’s one of those popular bucket list items, but it’s one that you got to do. You’ll see a huge archway over the bridge. You can clip-on and walk that entire thing. That’s an incredible thing to do in Sydney. We’re going to go South for my next bucket list to Tasmania, which I’d never been to, but my father has been. He said it was one of those life-changing experiences. There is a Tasmanian Devil. You remember that cartoon from we were kids. There’s a Tasmanian mammal. My bucket list is I’m staying at the luxury resort, the Saffire Freycinet, which is an old suite luxury. It offers amazing luxury experiences, not the hotel itself, but also all the activities that they do. They have trips to oyster farms, cooking demonstrations, beekeeping and visiting with Tasmanian Devil. This place is incredible. If you get to Tasmania and you want to look at it for a special place to stay, look it up online. A lot of people call it the Saffire.

I want to go to the Gold Coast, which is in the East. There is the Byron Bay Hinterland. You could travel to Nightcap National Park. It’s also known as the magic forest, which is a great name. You can do waterfalls and swim in lakes. At night, you can experience luminous glow worms as they illuminate the caves, which is cool.

Talk about a natural wonder, that’s amazing. Something that Todd and I have done in Mexico, but we didn’t do it when we were in Australia, was swimming with whale sharks. You can do that in the Midwest. Trav mentioned this. It’s the largest fish in the ocean so it’s not a shark. It’s the ones with a big open mouth. They feed on the krill and they get huge. It’s popular there from March to the end of July. If you’re there during that time, it’s a quintessential Australian experience and one thing that you should put on your list.

It is in the Ningaloo reef.

Put that on your bucket list.

You may not think of this when you’re in Australia, but you could do a sunset camel ride on Cable Beach in Broome, which is the Northwest and amazingly beautiful sunsets. Australia is known for its wildlife, the camel’s not what comes to mind, but their evening camel parades, they go across the beach. You can ride your own or enjoy the parade and watch other people on the camels and watch the camels themselves. It is a unique thing that you wouldn’t think of when you think of Australia.

[bctt tweet=”Experience the world and get outside the comfort zone because it breeds tolerance.” via=”no”]

You think of doing that somewhere in Dubai or somewhere in the Middle East. There’s another bucket list item that I didn’t get to do, but I saw this and I’m like, “We need to talk about this.” It is a helicopter ride above the fluorescent pink waters of Lake Hillier. The colors are a result of the high salinity combined with the algae species there. It’s a pink bacteria. It’s called halobacteria. While it’s safe to swim in, the lake is only accessible to researchers. The helicopter ride is a unique way to see the sight. Google this if you’re interested because it is truly a spectacular sight when you’re seeing it from above the lake.

There’s also another great area south of Melbourne and it’s the Mornington Peninsula. It is more of a leisure place to visit. It’s a low-key Australian experience, but they have winery tours, small-town shopping, golf courses, things like that. I hate to say but my parents would like Mornington. It’s not an extreme adventure, but it’s a great way to immerse yourself in another part of Australian life.

Last but not least everyone has heard of the Northern Lights, but did you know that there are Southern Lights that you can view from Australia? If you’ve already checked those off your bucket list, definitely put this on your bucket list. These lights are known as the Aurora Australis, like Aurora Borealis. That is something that you want to put on your bucket list and something that is not well known.

If you want to immerse yourself in something unique to Australia is find an amazing Aboriginal experience. The Aborigines are the indigenous people in Australia. Some say they’ve been around longer than everybody else, but there is the Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival. They strike animal forms and they do chants, but it’s supposed to be amazing and it’s only every two years. You need to plan ahead. It doesn’t happen every year. It’s held in the township of Laura, which is about 317 kilometers north of Cairns. It’s supposed to be amazing. They get about 5,000 visitors a year. I find an experience like that to check out while you’re there.

Those are our top ten bucket list items for Australia. We know we’re going to be back a lot more.

Are you ready to book your hotel for your next company event or family adventure? Let AMI help. We have ongoing relationships with all major hotel chains and access to over 200,000 hotels. Why us? We receive special promotions before they hit the open market. We make significant cost savings to you. Go to Destination-Everywhere.com, and click the Source Now button. Let us get to work for you.

This has been such a great show because it’s been about bucket lists. We didn’t choose a hotel destination this time. We’ll do that when we go back to Australia, but what I’d loved about this is having an expert like Trav, who made the life decision to develop a life plan around experiencing life. He calls it the bucket list plan, but it’s about getting out there and experiencing life. Not getting into the old habit of not traveling or not seeing the world and not being educated and not experiencing in and of itself. If you’re interested in that, he’s got a great book called My Bucketlist Blueprint, and we recommend it to you. it helps develop a blueprint for you of what you can do from now until you’re into retirement and how you can create a bucket list plan for yourself. I highly recommend Trav’s book.

It’s a shift in mindset. “Live for today sometimes is the easiest way to say it.” That concludes our show. We want to thank some special members of our team. Make sure you subscribe, rate and review the show on your preferred app or by going to www.Destination-Everywhere.com. We look forward to speaking with you in the next episode.

Thanks, everybody.

Important Links:

About Travis Bell

DE 9 | Exploring AustraliaTrav Bell is The Bucket List Guy…The Worldʼs #1 Bucket List Expert.

As a self-appointed ʻBucket Listologistʼ, Trav has obsessively studied the Bucket List phenomenon & blended the worldʼs best Positive Psychology principles to create his own unique Bucket List Life Philosophy. He has designed his life around his Bucket List and now he helps Bucket Listers all over the globe create and cross off theirs.

A Bucket List is a tangible reason ʻWhyʼ. A Life Plan that has the power to transform every area of your life. It will help to decrease lifeʼs distractions & increase your focus on what truly makes you happy. But this is way more than just writing a simple list. This is about the journey youʼll experience in the process of achieving your list & about the person you become in the process.

Trav says he has a special super-power! His super-power is to stop people just existing, stop ʻground-hogʼ days, stop waiting for ʻsomedayʼ or ʻthe perfect timingʼ to come around. He wakes people up, gets them off the treadmill of life & helps them to start living life on purpose.

Before Trav became ʻThe Bucket List Guyʼ, he built a chain of personal training studios across Australia. Starting with 1 client, he & his team went on to do over a million personal training sessions & motivated 10’s of 1000’s clients. This is the foundation for why Trav is now regarded as one of Australiaʼs foremost Personal Development Speakers & Life Coaches.

Described as “infectiously motivating”, Trav always brings fresh stories to each seminar & event he does because heʼs out there practicing what he preaches. His ʻcrazyʼ Bucket List adventures are hilarious & truly inspirational.

Trav will show how to prevent regret & start living your list before itʼs too late!

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Vermont

Vermont

Get out your Vermont travel map as we visit Vermont resorts and give you venue and destination suggestions in the Green Mountain State. We talk about Vermont’s unique authenticity, the many places and activities it offers, and, most importantly, its great people. We venture inside the Ben & Jerry’s factory, where we learn about the important work Ben & Jerry’s is doing towards social justice. From its famous covered bridges to its burgeoning craft beer scene, Vermont is a great destination for business, meetings, and many other reasons. Join us for a tour of your next exciting destination — Vermont, a majestic beauty.

Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth are travel and hospitality entrepreneurs and owners of the global meetings organization, American Meetings, Inc. From sourcing meeting venues in Vermont, to corporate event management around the world, their team selects corporate event venues and meeting planners for a wide array of enterprise business clients, providing ideas for convention themes and strategies for running global meetings and events. Learn more at www.americanmeetings.com.

Watch the episode here:

Vermont

Vermont, ice cream with a cause and keeping Vermont weird. A place lost in time and more cows than people are easy ways to describe the green mountain state, yet it is much more. From its famous covered bridges to its burgeoning craft beer scene, Vermont is a bucket list destination for many reasons. It’s a four-season playground with award-winning bed and breakfasts, impressive hotels and outdoor activities any time of year. A popular local shirt states, “Keep Vermont Weird.” This conveys the unique authenticity of the inhabitants of one of the smallest states in the union in both size and population. Its people are one of the many reasons it’s a bucket list must. From bustling cities to the smallest of towns, you can find unlimited experiences wrapped in the majestic beauty of her green mountains. In this episode, join us for a flavorful conversation with Ben & Jerry’s Grand Poobah PR Sean Greenwood. Sean will share some bucket-list secrets on the best way to experience a trip to the Ben & Jerry’s factory, discuss celebrities with whom they have partnered and the company’s important work towards social justice. Grab your bike and your snowmobile, and let’s head to the Green Mountain State. Welcome to this episode, Vermont: Ice Cream With a Cause and Keeping Vermont Weird.

We’re glad to have you here for a special episode because we’re going somewhere that is special to us, which is the State of Vermont. It’s an incredible state. If you haven’t been, you’ve got to go. We’ve been coming for years. It’s a four-season destination. Every time of the year, there’s something to do. Nowhere else in the world better to see the fall foliage. Vermont is where we’re going and it’s going to be incredible. Todd, what are some of your experiences that you’ve had and why do you think you love it so much? What makes Vermont special? 

It’s one of the coolest places because I’ve seen it during all seasons. Vermont is an all-season state, summer, spring, fall and winter, there’s always something to do here. In Downtown Burlington, there’s Church Street and just walking up and down it is amazing. There are lights above it and when it snows, it’s pretty. When it’s summer there are street performers. Whenever I’m here, I’d like to go down to Church Street to just sit, hang out and people watch. 

It’s one of the smallest states in the union and there are only about 700,000 people in the State of Vermont. It’s rural but that’s what makes it beautiful. One of the interesting things I always thought was great about Vermont is you’ll never see a billboard. There are no billboards on the freeways, which speaks to the culture here but also magnifies the beauty of the state. The rolling hills, the mountains, and the lakes make it a special place. If you haven’t been, it’s only a four-hour drive from Boston. It’s a six-hour drive from New York City. 

That’s a four-hour drive to the Canadian border. That’s all the way on the Northern end of Vermont and six hours from New York, all the way to the Canadian border. Another great thing about Vermont is it borders Quebec. On the Southern side of Quebec, there’s much to see, but we’re going to stay in Vermont for this episode. 

What’s always interesting about Quebec is you go over the border and all of a sudden everyone speaks French. No one speaks English but it’s incredibly beautiful. We’ll do a special on Quebec sometime soon. Back to Vermont, we got the entire state to look at. We’re going to look at our bucket list items. We’ve got a special guest as well, Sean Greenwood from Ben & Jerry’s. He’s the Grand Poobah of Public Relations for them. He’s going to tell us a little bit about why you should come to visit the factory here and what you can do there. It’s going to be a great interview. We also have great places to stay. We’ve got a lot going on for Vermont. We’re going to take you from the Southern end of the state all the way to the Northern end of the state. 

Are you ready to book your hotel for your next company event or family adventure? Let AMI help. We have ongoing relationships with all major hotel chains and access to over 200,000 hotels. Why us? We receive special promotions before they hit the open market, meaning significant cost savings to you. Go to Destination-Everywhere.com and click the Source Now button. Let us get to work for you.

We’d like to welcome Sean Greenwood from Ben & Jerry’s. Sean has provided communication strategies for the company’s global climate Save Our Swirled initiative. Sean quarterback the launch of The Tonight Dough, starring Jimmy Fallon of The Tonight Show. He co-hosted alongside comedian Michelle Buteau the launch event for Ben & Jerry’s new partnership and flavor with Netflix called Netflix & Chill’d. He managed communication strategy for the company to dismantle white supremacy. 

We’d like to welcome Sean Greenwood. Welcome, Sean. Thank you for joining us. 

How cool to be here. I love that you are already here. Look behind you, you can smell ice cream in the air.

We like to make our guests feel at home. What can we say? We hope we do it and we’re huge customers and champions of Ben & Jerry’s. It’s a great product and a great brand. We’re glad to have you on the show. 

It’s kind of you to have me. We love talking about what we do.

You’ve got bucket list experiences as your job. Based on what I’m seeing, you’ve worked with Sir Elton John, Ziggy Marley, Stephen Colbert, Nike. You’ve been doing this over 30 years for Ben & Jerry’s. 

I was lucky. Everybody who’s been around that long, we talk. It’s a good thing we got in when we did because now you need talent to work here. I started in 1988 and Jerry was hanging out with the chairperson of our board. Jerry said, “Jeff, remember the class of 1988? We would take anybody with a pulse.” It’s nice to know you’re appreciated after three decades of work.

What are Ben and Jerry like as individuals? I’m sure our readers would love to know from someone that knows them personally. 

I went for a walk with Jerry who tries to do an old man’s exercise. We were up at 7:30 and went for a 4 or 5-mile walk. They’re great guys. They’re good people. Their idea was, “Let’s use business for something positive and try to do good things with it.” They make a fun dessert and make great ice cream. Ben’s always said, “A business is the most powerful source in our society to be able to get anything done. That’s where all the money goes. Let’s try to do some good stuff.” That was the beginning of the Ben & Jerry’s mission.

You’re talking about the social justice piece of what Ben & Jerry’s is focused on. They have a great product, but they also focus on making things better in the world overall. Tell us a little bit about that. Tell us what your focus is. There are many things that you could choose. How do you choose the ones that you’re going to focus on?

There’s a lot of need in the world whether you’re here in Vermont locally or across the country. One of the things is it’s not a nonprofit business. We’re a for-profit business, but the mission is three parts, product and making great desserts. Also, the economic piece is making a fair return, but it’s not about maximizing shareholder return. The idea is like, “Let’s make sure we do this in a fun way.” It serves our company mission and gives back to the community. That’s the big difference because there are a lot of great ice creams out there, but Ben & Jerry’s believes in saying, “Let’s go out there and make sure we use some of those profits and the voice so we can make a difference in the world.”

DE 4 | Vermont

Vermont: There are a lot of great ice creams out there, but Ben & Jerry’s makes use of some of their profits and their voice to make a difference in the world.

What are some of the things you’re working on?

The big one is we’re switching over. Racial justice is the one we’ve been working on for months. We had a flavor out called Justice ReMix’d. It’s a great flavor of spicy brownies that were made special for this campaign. The idea is, in a nutshell, criminal justice reform in our country. There are many people in prison. We have 5% of the world’s population, but 20% to 25% of the world’s prison population. Countries that you’d say like, “Look at regimes like China or Russia.” You’re like, “No, we have way more people in prison than those people,” which is an amazing thing. When you start looking into it and researching it, what you learn is there are a lot of people who are there because they’re poor. They couldn’t afford bail and couldn’t get out. They get caught up in this system even though they’ve never been convicted of anything. There are also minor offenses like marijuana possession that 25 states have some laws either of legalize use or some way that it’s legal in their states. Those things that we think unfairly affect people of color, much more than they do for white people. It’s one of the things we try to work on. We’re focusing on that one area for years. It’s that criminal justice.

You’ve got your pulse on what’s happening. You were doing that even before everything that’s happening during COVID. You had your pulse and you chose it. You’re a step ahead of the game.

I remember back in 2009, marriage equality passed here in Vermont and it was the first state to pass it through the legislature. You had a campaign and it was the Hubby Hubby campaign after your Chubby Hubby flavor. I thought that was groundbreaking at the time and even to this day. You saw online and people write hateful comments. In my opinion, every single time you’re in the right, but how do you deal with that negative? You’ve never bowed down, which is amazing to me. 

When you take action that’s consistent with your values, people can say they don’t like it, but they can’t say that’s wrong because we believe in doing that. Ever since I started working with the company in the late ‘80s, we were one of the first national businesses in the US to give health benefits to same-sex partners. It hadn’t happened before then. I remember an interview with Inc. magazine that Jerry was interviewed saying, “Why are you such a gay-friendly company?” Jerry said, “We’re not gay-friendly. We’re friendly that we want to treat everybody with the same respect that we want to be treated with.” I’m a young guy then in my early twenties. I’m growing up and I’m learning about all these things that Ben & Jerry’s believe in. You’re working beside people and you’re going like, “They want to go out and march on the street because there’s a local pride parade.” You go, “I want to stick up for them, so we’re going to march with them.” That’s the belief at Ben & Jerry’s. We’re going to take to the street for those things that we care about.

We started to do that and people would say like, “Why does an ice cream company involved in sticking up for those people in the LGBTQ community or taking a stance on same-sex issues like same-sex marriage?” We’re just sticking up for our coworkers. We had gay people that were working for the company then. Since then, we’ve done a lot of those. I was looking at my pints that I have up here in my office. This was the decision you’re talking about. It says, “I Dough I Dough” pint that we put out. I’ve worked on the Hubby Hubby campaign. There were four of us there that worked on that and came up with the idea and put that into place. The idea is sometimes you want to stand up on the soapbox and shout about what you believe in because you feel it helps in terms of equity. Sometimes we do things because we think it’s the right thing to do. With marriage equality, it’s one of the things we’ve been loud and vocal about to say, “We believe in this.”

Your question of saying, “There are going to be haters that come in.” When my name is on the press release and I’ll get a lot of those emails, a lot of times, the first 24 or 48 hours, you’re going to get a lot of hatred from a lot of people who are not in support of what you’re doing. I put that in one folder on my computer that the consumer services team can help us get back to say, “I appreciate you sharing your feedback. We feel differently about this.” After that, you also get a big string of people who are going, “I’m buying two pints tonight because of what you did.” You get those heartfelt emails. I remember when we did the I Dough, I Dough campaign, I got a letter from a woman who was in the Midwest and she said, “I’m talking to my daughter and I’m telling my wife that there’s an ice cream company in Vermont that cares about us as a couple. We’re going to come to visit someday.” Those are the things that you hold on to because you know it’s the right thing. It matches our values and that’s why we do it.

Continue to do it because it’s making a difference. 

One of the things I would like to be on my bucket list that you say you get to do is you get to be a taste tester. I don’t know if people get to be taste testers, but I’m curious about that. I want to go into how people can visit the factory itself. Tell us how you as an employee and a longtime partner over there at Ben & Jerry’s gets to be a taste tester. How fun is that.

It is no coincidence. I walk out this office store, turn five steps and then turn right ten steps and the Research & Development Lab is right there behind. This is not an accident, when you get to choose your office you want to be close by. The other thing you can do is even if you’re not part of that official project, you can walk by the window real slow and looking. Occasionally, you’ll get the, “Come on in and try out what’s going on.” Our employees are ice cream aficionados. If you put a flavor in our freezers, one of the benefits of working at Ben & Jerry’s, you get three free pints a day for every employee here at the headquarters. If it doesn’t get taken, then you know it’s not going to work out on the shelves. Our people know good ice cream. The chance to be able to be involved like I was sampling some top-secret new dough chunks that we’ve been doing in the last few years. It’s the Cookie Dough that people say, “I want to try eating that.” We put that in a bag and you can find it in your frozen food section in your supermarket. I try a new flavor of those that we’re working with one of our partners. It’s all about the food.

I was looking on your website. I saw you have a recipes page for extended recipes of your already great ice cream. Some of them were quite creative. We’re going to try some.

To cook with ice cream and to find bread pudding recipe. There are some fun recipes that way. During the COVID time, we’ve been trying to do some other recipes on there, and even have our flavor gurus who make and innovate flavors. They have done videos at home with their own kids so people can get on and watch with their kids and get involved. There’s a dessert book that’s out. You can find the Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book. If you have one of those home ice cream makers, it’s a great time right now, especially in Vermont with fresh fruit. You go out and get blueberries or strawberries or all of that. You can make these great ice cream flavors. Check out that Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book. It’s pretty cool.

Can you tell people what a K9-5ers is? 

K9-5ers is the term because we have a dog-friendly office. We’ve closed our corporate office down here in Burlington because of COVID. We want people to stay safe and healthy, and we’ll get back to work at the office when it’s healthy. We have a dog-friendly office. Usually, any day you come in, there will be anywhere from 10 to 30 dogs here in the building. The idea is we’re looking for a fun term to be able to give to that group, so K9-5ers are what they’re known as.

All the dogs are on your web site with their photos and their names that I’ve seen. It was cool. We used to have a dog-friendly office and we moved.

It’s amazing how it takes away the stress. The hard part is you have to remind people when they’re giving a tour of the office. They walk by and they’re like, “Here’s Pontch and he’s a French bulldog.” You’re like, “Talk about Pontch’s owner. Introduce her too because we don’t want to give all the dogs the love.”

Let’s talk about the tour because if you come to Vermont, no matter whether you’re from Northern Vermont or even if you’re coming from New Hampshire or Massachusetts, Ben & Jerry’s factory is iconic. The people of Vermont take great pride and knowing that you are there. It’s a must-see, whenever anybody comes here, everybody’s like, “Did you go to the Ben & Jerry’s factory?” Can you talk a little bit about the experience that people get when they walk through the factory and then what’s around it, including the graveyard, which has an interesting little piece to see of the chef?

[bctt tweet=”Mansfield has one of the best bike trails in the entire state that goes right through the center of the town.” via=”no”]

We love the spa. It’s where I started working there. My first job was working out at the Waterbury plant and driving the truck around scooping ice cream at events, and then giving tours there. I’m fond of the place and all the people that are there in Waterbury. For Destination Everywhere readers that are going like, “I’m coming now.” We do have the scoop shop open there. You can stop and get your ice cream. We do have the grounds open, so you can walk around. You can have a place to sit down. There are a couple of fun things to see. It’s not only the background behind you, Todd, that’s our front patio view. It’s colorful and there’s some fun stuff. Our Flavor Graveyard is where we retire any Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavors that no longer exist in the virtual world. It’s a chance to be able to go and pay respects to your dearly de-pinted flavors we call them sometimes and have a little fun that way. In terms of social mission, there’s a great art exhibit that you would’ve seen there on the walkway. It’s all people who were previously incarcerated who did this higher. It’s a whole wall of it there. We’ve turned that over.

In 2019, it was about Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign from 50 years previous. We had an exhibit there on loan from the Smithsonian that we showed off to support that idea of racial justice and around criminal justice to say that’s what we want to do. When we know we have hundreds of thousands of people coming by every year, just them walking by to be able to see this and say, “Let’s have a conversation about that. That’s why we put those things out.” You can stop in. There is a tour that exists. The inside tour to see where ice cream is made is on hold because of safety’s and we’ve got to wait until everyone’s safe to go in. You’ll have to jump on our website and look it up to see if and when the hold on COVID is still going on, or when we do lift that.

You have a gift shop as well so that you can get your favorite merchandise. What else? Is there anything else there that’s unique that our readers may not know about?

There is a little bit about innovation station checkout and hear what our latest campaigns are. There is a booth outside that’s set up so that people can still get some souvenirs and stuff to be able to take home. It’s a great town. One of the things for Ben & Jerry’s is we’re thrilled that fans want to come to see us, but it’s also about Vermont. A lot of people who may not live in Vermont are coming up to visit, have a chance to be able to go try maple syrup and got great cheese and great craft beer. Waterbury has such a great little community restaurant. There’s a lot of progressive stuff that you can do. If you are coming up, any of your readers who are planning a day trip or a weekend, look around because there’s some great stuff to be able to see in Vermont.

To that point, other than Ben & Jerry’s, what are some of your other favorite things that you do in Vermont personally, that you would say if someone’s coming to see you. What else should they do that they have to do? 

I liked getting out on two wheels. If you’re a motorcycler, coming right up on Route 100 is one of the most beautiful roads in the state. It’s always called out on these motorcycle magazines saying it’s one of the best rides. You don’t have to do it on a motorcycle. You can do it on four wheels, but getting wind breeze blowing by you is an enjoyable thing on the motorcycle or the convertible. That’s a great road, Route 100. Summer is always a great time in Vermont too. Getting out on a boat. We’ve got Lake Champlain right here in Burlington. That’s a good size lake that offers a lot of great things. We’re about visitors. We want people to come to see Vermont, try the products out, see the leaves, play in the snow, go skiing any time of the year.

There’s so much to do.

Jay Peak.

We keep saying it’s an all-season state. Winter, fall, spring, summer, there’s always something to do here. Whether it’s an intense or extreme thing like skiing and snowmobiling around the state. I’m noticing this summer a lot of the side-by-sides, which are the four-wheel all-terrain vehicles. I’m seeing those out on the back roads. There’s a huge infrastructure for those things around here. It’s amazing. You can’t be bored and if you are, you’ve got your priorities a little whacked out. There’s always something to do here. Get outside of Vermont. 

Sean, before we let you go, we have some rapid-fire questions we’re going to ask you around your travel habits.

Should I stretch out?

Make sure that’s nice and loose. The readers love to learn from our guests about what they like to do and their secrets. The first one is, have you ever completed anything on your bucket list? If so, what was it? 

Yes, entirely because of Ben & Jerry’s. Many years ago, they created that little Ben & Jerry’s balloon that you see up there. I went for a hot air balloon ride because of this corporate program that we were doing and loved it. I ended up getting trained to go fly a hot air balloon. Now, I own a hot air balloon and that was a bucket list thing to go for a hot air balloon ride. I took it to eleven, as they would say, “It’s Spinal Tap” to become a hot air balloon pilot. It was a cool experience.

You’re here so you’ve landed safely. 

I’ve flown up in the Kingdom before. I’ve flown in Barnard, launched near Newport, Vermont. There are lots of great places up there.

Is that balloon still around? 

Yeah. Those two balloons that you see there are still in existence. They’re in Scotland. I bought my own. I’ve got one that I keep at home in a trailer and love to pull out and go jump in.

DE 4 | Vermont

Vermont: Route 100 is one of the most beautiful roads in the state. It’s always called out as one of the best rides.

Number two is if you could live anywhere in the world for a year, where would it be?

I’ve never been to Australia and I’ve been fortunate to be able to travel for work a handful. Japan was an incredible place to visit and Singapore. I love Europe. I could be happy there anytime, but I have not done Australia and I would love to be there for a year.

It takes about a year to see the whole country for sure. If you could travel with someone infamous or famous, who would it be? 

Do you know who I’ve been reading a lot on because we lost him? I heard the term instead of rest in peace, it’s rest in power. It’s Representative John Lewis. We were fortunate to have John Lewis come up to Ben & Jerry’s last fall and stopped in because we’ve been working on a project together. There will be more information. Stay tuned around that. The man was an incredible civil rights leader. The more I read and learn about him and hear his story from being a young man and participating in the Freedom Rides to how he stayed committed to nonviolent protest and to acting with class. I would love to have either a piece of history or maybe the second time around. He would be a tremendous individual to spend a little more time with.

Here’s a fun one. When packing for your trip, what is something you pack that may surprise our readers?

Beard trimmer is probably not going to surprise them at this point.

You didn’t have used it in a while. 

It’s COVID. We have a little bit of allowance. One of the things I often pack with whether it’s individual or traveling with my family is a big power strip with half a dozen outlets. A lot of times you get to a hotel and you get there and each of the kids has their phone and they need to charge and you have your laptop and all of a sudden, you’re all fighting over two outlets.

It’s a great one. I haven’t heard that one before. 

Big power strip with six plugs.

They cause many family arguments.

The last one is what is your most memorable experience in Vermont? I know you’re a local, so it’s hard, but do you have anything that stands out? 

The first thing that comes to mind when you say is my Ben & Jerry’s experience in Vermont was a retired couple was coming up from Massachusetts back when I was giving tours. This is the late ’80s, early ’90s, and befriended them. They were the only two people on my tour one time. I got to talk with them and get to know them. We get three free pints a day so I brought them my three pints at the end. We got to the lobby and I said, “Hold on.” I came out and said, “Here, take my three pints.” They were going to visit their daughter in Stowe. They ended up writing a nice letter to the company saying, “This young man is nice.” We went and going back and forth with letters. They would visit in every couple of years. One time, I got a page to the lobby and I go down. There’s this woman that’s 35 years old. I’d never met her and she introduced herself saying she was the daughter of the parents, and the father had passed away from cancer. Right before he had passed away about 3 to 6 months before our Research & Development Lab was cleaning out their closets. They have everyone sending them candies, chunks, chocolates and brownies, and all this stuff flavorings. They had a table full of this stuff. It’s all these little bottles. I knew this guy was an ice cream maker at home. That was his hobby.

I gathered up a box up and shipped it to him at home. I didn’t know he had cancer at that point. His daughter was like, “The last couple of months of his life, he would go out into his little workshop out behind their house in Massachusetts and make ice cream.” He had said to her, “Who would have thought an ice cream company would have cared enough to reach out and send stuff like this?” To me, it was like, “That’s the job I get to do with Ben & Jerry’s.” I get to connect with people and how lucky of a career is that.

Sean, we want to thank you and thank you for your commitment to social justice, for what you’re doing personally, and what Ben & Jerry’s is doing as a company and as a corporate partner. It’s incredible. We want to also thank you. You are going to supply a swag bag to one of our readers. If you’re reading, go to Destination-Everywhere.com and sign up. You could win a swag bag from Sean and his team at Ben & Jerry’s. Sean, we can’t thank you enough. Thank you for your time. We’ll be down sometime soon to take a tour and eat some ice cream. 

We look forward to seeing you there and all your readers to stop into. Give us a shout. Thanks for having me.

Thanks, Sean. Take care.

[bctt tweet=”If you’re an avid mountain biker, some of the best mountain biking in the state can be found in Vermont.” via=”no”]

Sean is an awesome guy to interview because he’s passionate about what he does, but I loved hearing everything that he had to say about the company and his experiences. He’s raised here in Vermont. It was a good conversation we have with him. 

He gave those insight of what you can do when you go. Add that to your bucket list. You will be grateful that you did. It’s going to be a lot of fun and a great experience for you to come to Vermont and put that on your bucket list. We’re going to go talk about our bucket list now. 

Let’s go into some of these things that we’ve done around the state. Vermont, it’s a long state. It’s wide at the top. It’s narrower at the bottom. Vermont borders New Hampshire on one side, New York on the other, and then down South, you have Massachusetts. There’s a lot around it. The access is easy, but you fly into Burlington. That’s what most people do. Let’s talk a little bit about the Northern part. Let’s go with Burlington. You fly in and you’re close to a lot. It’s the largest city in Vermont. 

The University of Vermont is there. It’s got a lot of young and fun places to go. When I think of Vermont, I think about outdoors. That’s what’s appealing about it. In the airport you always see skis coming off of the luggage cart. You see people driving in with kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards. There’s a feel that everybody’s outside doing something in the state. If you’re not outside doing it, you’re probably missing out on something. South of Burlington, there’s an amazing property and it’s called the Shelburne Museum. It has recreated a period village of what life was like back in Vermont in the 1800s.

It’s a bucket list item. It’s Americana all put together for you in one place. Speaking outside, Todd, almost the entire thing is outside. You walk outside. It’s a great thing to do in the summer with the family. You walk from exhibit to exhibit and tell us a little bit about who put it together. 

It was done by one of the Vanderbilts. She would go to auctions and purchase buildings. The buildings are not recreated buildings. They’re the original buildings and then they were moved to this property. What you’re walking onto is a town and it has an apothecary. It’s got a schoolhouse. There’s a ferry boat and a blacksmith. It’s neat. You do get immersed in what it was like to be in Vermont.

I believe there are something 39 to 40 buildings on the property. You can walk it and see how people lived. It’s immaculate and beautiful. Put that on your bucket list. That’s called Shelburne Museum, which is right South of Burlington. 

What borders that is also the Shelburne Farms. It’s the old state for the Vanderbilt Family. It was the summer state. The wealthy New Yorkers, Connecticut would come up here. The original house is kept in immaculate condition. You’d want to see them both. The tour guides are amazing, but both beautiful right on Lake Champlain. The views are spectacular. That’s a must. 

Speaking of Lake Champlain, that’s something you have to see either from right at the bottom of the hill in Burlington, or even if you go up to South Hero or North Hero Lake, North of Burlington. It’s an incredible Lake that is skinny. It runs almost the entire length of Vermont and breaks the border with New York. Like any Northern lake, it is very deep. You can take rides on boats and see the history. You can go fishing. You can rent your own boats. Pontoons are exciting and fun to do. I would highly recommend that as well.

There are a couple of ferries that go across it at some different points, going from New York to the Vermont side. If you’re on the Vermont side, you’re looking at the Adirondack. If you’re on the New York side, you’re looking at the Green Mountains in Vermont. You could see Mount Mansfield, which where Stowe is. It’s huge and gorgeous. Take a boat trip. There’s a boat that goes out on Lake Champlain. It’s a big tour boat and the Spirit of Ethan Allen is what it’s called. That leaves from Burlington and it’s a large cruise ship. It’s a great way to see both sides from the water. It’s a lot of fun.

I’m glad you mentioned Mount Mansfield, which is the tallest peak in Vermont. At the base of it is Stowe, which is this incredible, quintessential, ski-resort town in Vermont. There are a lot of incredible things to do there. They have one of the best bike trails in the entire state that goes right through the center of the town. 

What’s great about it is if you’ve got smaller people, it’s a paved trail. It’s a nice, smooth ride for anybody of all ages. It’s not a difficult mountain biking trail. It goes through towns. It goes behind restaurants so you can pull your bike in. The total distance it’s a few miles. 

Six or seven miles.

Anybody can do it and it’s not a hard trail, but it’s beautiful. It goes by the Corn Maze in Stowe, which is cool. You’ll get lost in this Corn Maze. The corn is 8, 9, 10 feet tall.

I know one of your favorite bucket list things to do is where Maria is from and where she ended up after The Sound of Music. Why don’t you tell everybody about that? You talk about it all the time.

It’s a piece of history and who doesn’t know The Sound of Music? If you don’t know the music, you do know the story. It’s the Von Trapp family. When they left Europe, they settled in Central Vermont, in Stowe. There is the Von Trapp Lodge which is a working lodge. It’s open year-round. They have apple trees, but you can go and see Maria’s grave and some of the other family members are buried there as well. If you’re there and you have any connection to this movie, you’ll want to go and see that. You can just feel it. People come and they take pictures of the plot markers. 

The area looks like Austria in a way. It’s beautiful with the high mountains and the climate itself is just like it, which is a great trip as well. Salzburg, Austria, if you want to put that on your list too. I highly recommend you go to Von Trapp Lodge.

DE 4 | Vermont

Vermont: You’ll never see a billboard in Vermont, which really speaks to the kind of culture it has, magnifying the beauty of the state.

There are microbreweries and there are some great craft beers that are made at breweries in and around the Stowe. It’s around the whole state, but Stowe itself has some great ones. Idletyme was a place that we went and had lunch. Their beers, you can get a pint and try a little bit of everything they had. It wasn’t my favorite, but there’s something for everybody. They had sour beers, which I’d never had a sour beer before. It does leave a pucker on your face. I don’t know if you’ve got to have the right taste buds for it. Their IPAs were amazing. It was a great stop.

What I love about Vermont and this is a nice little tidbit people wonder why there’s a town like every 5 miles. I asked once, and the reason is a town every 5 miles is how far a horse could go before they needed water. There are all these unbelievable towns. Every 5 miles or so, you’ll notice it. Each one has its own city government, has its own things that they’re proud of, things that they produce, whether it’s cheese, wine, maple syrup. There are all different things in Vermont. Meandering through all these different towns in and of itself is a joy. It’s one of the reasons I love it. We’re looking for all the covered bridges all over the state. There’s a great program to keep them up-to-date and make sure they’re not falling apart. They do a beautiful job with it. It’s something to do if you’re an avid bike rider. A great way to see the state is to go look at the cover bridges. I would highly recommend that as well.

There’s a town called Burke. It is also a place for mountain biking. They have got I don’t know how many miles of trails in Burke.

This is the Northeastern part of the state. Burke is in Bike Burke Mountain. I don’t know how many trails it has. There are hundreds and hundreds. It goes across 90 separate property owners’ property at the base of Burke Mountain and it’s beautiful. If you’re an avid mountain biker, some of the best mountain biking in the state can be found there.

All the trails are groomed. They’re smooth rides. The levels of difficulty are different all around the space, but it’s a neat place. If you’d like to bike, you don’t want to be on a street bike on these trails, but if you have a hybrid or a mountain bike, you could get around comfortably. That was a lot of fun. We enjoyed doing that and did that. Another thing with one of my first exposures to Vermont. Vermont’s one of those places that you have a vision in your head. It seems a very romantic state. If you remember the show, Bob Newhart was in it. He moves from a city and he opens up an inn called The Stratford Inn.

The show makes the locals seem a little quirky. I would say the locals in Vermont, the speed is great, but it’s not going to be anything like you might expect to find it in New York. People enjoy dinners and you’re not seeing horns honking in cities. You might get behind a tractor on one of the off roads and be delayed, but it’s not anything that’s going to make anybody get some road rage, especially if you’re from the area. When you’re driving around and see some of these small places, you do get stuck behind, there’s a season where you might get stuck behind manure trucks. It’s not always the most pleasant-smelling thing, but when that happens, you look to your left and right and it’s the scenery, wherever you go is amazing. Did we talk about the swimming holes? 

You should talk about them because it is one of the great secrets of this area of the country.

All the times we’ve been coming to Vermont, it wasn’t until maybe the 3rd or 4th year even, where someone said, “Have you been to three holes?” I didn’t know what they were talking about. It’s a swimming hole. It’s not Florida, not everybody has in-ground pools. They said, “It’s great. It’s these little rivers, there are waterfalls, and then you swim, you can jump off the rocks.” We found it. It’s nothing you’re going to find. I doubt a concierge is going to tell you if you’re staying at a hotel. If you ask the locals in many of these towns, ask for a swimming hole, there is something nearby. It’s gorgeous. The water is crystal clear. It’s cold, but on a hot day, there’s nothing better and usually, there are nice little trails in pass. They’re everywhere. 

There’s a river that there’s a swimming hole somewhere. The locals know them. If you’re in Vermont, always ask. They’re great to see in the fall because they’re beautiful and remote. Usually, you’ve got to hike in a little bit, but they’re awesome. One other thing I’d like to point out and then we’ll move on to some of our favorite hotels to stay at in Vermont that is great for either vacation, meetings, and events. In Northern Vermont, there is a sculpture park called the Cold Hollow Sculpture Park, which is the work of David Stromeyer. He purchased this dairy farm 30 years ago and then made the barn his studio. Over the course of the last 30 years has created these giant moving metal sculptures that are sold and put in major destinations all over the world. Near his farm, which is free to go to, it’s incredible. He has about 40 of them spread all across these wide hills.

There are more than 60 and it’s a little town. It’s right next to Enosburg Falls in Northern Vermont. You drive by it and you can’t tell from the road. You’ll see a sign out front. It’s a sculpture that says a CHSP, which is Cold Hollow Sculpture Park. When you go in, the field opens up and he creates everything on the property, but you’ll see these things are huge. It’s on acres and acres of property and then they move. Someone may request one for an office building. These are the sculptures that you see at the base of skyscrapers in New York City or inside of a huge office building foyer and they’re different colors, they move, they’re abstract. All of these sculptures are an evolution of this particular artist work over several decades. It’s fascinating to see.

Let’s go ahead and talk about some of our favorite places to stay. Let’s start in Southern Vermont and a place that is well-known. It’s a luxury property called, The Equinox. That is down in Manchester, Vermont. Manchester is an adorable small town. If you want to get a real feel for it, but not be too far from Boston or New York City. It’s incredible. The Equinox has been there since the Revolutionary War, the main part of the hotel, but it’s expanded greatly. They’ve done a fantastic job keeping it up. The government of Vermont was formed in the small restaurant there back in 1777 or 1778 whatever year it was. There’s a lot of history there as well. What do you think about The Equinox?

The Equinox is beautiful because it’s a historic property. Different presidents have visited it. Down the road is the summer home of Robert Todd Lincoln, who was Abraham Lincoln’s only surviving child. It’s a beautiful estate. It overlooks the hills. He was a lawyer from Chicago and acquired it with one of his partners at this law firm. All these things are close enough back in the day where they could come from the cities and then getaway. That being in Southern Vermont was ideal and it’s beautiful. Manchester also has a lot of outlets. If you like to outlet shop and you find time to do that, you get this historical feel if you’re in the right spot, but then you go down the road and you’ll see all different types of outlets, great shopping.

If you go a little farther away, there is a great town ideally called Woodstock. There’s The Woodstock Inn & Resort there. It is right in the middle of town and a fantastic place to get the real Vermont experience in a concentrated way. They have cooking classes and tours that you can set up for and it’s comfortable. That’s a great one. If you want a smaller and more real Vermont experience, we highly recommend that property as well.

If you’ll find, you drive through some towns and some of them aren’t any more than 1 or 2 blocks. Sadly, there are many towns in Vermont that they’re past a lot of the economic prosperity that they had seen once before, but there are a lot of great finds. If you’re driving through them, like Andy said, they’re about every 5 miles apart. Park your car and go walk the street. You’re not going to be walking a lot, but you could see some cool things whether it’s a place to grab some food or a lot of antiques and people selling things from barns. You go in and you’re like, “Wow.”

There’s a lot of history there for sure. 

You could drive up from Woodstock, and then there’s Quechee. There’s a big gorge in Quechee that people swim in. They have a bridge that goes across it and it’s another spot that you get out of your car and go walk it. There’s a 1.5-mile trail. From there, you go down and check out the water, jump in one of those swimming spots off of the Quechee Gorge. It’s wonderful.

If you want a quick place to ski and stay as well, we talked about Stowe a little bit. The Stowe Mountain Resort is a fantastic place to ski from. It’s ski-in and ski-out and modern. If you don’t want to go all the way to the West Coast or to Colorado, Stowe is a fantastic place to fly straight into Burlington. It’s only a 20-mile drive. It reminds you of a Salt Lake in Park City where you can get there quick and you can ski on the same day. You get to enjoy Stowe there but the Mountain Resort is best in class. We highly recommend that as well. Finally, in Northern Vermont, we have Jay Peak Resort, which is a resort that’s been around a long time, but did $60 million upgrades with the new hotel, a new water park, championship golf course, which is spectacular in the fall. It is a great place to see rural Vermont but has the amenities of a first-class hotel. They have meeting space and conference center as well. We highly recommend the Jay Peak Resort up on the Quebec border. It’s beautiful. 

[bctt tweet=”Vermont’s just one of those places you kind of have a vision in your head that seems like a very romantic state.” via=”no”]

Did you even talk about the indoor water park at Jay? 

We talked about that forever.

It’s got a retractable roof. You go in and it could be winter or summer. In the summer, they usually retract the roof and it’s got one of the artificial waves like the FlowRider or Flow Dog as some of them are called, a bunch of slides, a lazy river, but then on the winter, it’s all glass. You see snow falling all around you, and then you get access to this water park, which is amazing. That’s right at the base of the mountain. Right next to that, there’s a brand-new indoor rink where leagues play, but they also have a free skate for people that are touring and want to putz around on ice skates, but it’s gorgeous. 

Those are our four venues and hotels we recommend if you’re coming to Vermont. There are many more. Bed and breakfast is all over here, locally-owned that can give you a quintessential Vermont experience as well. Make sure you look those up as well. We have a special giveaway and a way for you to sign up for it and get a special gift from Ben & Jerry’s.

That concludes this edition of this show. Thank you for joining us. Register and go visit our website at www.Destination-Everywhere.com. Ben & Jerry’s and Sean have given us a great swag pack, be sure to go in and register for that. It’s got some great collectibles and coupons for ice cream. You don’t want to miss out on that. Thank you for joining us. We’ll have you back here soon.

Important Links:

About Sean Greenwood

DE 4 | VermontStarting in 1988, Sean has seen the triumphs and tribulations during his three decades with the company. His title of Grand Poobah of P.R. has been earned one scoop at a time.

Along the way he has taken a serious interest in sharing the Ben & Jerry’s story and mission, namely, that businesses can thrive when they lead with their values and consider more than simply making a profit.

In his PR position, Sean has created programs, flavors, and managed relationships working with the likes of Sir Elton John, the band FUN, Ziggy Marley, Stephen Colbert, Nike, and more. Sean has provided communication strategy for the company’s global climate “Save Our Swirled” initiative. Sean quarterbacked the launch of The Tonight DOUGH starring Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show. Most recently he co-hosted – alongside comedienne Michelle Buteau – the launch event for Ben & Jerry’s new partnership and flavor with Netflix, called “Netflix & Chilll’d” and managed communications strategy for the company’s statement to dismantle white supremacy.

In his Poobah work Sean serves as Director of Public Relations and Communications at Ben & Jerry’s headquarters in Vermont consistently tallying over 4 billion annual impressions. The Gonzaga Master’s graduate often can be found loafing near the Research & Development Lab volunteering as a taste tester all the while enjoying the company benefit of three free pints of ice cream per day. His favorite flavor is Cherry Garcia.

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Ireland

Ireland

In this episode, you’ll find out the best time to make Ireland your next destination for business or pleasure. We talk to the experts to see what it’s like to stay in a real Irish Castle. We will give you the best places to plan your next event or visit to Ireland, and hear stories from the two-time Irish storyteller champion, Máirtín de Cógáin. As a true son of Ireland, Máirtín shares with us a unique view of the country, one where tradition meets music and storytelling. Join this fun and exciting conversation to know more about your next meeting or travel destination!

Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth are travel and hospitality entrepreneurs and owners of the global meetings organization, American Meetings, Inc. From sourcing venues in Ireland to corporate event management around the world, their team selects corporate event venues and meeting planners for a wide array of enterprise business clients, providing ideas for convention themes and strategies for running global meetings and events. Learn more at www.americanmeetings.com.

Watch the episode here:

Ireland

The Emerald Isle is a place of unfettered beauty, warm people in mystical legends. We explore this island from the Western shores of Galway to the Eastern edges of its largest city, Dublin. It’s no wonder why this jewel of a country is an inspiration for poetry and lore. It’s sweeping green valleys and the dive into crystal blue seas has brought traveler and adventurer alike for thousands of years. Its people are kind, welcoming, and always ready with the story of times gone by. Whether you’re coming for business or personal adventure, Ireland will never disappoint.

In this episode, we’ll discover a lover’s matchmaking festival, what to do in Dublin, and residing in a castle. We are joined by a two-time National Storytelling Champion, Máirtín de Cógáin, and the gracious host of Dromoland Castle Hotel, Mark Nolan, both of who will share their love and passion for this ancient land while providing bucket list ideas for even the most discerning traveler. Off we head to the Emerald Isle. With a bit of luck, we might find the adventure of a lifetime. Welcome to this episode, Ireland: Castles, Pubs, and Finding Love.

In this episode, we are doing Ireland. I can’t tell you how excited I am. I’m of Irish heritage. I’ve been there probably 8 or 9 times. It’s one of those places that is truly magical. Todd, we’re going to cover North, South, East and West. We’re going to talk a lot about the people, the culture, as well as some great bucket list items and we also have a fantastic bucket list of venue. We’ll be talking about Dublin and Galway and the Ring of Kerry and all the deep and rich history that Ireland affords. We could do 10 or 20 shows in Ireland. I’m excited because I’m going to hit on some of the bucket lists, but not only things to do.

We’re going to stay away from the traditional stuff. We’re going to pick bucket list items that can make your trip an incredible experience and then also talk about a venue that can be used for business or pleasure that will truly knock your socks off. We are going to focus on all of Ireland because there are many great places to see. We’re going to be focusing on the areas in Dublin, in Southern Ireland, and then also on the Western side of the country around the Galway-Shannon area. It’s going to be incredible. Todd, what venue are we looking at?

We’ve got a special guest that’s going to be on and the venue is Dromoland Castle. Dromoland Castle is about a ten-minute ride from Shannon Airport. It’s got easy accessibility. We’ve got Mark Nolan who’s the Managing Director of the Dromoland Castle, and he’s got some great insights for us. We’re looking forward to him.

Let’s kick this whole Ireland episode off.

We are excited to have our next guest here. We have Mark Nolan who has some experience to luxury properties in Ireland. Mark is the Managing Director of Dromoland Castle. Dromoland Castle has gotten a couple of special awards. Travel & Leisure’s Top 100 resort hotels in Ireland and the UK and TripAdvisor 2020 Traveler’s Choice Best of the Best putting you guys in the top 1% of hotels in the world. Congratulations on both of those accolades. That’s wonderful.

Thank you.

We want to get into it. We want to project a bucket list experience for audiences if they’ve been to Ireland or if they haven’t. There’s a history here and there’s a romanticism about going and staying in a castle. Why don’t you start off by giving us a little bit of the history of the Castle and how you ended up being there?

The history briefly at the Castle is it was the O’Brien stronghold. The direct descendants of the first High King of Ireland who was killed in the Battle of Clontarf in 1014. Lord Inchiquin still lives on the estate with his wife, Helen. They sold the property in ‘87 and it was bought by an American investor, Bernard McDonough, who was inveigled by some local Shannon guys to buy this castle. He treated this especially a haven for a North American market only. He opened in April and closed again in September, and did not want any Irish. It was remarkable. He did a great job in the castle. He made it an attractive proposition to come to and he built a few hotels around the Shannon area as a result of his involvement with the castle.

It was a clever marketing perspective and that was from the people who were called way back in the day, that would be $6 to stay in the castle and they had swoon at the price of it and as I’m talking to them, he’d say, “I have another inn down the road at about quarter of the price.” He was always on for captures. He was a great guy. He sold then to a group of North American investors headed up by a guy called Bill Dowling who got a lot of Salomon Brothers involved in the property. They did a complete refurb, reopened again in 1987 and the property has been in the same ownership since. We have a lot of proud North Americans. In actual fact, I’m the only Irish investor now as it stands.

Tell us exactly where it’s located. I know it’s on the west coast, but where exactly on the west coast?

It’s about ten-minute right from Shannon International Airport, which is one for the benefit to us, obviously, at the moment the world we live in and we don’t have too much activity there. Generally speaking, right through and hopefully from next season, we’ll have Delta, Aer Lingus, United Airlines, all flying in daily services, certainly from May to September, October. It’s a big attraction and we’re right on the coast. We’re about 40 minutes transfer time from the Lahinch Golf course. It’s a golfer’s haven. That’s not saying that that’s all we do. We have our own championship golf course and good golf academy and practice facilities, but it’s not. It’s all about the authentic Irish Council. We are the real thing.

If you have a bucket list item to go off at a castle, you guys are the place to go.

I think we’re the place to go. Our signature hole is the seventh. It’s a par three and the backdrop is the castle. We’ve been getting plenty of sunny days for some reason and it’s breathtaking. On the other side, there are a few backdrops on there too.

Now that we’re talking about activities because you guys also cater to families and children. I was looking at some of the activities that you have including the adult side, falconry and shooting, and archery and those kinds of things, which are amazing to me but what about the children also?

All those activities you listed are also for the children as well. We do a lot of family programs and activities based around falconry because it is an amazing experience. It’s hard to explain until you do it. It’s one of those things. We have at the moment 35 birds of prey. We have three full-time falconers. It’s a huge activity on the estate, which is popular. Once people come back, they say, “I get it now.” It’s one of those kinds of quirky activities, but popular.

Do you get to hold the falcon on your wrist?

Yes. You put them on your sleeves and you get the birds to fly and it’s amazing. It’s down to how many ounces they feed the bird the day as to how fast they’re going to fly. It’s extraordinary. They’ve weighing scales are down to grams of how much they feed them.

How long is that entire experience if someone wants to come and do it? Is it an afternoon?

It goes from one hour if you want to do a trek with the birds. Two hours and we go off the estate up to what we call Mooghaun Castle, which is one of the original castle ruins that’s on the grounds of the estate.

I’ve been to Mooghaun and it’s beautiful and a lot of history there. How old is that castle?

Mooghaun Castle will be somewhere around 1650.

Let’s talk about the venues for food and drink because I heard you have a partnership with an Irish whiskey.

Yes, with JJ Corry. We have a limited edition. We produced 100 bottles of whiskey and we were to bring it onto the market but with everything as it is, we are taking a little bit easier. We were going to release the whole stock, but we’re going to release 50 bottles. It’s a fabulous whiskey blended by JJ Corry. It’s a unique type of product. We’re also partnered with Dingle Whiskey as well, who also produced the gin. Dingle is a little further South in County Kerry. They’re renowned for their gin and whiskey, and we also have the barrel of whiskey down there, which we’re going to bring on. It’s a matter of the more mature, the better the quality, the less the volume. What we want to do is have a product that’s strong. We’re reducing that number of bottles. It’s my deputy GM, Simon Hodgson, who has an interest in whiskey. He has taken to that.

The room that’s behind me is the cocktail bar, which used to be a study. I fantasize that there’s a fireplace right back there and sitting in there with a fire going, and having a little glass of whiskey and maybe listening to someone sing a song. That’s a dream right there.

Just beside the fireplace behind your left ear is a case that we completely stocked with our whiskeys. They are all Irish whiskeys. I think there are 48 different blends of whiskeys and they’re all Irish produced and we do flights. In the evening time, if you want to do it, we’ll give you a tasting of three and it’s hugely popular. Irish whiskeys are making a way in the world.

It’s already been sold to me. I’ve bought into it. I can’t wait to try the one that you’re making right now when it gets released.

DE 3 | Ireland

Ireland: You just can’t lose when you visit Dromoland Castle. The place is absolutely amazing.

Someone can come to the Castle and check 5 or 6 things off a bucket list. Staying at a castle, playing on a championship golf course, doing falconry, doing Irish whiskey flights in an old study. This is an incredible place. You worked at Ashford Castle as well and I’ve been to Ashford as well and I’m sure some of our audiences have. Can you tell what are the differences? What are they going to experience? Ashford is also a beautiful property as well.

Ashford is a stunning property and I suppose, strictly speaking, we are aligned but geographically, we’re not. We’re two transfer time. Ashford is right on the shores of Lough Corrib, an Estonian 83-bedroom castle property. It’s owned by Red Carnation and they have invested incredible amounts of money to make it a fabulous property. It’s probably more formal than we are. We’re more spontaneous. We like people. We employ people that we feel have got that spontaneity. The comments that we would get from the guests that stay, they were coming to a castle and they were a little bit apprehensive because the prospect is daunting, staying in a castle, but we got there and we got it. It’s nice for us to hear it. It means that we blended that nice feeling of a formal castle on the one hand, but you’re treated like you’re home away from home and that’s all our ambition is.

If you have some discerning guests and they want an amazing VIP experience on your property, what are some things that you do to enhance that? Whether it’s the best suite or room that you have or special dinner events or things like that? What do you offer for someone who says, “This is my 50th wedding anniversary. I want it to be over the top special?” What’s something that you guys do offer for people like that?

One of the things we have is a garden suite, which is a fully-equipped kitchen. It’s got a good storage space. It’s got its own little garden and it’s interconnected to another room. If you’re a family, we will cater that room. If you would like to do a fully served dinner in that room with the chef cooking in your kitchen. You’ve also got a golf buggy at your disposal to two of the estate, because it’s 500 acres of woodland. Some of the trees that you won’t see anywhere in the world.

That was Lord Inchiquin who was the visionary at the time. He imported trees from all around the world on his travels. We have got some amazing tree collection, but that aside the cooking part of it will be the key elements of that and our executive chef, Dave McCann, will personalize the menus. The whole thing, as I say is about personalizing experiences and going the extra yard. Somebody that’s saying, “We’d like to be spontaneous.” Our business partner has changed quite a bit as you can imagine over the last year. We’re primarily Irish markets which is sad because we miss our North American customers so much.

The Irish are a little bit more cynical. Spontaneity is our key. People are staying at the moment because they can’t go on vacation. They can’t get out of Ireland. We have Irish people vacationing in Dromoland and staying up to two weeks. There are a couple of superfamilies. One night I’ll go to the table and say instantly, “Dinners with my compliments this evening.” They run up a tab in the cocktail bar with great nightly entertainment with traditional Irish music played by local musicians and they run a tab of a couple of hundred euros or dollars with our compliments.

It’s a surprise. Even when we’re fully-fledged and were primarily a North American property, that’s been honest, but people don’t mind spending $1,500 or $2,000 to stay in a suite and their lovers. What they’ll remember are two glasses of wine that were bought for them by Johnny in the bar or Frank and says, “I’m singing a song.” We’ve also got a singing barman if things are a little bit quiet in the evening. He’s a bit of a Frank Sinatra crooner. He doesn’t sing Irish ballads, but suddenly if it’s quiet in the bar, he might suddenly break into song and people are amazed by this.

It’s all about spontaneity. It’s all about the surprise element. Somebody goes down to the spa and say, “Did you enjoy that spa trip with husband? That’s with our compliments.” That’s a nice thing. It doesn’t matter with these people. Being absolutely honest, most of our people are plenty of money. They don’t need me to compliment, but it’s the surprise element. I would say, “You are great customers. We love you. Here’s your prize.” The other thing we introduced is a daily newsletter. It goes onto your door at about 5:00 in the morning. It tells you what the weather is going to be like the next day, which we’ve got a little bit more courageous about because the weather is getting better here. Instead of telling them, it’s going to be raining. We do Sudoku competition, Sudoku Instagram photograph of the day and there are little rewards. You get a cocktail dropped up to your room at 6:00. We’re always trying to keep people thinking. You’re in the business, you know what it’s all about travel. The smallest gestures mean the most.

You were talking about those things you do for your clients and for your guests that is more of the way you would treat family, than somebody who’s at your property temporarily like throwing out a nice gift, “Have a good night. These drinks are on me. Let me pay for your meal.” That develops a real sense of loyalty with families, friends and returning customers. Is that a year-round philosophy for you or is it during these hard times?

I suppose the long state. Our average day is 1.7 nights, at the moment it’s gone to 2.5 to 3 nights it’s doubled. We do have a lot of people replacing their normal vacation away from home with the staycation, with staying in Ireland. I’m conscious of being there and saying, “What can I do?” The kids are with them as well. We’re trying to put different gifts in the room every day or do something different or send them a book or do all the things as I say, to try and keep it small. I think the next year 2021 will be a year of recovery. I’m confident about 2021. It’s predicated on a few things, but let’s not go on that route. There are already enough people talking about that stuff. I do feel 2021 is going to be the year that is going to be the most amazing experience for North Americans to travel to Ireland. They will be welcomed back.

Are you guys doing anything special?

We’re working on this at the moment. We’re working on developing a program at the moment. My colleague on the virtual trade show. We will be offering special things to attract people. We don’t think it’s all about price. It’s more about added value and you’re adding and making it more experiential. We’ve been doing more complimentary things, nice things that are not a huge cost, but add value to the proposition of coming to stay with us.

For those people outside of the property, what can they experience, or what would you recommend they do around the area?

It depends on what they want to do. Scenically, you’ve got The Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, which are two of the infamous things to see in Ireland. We’re fortunate to have them both within a 40 minutes transfer time. We’ve also got King John’s Castle or Bunratty Castle & Folk Park, which is a wonderfully done development of the castle and they do nightly banquets. There are some fabulous heritage sites. We’re awash with history, the whole region, and spectacular scenery. I mentioned golf. I don’t want that goal to become the whole key, but it is certainly a great location for golfers. Apart from golfers, there’s so much to do.

The one feedback we would have historically would be people saying, “Do you know we only stayed one night because we are near and convenient to the airport?” They say, “Let’s stay the first night. Let’s stay the last night.” They say, “We’re sorry that we didn’t stay the two nights.” Apart from the falconry, clay target shooting, we’ve got our own lake fully stocked with trouts. Fishing is great with the gilly. There are lots of bits and pieces to do. We have a great spa and great leisure center so people want to chill and relax. They do get it within an hour or two, they’re in the groove. We’ll get them in the groove and they’re relaxed. They do say, “I’m sorry. I didn’t stay longer.”

I hope that a lot of our audience plan to come to your property. It sounds unbelievably fantastic and the number of things that you can do in a short drive. How far is Galway from your property?

It’s 45 minutes and then as you say, it’s a fabulous city. Park the car and walk everywhere. Limerick is 30 minutes from here.

As a local, as someone who lives in the area, what are your favorite things to do personally when you get a little time off which probably isn’t that much?

I love to come down to the house here. This is our retreat house in Lahinch. It’s wonderful. I love to walk the beach, play a little golf, and go to a nice restaurant. There are many fabulous restaurants in this whole area. That’s the one thing. You’re alluding to food in Ireland. The quality of food has become the most amazing improvements in quality. I think even this whole situation, everybody’s focused more on what they do in terms of quality and experience.

Even your popup down the village of Lahinch, you have a popup truck that opens on a Thursday to Sunday and does these gourmet burgers that are to die for. You’ve got our local bakery who closed, who would be doing little and they’re packed out because they produce this such wonderful quality sourdough bread and all those kinds of things. Everybody’s focused on quality. That is going to add to the experience for next year. When people come in, they’re going to have a great experience and great quality throughout.

Are you ready for our rapid-fire questions for you?

I’m a little bit worried about one of them, but let’s give it a go.

We do this to share with our audience things that they may not think about travel and get it from the expert. We want to hear your personal experiences. The first one is, have you ever completed any of your bucket list items? If so, what was it?

For my 25th wedding anniversary, there’s a well-known hotelier who writes a journal in the UK called Mary Gostelow, the Gostelow Report. It’s a well-read thing in the hospitality industry. I contacted Mary, she’s a superwoman and I said, “In your wildest dreams, ten days in India.” We stayed in every Taj Hotel. We left our luggage at the airport in Shannon, our local airport, and we didn’t touch our luggage until we were back in Shannon. We had the most amazing experience and it was wonderful. It was full of surprises.

Falaknuma Palace, if you ever get to India, do not miss it and it’s full of surprises. To give you a quick idea, that following morning you’ve got your own butler, a wonderful lady we had who was trained up by Taj, and the Irish Times and the Irish Independent were on our doorstep the following morning. Little things like that. I could bore you with the wonderful things they did. I’ve learned a bit from them. It’s in an industrial area of India. It was originally a castle to the moguls and it is a castle. There are rooms that they would bring you into to show you the scripts of hundreds and hundreds of years old. We could wear all of them in India. It’s the most extraordinary experience. If any of your audience gets to do, do it.

Number two, if you could live anywhere in the world for a year, where would it be?

[bctt tweet=”The more mature the whiskey, the better the quality and the less the volume.” via=”no”]

It’s Paris. No second-guessing there. I love the feel. I love the arrogance, loved the chicken walk everywhere. If you are treating yourself, the Bristol in Paris is the most amazing experience you’ll ever have.

If you could travel with someone infamous or famous, who would it be?

I’m going to say some corny ideas and say that as a hotelier, I don’t get to travel as much as I’d like. My greatest travel buddies are my family. I think travel is all about fun and having as they say in Ireland the crack. I was saying Freddy Flynn is an English guy, you may or may not know and has a great personality or David Beckham. They’re great fun.

When you’re packing for a trip, what is something you pack that may surprise our audience?

For my 60th birthday, we went to California last year and we stayed in the Beverly Hills Hotel. Edward Mady and his team could not have been kinder to us. It was an amazing event. One of the gifts I got while I was there were Bose sunglasses, but they’re also speakers. You can tune them in to your iPhone. I never traveled without them anymore. They’re wonderful to have. The other thing I never traveled without is a corkscrew.

What is your most memorable experience in Ireland?

This is when I stayed in Ashford Castle. They used to close the hotel for the winter. For me to learn a bit more about food, which as you can see, I’m keen on food, I did a thirteen-week full-time cookery course in Ballymaloe. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that, but it’s famous and well-renowned. The late Myrtle Allen was one of the great cooks of Ireland of all time. I learned how to cook properly there for thirteen weeks, with eleven other ladies. It was the finest experience one could ever want in every respect.

When you’re cooking a meal for your wife, what is your go-to meal?

I’m at a dinner party here in Lahinch and we got some lovely, fresh lobster bought locally. Nobody in the palace is buying lobster. It’s at an all-time low price or we’ve got a great local butcher. We’re doing fillet steak and lobster. I tend to cook a lot of chicken and fish, but this is part of a dinner party. Even though my daughters don’t agree, we like a lot of vegetarian dishes. We love lots of pasta, but there’s much in Ireland. The produce is brilliant that even if you’re the worst cook in the world, you couldn’t make a mess of it.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t say your mother is 100 years old, correct?

She’s 101. She’s got to be the best cook of all time. I’d say “Mom, how would you make that dish?” She goes, “This is my hand.” Even at 102, she has a voracious and wonderful appetite.

We wish her longevity and health. Thank you so much for joining us. This has been enlightening. We’re excited to get back on the airplanes and get over and see your property.

We miss you so much and we want to have you back. Please, Todd and Andy, you’re staying with my compliments the next time you’re staying at Dromoland. I will give you the time of your life.

Thank you very much. We appreciate it.

Thank you so much. It was an absolute pleasure. We can’t wait for everybody to see your fabulous property and all the great experiences that you have on the property.

We’re already waiting.

Mark Nolan, Managing Director of Dromoland Castle. Thank you.

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Thank you, Mark Nolan, who is the Managing Director of Dromoland Castle. Thank you for all of that wonderful information about Dromoland. It is a bucket list item to go there.

I want to do falconry for sure. That is going to be an incredible experience.

It’s all birds of prey too. It’s the falcons and they have owls. It was amazing.

He buys entire groups of people drinks in the bar. That’s another reason they go to the Castle. You can go almost any time a year or two there are things to do whenever.

I think the thing is with Ireland if you don’t mind some rainy days, some overcast days, which I don’t when I travel. I love intimate fireplaces and small streets. I don’t mind walking in a puddle every once in a while. What Mark was saying is the weather has been gorgeous over there right now. You never know what you’re going to get.

It’s a good point. It’s like the Western United States where it’s gorgeous from late May to early September. I’ve been in Ireland all the way into November and it’s gorgeous and it gets dark early. It’s Northern so you have to be prepared for that. It gets dark at 4:00 but the crowds and the deals are great. There’s not a whole lot of crowds and the deals you can get later in the year in Ireland are good when you go offseason. If you’re on a budget, look at it October, November, March, obviously you have St. Patrick’s Day, and what a great experience to experience St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland. It would be a great thing as well.

When you think of Ireland, there are a couple of things you think about. St. Patrick’s Day is one and I don’t know if that’s bigger than the United States now, but it is the first thing that comes to mind. There’s something else you’d think about when you think of Ireland and what do you think about, Andy? Maybe you can guess this.

Probably for you, going to a pub and having a pint.

DE 3 | Ireland

Ireland: Every North American visiting Dromoland Castle will never get an experience like you will get in 2021.

A pint in a pub. There are two things and you’re right.

There’s a pint on every corner.

There are backup pints for the backup pints that are in front of you.

You can’t swing a leprechaun without hitting a pub in Ireland.

When you talk about pints, Guinness is the beer in Ireland. It’s based in Dublin. I would say for those first-timers going to Ireland, the Guinness Storehouse is a must-see on your list where they’ll teach you how to do the perfect pour. For those of you that don’t drink Guinness, you don’t pull the tap and let it go into the cup. There’s an art to it and if you’ve ever ordered one, it could take some time to pour the perfect pint of Guinness. They either use a spoon or it goes on the side of the cup. I think a spoon is a correct way. You want to check out the Guinness Storehouse and the Gravity Bar on the top of it. That’s in Dublin. In Dublin, there’s also a ton of other pubs, and one of the most notable pubs in Dublin in The Temple Bar. Have you been to The Temple Bar, Andy?

I have many times. It’s incredible.

The Temple Bar is right behind me. You can see it. It was established in 1840 and it has not only pints, but it also has one of the largest whiskey collections in Dublin. It’s a well-known spot. It might be crowded, but rest assured, if it’s too crowded, you can find another pub that’s just as great, probably on many other corners.

They’re everywhere. That’s a great example of a quintessential bucket list item, but there are pubs everywhere. One of the things that I like to go and try to find the oldest pub in the area. One that claims to be the oldest pub in Ireland is The Brazen Head. That’s right down the street from The Temple Bar. There have been lots of famous people like Michael Collins and Garth Brooks have talked about being there as well. You definitely want to go to The Brazen Head in Dublin and that’s a great start, but also google historic pubs or oldest pub and then you can create your own walking pub crawl through Ireland or through Dublin. We did that one year and it was a lot of fun. I highly recommend it. You’ll meet lots of locals and get a real feel for the city of Dublin, which is a walkable city and a fun city to go to.

Ask the hotel concierge where you’re staying if they do have a preset pub crawl of historic spots. I would be surprised if many of them didn’t have that.

Another thing I found this, and I haven’t done this, but I saw that it was great. There’s an area called the Wild Atlantic Way, which is on the west coast of Ireland. Traditionally, the more rural area of Ireland, it’s on the opposite side where Dublin is. There is a seaweed bath you can do in a whiskey barrel. I thought that was an awesome idea. If you google it, it will come straight up. You bathe in harvested seaweed.

What did they say the benefits are?

Skin, aches, body aches, and supposedly helps you sleep. Don’t fall asleep in the whiskey barrel, but you might get a good night’s sleep. I haven’t done that one. While you’re on the west coast, one of the fastest-growing cities in Europe is Galway. Galway is a Norman age town from way back when, and it has a rich history. If you knew what the Claddagh ring is, which is the ring with the two hands and the heart, it was created right outside of Galway and there’s a lot of history around that. Galway is one of those walkable cities, quaint right on the ocean and beautiful. If you’re on the westside, make sure you go to Galway.

Another amazing spot that’s been probably some of the most famous pictures you’ll see and it’s been featured in several films is The Cliffs of Moher. Some of the movies that have been filmed there where you can google photos, but Harry Potter has a scene or two there. There was a movie titled Leap Year with Amy Adams that takes place all around Ireland, but there are some scenes there and then Princess Bride.

It’s amazing because you can walk up to the edge of the cliffs and it’s like a thousand feet down. There’s no fence or line or anything to keep you from tripping over and the winds are barely in about 40 miles an hour up there. My father went all the way up to the edge with his feet hanging over and I’m like, “What are you doing? Get back. You’re making me nervous.” It’s an incredible spot. If you have kids, be careful while you’re there, but it’s one of those awe-inspiring when you are looking out at the Northern Atlantic. It’s beautiful. Right over in that area is the Aran Islands. The Aran Islands are these archipelagos right off the Northwest Coast of Northern Ireland. It’s a fantastic easy day trip to go on the west coast. You can even spend the night there and all these quaint Airbnbs, but it’s almost like the land of time forgotten. When you go there and you feel like you have left the modern era and gone back in time because it’s slower, simpler, and not as developed as Ireland because Ireland is not developed. I highly recommend if you do a west coast trip of Ireland to go put the Aran Islands on that bucket list.

Another great spot that shouldn’t be missed that’s more of a holy site, but there’s a lot of legend around it and that is Croagh Patrick. Croagh Patrick is a mountain. It’s approximately 2,500 feet. It’s also the site of a holy pilgrimage once a year. It’s always the last Sunday of July. They say thousands of people on this pilgrimage go up and for good luck, many of them will carry rocks and they put them on this cairn. The cairns are mountains of stones that are manmade and there’s one at what they call the saddle of the mountain and that’s the midway point and then all the way at the top. The legend has it that St. Patrick was up there and he prayed for 40 days. It’s like the Santiago De Camino where people do this holy pilgrimage once a year and it’s supposed to be great for the soul.

The mountain itself is only a two-hour hike from the base. It’s easy and it’s not that big of a track and anybody can do it. I highly recommend it. The real tradition is to do it barefooted, but it’s not recommended to do barefoot. If you see that, we recommend that you wear shoes there.

You might hear it referred to as the reek. Reek Sunday is that Sunday that they do the pilgrimage.

If you want to go to an event, this is one that we saw and we thought was incredible, especially for someone looking for love and that is a 160-year-old matchmaking festival in Lisdoonvarna. It’s a tiny Irishtown and they call it the Love Capital of the World. It is a multi-week festival that attracts people from all over the world. There are music and dancing every night in all the bars from 11:00 AM to the wee hours of the night, you can look for love in all these great pubs and bars. They have organized activities. If you meet Ireland’s only traditional matchmaker, his name’s a Willie Daly in his office at the Matchmaker Bar, legend has it that you will be married within six months. If you’re looking for love, consider going to the matchmaker festival.

I wonder what the success rate is of a long-term marriage from the Matchmaking Festival.

It’s early September, every year and there are music and dancing. There’s a music festival that goes along with it. One thing you guys need to put on your bucket list is going to Trinity College and see the Book of Kells. It’s a book of the four gospels of the New Testament. It’s done in an ornate way back in 800 AD and it’s in pristine condition. It’s one of those libraries that looks like it’s out of the movie and you’ve got this beautiful book sitting there, and there’s a lot of history to read up on. If you’re in the Dublin area, definitely go and see the Book of Kells. The campus, Trinity College, itself is gorgeous. That’s a great afternoon thing to do in Dublin.

Why don’t you tell us about the Ring of Kerry the drive?

The Ring of Kerry is in Southern Ireland and it’s most arguably one of the most beautiful drives in Ireland and incredible. You start on the Eastern side and go around, but it goes through all of the old, smaller towns in Southern Ireland and it’s gorgeous. I did it with my mom. I’ll never forget. We got stopped. Someone was herding a bunch of goats and the goats like have the right of way there. We got stopped. We couldn’t move the car and got out. There was a little pub right on the corner. We walked into the pub and one of the goats followed us into the pub. Those are the types of experiences you’re going to have if you go to Ireland.

You’re talking about driving. Tell us about what was the vehicle like and what was driving like in the countryside because it’s a small country, but it could take you quite some time to get from one place to the other?

There’s some freeway, but most of it is especially like the ring is it’s all small, long, and winding scenic road. Some are well done. Some are back road, no pavement. You run into everything when you’re going through Ireland. It’s one of the things that makes it a great trip. Traditionally, the cars I’ve driven are usually small so you want to pack light, but you can get a little minivan over there too if you need to for a larger group. The Ring of Kerry is a great way from a scenic drive standpoint to see the best of Ireland. You’re going to hear about it as a popular thing to do. It’s a long trip though. You can do it in a short amount of time, but you shouldn’t stop. The better thing is to spend a few days and do the whole thing and then stop and see all the great towns. You’ll get a feel for the country.

Someone made the recommendation to fly in to either Dublin or Shannon and then if you flew into one, fly out of the other so that you can get across the country and see a lot of it. When you were driving, but what are some of the cuisines? Does each area in Ireland do you think have a specialty dish? Is that anything that you noticed?

Not really. It’s all traditional Irish fair which is brown meats, potatoes, and vegetables. I think that’s the local fair. If you go to the nicer restaurants like to the Castle that we talked to Mark about high-end food, and continental. I haven’t seen a whole lot of different styles in different regions. Ireland is a small country. It’s not huge. I don’t think you’re going to see a lot of large variance in food, but I think it’s some of the more cosmopolitan cities like Galway, Dublin, and Shannon where you will get that more continental and fine foods.

[bctt tweet=”The Irish are a little bit more cynical, so you need to give them spontaneity.” via=”no”]

Ireland to me got this romantic quality about it and sitting out in the country in a small pub that has a fire and you’ve got a pint and there may be some sheep outside. That to me is such you can’t help, but to want to be sitting in that chair to enjoy that moment. It seems like there are lots of moments like that around Ireland, but it’s a bucket list country. There are many bucket lists experiences within that country that you can’t miss. It has got such a rich history. We talk about American history that doesn’t date back far, but you’re looking at some of these places where the St. Patrick was in 400 and 410 or something. History doesn’t end. It seems like you can excavate there and still find things. They talked about finding a chapel on Croagh Patrick that was being excavated and it’s like Roman empires.

Speaking of things to hear and do, we’re going to be listening next to a two-time National Storytelling Champion who’s going to give us a little bit of Irish flavor to close out the show.

We hope you’re enjoying this and when we come back, we have a special guest and a true son of Ireland. His name is Máirtín de Cógáin. He is a two-time Storytelling Champion and his stories are amazing and they’re elaborate. He’s also a musician and an actor.

I’m here with a special guest and that guest is Máirtín de Cógáin.

It’s great to see you, Todd. How are you doing?

I’m wonderful. Thank you.

Tell us a little bit about yourself because you do have a couple of interesting facts about you. You’re a two-time Storytelling Champion.

I grew up in what’s called a rambling house. My father is a great bearer of the tradition and any time a musician would pass by, there will be a party in our house and we’d have a huge dance. It would be a great crack altogether. All the furniture will be thrown outside. It would be tea and sandwiches for the whole place and everyone would entertain everybody. When I was young, I remember all the way back to 6 or 7 that I would have to do my part of the entertaining in the evening. In the house, you had to have a party piece and storytelling seemed to fall upon my shoulders. My father was a great storyteller. His people are all great storytellers and I have taken the mental line and been sharing the stories forever.

Does the storytelling and the music go together?

It does. Coming of age, in such a hoax, you would have all sites of the tradition being given to you. My mother brought me to every type of music lesson she could and I was lucky that after many years of many different instruments, I finally got us with the Irish bodhrán with the drum that we have, our take of tambourine. The singing came to me as well in my teenage years. I was lucky that I could take them and travel the world and making a living of it. I only work two days of my life and I don’t intend to work anymore. God knows the fellow says, “If you enjoy what you do, you’ll never work a day.”

How did you get involved in the traveling then? What town are you from in Ireland?

I’m from Cork the South of Ireland. We have our own Southern drawl. I travel all around America. I live in San Diego and I bring bus tours to Ireland. I’ve organized bus tours for many years where we go to little out of the way places and we travel with a songbook of the topography. We sing songs of all the places that we go to and then we find out the stories that have to do with us at the different places we visited. I was in Cork and I said to my dad, “I’d love to get something about Cork, maybe some literature or something like that for the people that are commonly on this next bus tour.”

He says, “I’ll bring it in to the great Seamus Heaney into the Cork Business Bureau.” The great Seamus Heaney like any good Irish fellow he said, “You’re up in San Diego? We might be in San Diego in June with the Tourism Ireland. I will give you a show.” It’s a small world that the Irish and Seamus got me to sing songs for Tourism Ireland. With that, they’ve had me teach the bodhrán at IMEX and to do a lot of different things for them as a sys and things like that, all these travel expos and around the world. Going back to Ireland is the biggest treat for me and to say that I could bring people with me to show them where these stories like is a blessing.

My father-in-law is a first-generation Irish kid. They settled here. His parents were from Donegal and we bought a summer home with them and like you said, there’s a big pride with the Irish. I’d come to the house because we would use it at different times and whenever I came back, there would be a random nail on the wall with an Irish blessing or an Irish phrase. They were popping up all over the place to the point where I’m big on symmetries.

It drove me nuts, but they were special. He passed, but we still have all these Irish blessings everywhere. He would have family come from Ireland and you’d get a little notice, “We might be around your area.” Then you get a knock at the door and you’re entertaining an Irish clan and you are finding an Irish pub to take them to, and you always have a backup of a pint and a pint and another backup.

It was different for me because they were such a fun eclectic group of people but I couldn’t understand them at first. I was like, “Are they speaking English?” The more pints I had, it became clear. It was like me watching The Full Monty movie or something. The clarity sinks in once the pints start hitting you but the accent was thick. It almost didn’t even sound like English to me. Does that happen a lot around Ireland?

It happens a lot. Even for people in different parts of the country, if they didn’t want you to understand, they might mumble a bit thicker. If you’ve traveled five miles, you’ve got a different accent and people can tell where you’re from that you might roll your Rs. It’s a beautiful part of the island that we have such a variance in accents and people don’t give them away. They might travel for work and they might be 40 or 50 years in another part of the island or another part of the world and every morning they’d be shining it up, making sure that it would be as thick as it was yesterday.

When you’re in Ireland, do you have a favorite spot? What is your ideal getaway when you’re back home when you’re not with your family? Do you have a bucket list thing that you talk about in Ireland that is a must-do for people?

I love going down to West Cork. Cork is the biggest County in Ireland. We’re the Texas of Ireland. We struck on, we were the people’s Republic for six months. We’re A Place Apart is what they call West Cork. When you go to Cork and you go down West, it’s underdeveloped. There are some beautiful pristine places that no one goes to too often, that you can sneak down and take this ancient world of heather and grass and sea air that you don’t get anywhere else. If you’re going to Ireland, get into Dublin airport and get straight out to Dublin and go down to Cork.

You’re not the first person that said that. They’re like, “Go. Get out in Dublin.” Do you have a favorite pub that you go to when you’re back at home?

There are lots of them but if you’re down in West Cork, there’s a place in Clonakilty called DeBarras. It’s an old pub and they’ve great music down there. It’s a fabulous music venue. They’ve got great food, but it’s the welcome that you get in DeBarras. It is fantastic. You go in and it’s rustic. There’s something fantastically chic about it. When you go in there and it’s like stepping in into some Harry Potter feeling. You’re into Diagon Alley when you’re into DeBarras. It’s fabulous. There’s a lot of stone and that feeling of character that you can’t get from a new building. When you go into the DeBarras in Clonakilty and you meet the people, they might be young or old, and they all have the same welcome for you. It’s beautiful down there.

It’s like the Irish bars in America. There was a trend and I don’t know if it’s still happening where the actual interior of the bar was built in Ireland and then they would ship it and then construct it in a new building or somewhere. You had that wood and the stone and they’re trying to duplicate it, but there’s nothing like the real thing. It sounds like this is the spot I need to hit when I get there.

It’s like the whole building wraps its arms around you as you walk in.

Let’s talk a little bit about the storytelling. Stories are a big part of Irish tradition. You were talking about your family. You were talking about the story of Halloween. Why don’t you tell us the Irish take on Halloween and the thin days?

Ireland has an ancient tradition and our stories go way back. They would contend with any Greek or Roman set of legends and that would continue for weeks upon end if you were to start it off. The history of Halloween is centered upon a cave in Roscommon, which is at the center of the country and in this cave it’s called Oweynagat or Cave of the Cats or some call it the Gates of Hell. The light side of the year turns into the dark side of the year. To explain it to the people that are reading, when the bright side of the year, that spring and summer change over to autumn and winter. We have Bealtaine which is the 1st of May. You have Samhna, which is the 1st of November and you have to bring the whole thing into people. Our season starts on those quarter days. We have Samhna on the 1st of November to start winter and then spring starts on February 1. That’s in black.

We then have Bealtaine which is the start of summer, the 1st of May and Lúnasa, the 1st of August which is the start of autumn. You have summer and autumn in the bright side of the year and you have winter and spring on the dark side of the year. In that change more so going from bright to dark, a very thin veil between this world and the next. Those that may have been sent before their time can come back and enact vengeance upon those that sent them. That’s why in Ireland for centuries, we have been wearing a mask to cover our face for those that come back from the next world to find this house and won’t recognize us on the noise of Halloween. In long ago in Ireland, when the sunset that is when the days started. That’s why all of the big celebrations are the night before the day that we celebrate. The big day is Samhna the first November, but we celebrate it with a fire on the night of Halloween, on the night of the 31st of October.

DE 3 | Ireland

Ireland: The city of Dublin is a very walkable and fun city.

If you go to a place not too far from that. It’s almost directly west from this place in Rathcroghan. If you’re going, there’s a great center there in Roscommon. If you go directly west Sligo and you go where Queen Maeve, who sat her highest seat was in Rathcroghan where she is buried out in Sligo in Carrowmore in this big megalithic tomb, there is a Portal Dolmen. That’s where you have the two big stones and the one on the top which is weighing a couple of tons. How did they lift this? Nobody knows. On the morning of Halloween, if you go there and there’s a fine bright morning from the hills east of there, the sun rises and the sun goes in between the two standing stones and sets of fire ablaze with the glow of the morning sun on Halloween all around the Portal Dolmen to signify those that want to come back that the gates are open.

Let’s assume I’m a tourist and I happened to not know that this is a thing in Ireland. What could I expect to see on Halloween night outside of Dublin? Is it something that would shock me? Is it something that everybody’s doing it?

The ties between America and Ireland are strong. Sometimes the traveling folktale would come over and come back in a new guise and everyone’s going out now with American designed Chinese made costumes around the place looking for sweets. There’s a great festival in Trim Castle. We have a Dracula Festival. Everyone thinks Val the Impaler from the eastern part of Europe. It’s an old Irish legend from County Derry. Bram Stoker grew up in Dublin and he was a great friend of Oscar Wilde and he used to sit with Oscar Wilde’s mother who was a great antiquarian and historian and a fabulous storyteller. She would tell stories along with his own mother, Bram Stoker’s mother who grew up in Sligo as well.

She grew up during the time of the famine. The famine, they used to call it the droch-fhuil, the bad blood. Droch-fhuil or Dracula. There’s a legend that was printed in a book by a man, Patrick Weston Joyce, who was a cousin of James Joyce. He wrote this legend twelve years before the Dracula was published about Abhartach up in Derry where Bram Stoker’s father was from. In this place in Derry, there is the legend that in the fifth century, a tyrant and a dwarf and a magician what’s out killing the people and drinking their blood.

The local chieftain went and killed him. He slew him and placed him into the ground. The following night, he was out again looking for a bowl of blood. The chieftain got the neighboring chieftain and killed him again and buried him standing up, but yet he came back the third time. The chieftain seeks the elder druid to see what he might say and the druid said that, “If you would make a spear out of a yew tree and place it to the heart of the dwarf, Abhartach, bury him upside down and place a massive slab over his tomb, you’d never see him again.”

With that they buried him upside down and placed a slab over him and got the whitethorn tree and threw its brambles around the slab and still now, in a good field for growing crops, you have a massive slab in the middle of this farmer’s field with a whitethorn tree coming out of it. Professor Bob from Queen’s University Belfast went in 2000 to seek it out and if he did, he slipped on it and his back was sore for months after. They went to chop down that tree and men went down with a brand-new chainsaw and it didn’t work. He tried it over and over again and the chainsaw wouldn’t work and they went back with a second chainsaw and it still wouldn’t work. It’s still there now for anyone to visit, but I tell you, I wouldn’t recommend it.

That is a story and you mentioned another one. Let’s talk about the ancient stones. Tell us a little bit about those.

I have been fascinated by stories all my life of Ireland, but the stones of Ireland, the stories that you have connected with these stones, that you can go out and touch, and most of them are in public areas. They’re not in museums and you don’t have to pay for them to go into. One, you do have to pay and it must be said, that it’s probably the most famous stone in the world is the Blarney Stone. The legend behind the Blarney Stone is I think he was Richard McCarthy in the 15th or 16th century. I think it was late 1500 maybe the 16th century, he was in trouble with Queen Elizabeth.

He had to go over and plead his case. It was money issues or something like that and he prayed on one of the ancient gods of Ireland, Cliodhna. He prayed and prayed that she might give him the right things to say. With that, a stone was presented before him that if he kissed the stone and went over, he’d be able to plead his case and get away with it and he did. He was given his land back and she didn’t take any cause for umbrage at him. From that, the idea of a Lord of Blarney came.

He placed the stone above on the top floor of Blarney Castle and they say, “If you kiss that stone, you will have the gift of the god or you’ll be able to talk with anyone.” Another famous stone is the Giant’s Causeway up in the North of Ireland that used to be a causeway between Ireland and Scotland. There was a famous leader of the Fianna the head of the guards of the High King of Ireland and they were called the Fianna. Finn McCool was the head of the Fianna and he became famous that people talked about him much that he grew and grew until he was a giant.

The giants in Scotland, there was a big race of giants to where they are at that time. They were starting to get inquisitive about who this fellow in Ireland was talking about being the best giant in the world. A fellow with Benandonner started to roar and give out about how he was going to crush Finn McCool. Finn McCool went over to look at him and he found him asleep laying down and he thought, “God almighty, he’s massive.” He put his beard into pigtails and went away home and told his wife, Oonagh that he was in big trouble. Oonagh, like any Irish woman, she struggled and she said, “Will you sit down? We’ll have a cup of tea and talk about it?” They sat down and when they were partying over the tea. She says, “Will you suck your thumb?” You may not know it, Todd, but Finn McCool could see the future if he sucked his thumb. He could see the giant coming over and throwing his house in the air and crushing Finn McCool.

Finn McCool started to get dull at the moment. Oonagh said, “I have an idea. Shave your face, put on this diaper, and build a cradle big enough for yourself.” He says, “What?” He says, “Do it. Do what I tell you.” He shaved his face. He built a quick cradle and he hopped into it and she put a pacifier into his mouth. She says, “Don’t wake up now until I tell you.” Long after that, Benandonner was banging on the door and there was Oonagh baking cakes in the open fire and she was cute out. She baked two brown bread cakes. One with the granite stone and one without. Benandonner said, “Finn McCool, come out and face me like a man.” She opened the door and said, “Benandonner, we’ve been expecting you. Finn McCool went out hunting deer. He said you’ll have a feast before you had a fight. Come in and have a cup of tea. Will you have some cake?” “I will so.”

She gave him the brown cake with the granite stone in it. He bit into it and his teeth went flying in every direction in the house. He looked into the cradle while he was holding his broken teeth and he said, “What’s that? A doll? That’s a very big child.” “That’s our six-month-old child. He’s the heart and soul of Finn McCool. He loves him ever. Don’t wake him up or he’ll scream the house down. He’s about to get up shortly for his meal, but he wakes up and is on his cart.” The baby woke up and she fed him the cake and Benandonner watched him eat the cake. He said, “Is that granite cake too?” She says, “That baby loves to eat rocks. I wrap it in a cake for him to swallow it down.”

The Benandonner was shocked. The next thing the wind blew and blew open the door and she said, “Benandonner, are you a gentleman? Would you ever pick up the house and turn it to the other side for we have the southerly winds coming and it is blowing the door open? Finn McCool would be delighted if you would only turn the house along the other side.” Benandonner went out and picked up the house. “Does Finn McCool pick up this house?” “He does. Probably every three months he picks up the house. When he picked up the house and spin it around to the other side, he got an awful praise.

He says, “If the Finn McCool baby is that size and eats rock cakes for breakfast and lifts up a house like this, I haven’t had the hope.” He ran away and with that, he got to the Causeway, he picked up every stone he could ripping up the road that no more would anyone ever be able to travel between Ireland and Scotland by land. Ever since that the Giant’s Causeway has been broken up between the two islands. If you want to go Todd, that’s open and free of charge to go to anytime you want. The steps are there and you can see Scotland on a fine day. It’s only 21 miles away.

To go on to another stone Todd, there’s a thing called the Lia Fáil and that goes back to Finn McCool as well. We had High Kings in Ireland all the years until I suppose the fall of the Clannish Age, when the Norman started to come in on the twelfth century and then it was all over for a while in 1601, put the kibosh on it. We have a stone called the Lia Fáil. They’d say the Stone of Scone is based on this idea, but the Lia Fáil stands in an open field in the Hill of Tara in County Meath, about an hour north of Dublin. Maybe a half an hour from the airport.

In this open field where you could see eleven counties from the top of this hill, you have stones sticking out from the ground that legend says that anyone that would stick its bare feet on it that is the true High King of Ireland. The stone itself will cry out. It’s there and we had all of the big ceremonies, still history tells us of all the High Kings dating way back beyond the first century. Only 20 yards close to that is a thing called the Mound of Hostages. There were scientists back in 1898 who reckoned that the Ark of the Covenant was brought to Ireland because I think a princess of the Israelites married one of the kings of Ireland, and she brought with her the Ark of the Covenant and they profess. Some people still do this. There are a lot of theories going on, on the internet. You could fall down a wormhole of YouTube figuring out what people are thinking. At this place in 1898, they went and they dug up a big patch of that land, looking for the Ark of the Covenant. People said it’s still there and the Ark of the Covenant is the hostages in the Mound of Hostages.

You can sit there and your brain starts going in different directions when you’re hearing the stories because you don’t know what’s going to happen next, but you’re a great storyteller. There’s no doubt about that. Let’s go back to St. Patrick’s Day and this will be the last thing I’ll ask you. Tell me the story of St. Patrick’s Day as an Irishman. I know what we’ve become in the States of when it comes to St. Patrick’s Day, but it’s different when you’re in Ireland. It’s not everybody dressed some green throw shamrocks all over the place and go out and drink beer for an entire day and have a couple of parades. What does St. Patrick’s Day mean in Ireland?

In my lifetime, St. Patrick’s Day has changed a lot in Ireland. When I grew up, we were a poor country at that time when I was born. That was in the last century. During this time, St. Patrick’s Day would fall in the time of Lent. That’s the time before Easter when most of the country would have given up chocolates for the sake of our savior. We wouldn’t eat sweets for the whole seven weeks of lent especially as a child.

On that day, you could break your fast. There was a huge celebration of chocolate and you’ve got to mass in the morning. You’d wear a shamrock on your lapel or on your shirt and there would be a parade inside in the city and park city. I was often in the parade myself, and it was a nice parade in comparison to what you might have down 5th Avenue in New York. The idea of celebrating with a parade started in New York and went up to Canada and then has traveled all around the world.

Everyone is Irish in St. Patrick. You go down to Peru, all over to India, Australia, New Zealand, everyone is out in St. Patrick’s Day. It’s a beautiful celebration to let your hair down in the middle of that time of the year. It falls on the equinox of spring. Nowadays, it’s a national holiday. People take the day off and it’s a big celebration in Ireland. It may not be as big as Chicago or New York or San Diego, but the parades are big in Ireland and they are small. In my town of Carrigaline, it’s a population of about 16,000 people. They have their own parade and it’s beautiful. There are small towns that celebrate the smallest parades in the world. That’s a big celebration for them. People do have the crack. If you’re going to go to Ireland around St. Patrick’s Day, the place is full of crack and that’s not stuff you can buy on the street. This is the stuff that only happens among the Irish. Crack is how we have fun without buying stuff on the street. The idea of having the crack when you go to Ireland, that’s what they’ll tell you that, “What’s the crack? How’s the crack? Where’s the crack?” That’s what we say for having fun in Ireland.

Máirtín, that’s all the time we have but I could talk to you forever because you’re a dynamic speaker and a great storyteller. If anybody wants to get ahold of you or wants any information about you, where can they track you down?

My website is open every day of the year, Christmas Day, Halloween, Easter, and that’s at www.MairtinMusic.com. They can find it all the information more or less there.

Thank you so much for your time. Thank you for sharing with our audiences a little bit more about the history and some of the storytelling in Ireland. Thank you so much, Máirtín. I appreciate it.

[bctt tweet=”The smaller gestures mean the most. ” via=”no”]

We’re excited to share with you all the great things that we’ve learned about Ireland and experienced there. There’re many things to do. You could go back. Like I said, I’ve been there 9 or 10 times. It’s been an incredible experience each time. What were some of the things that you want to put on your bucket list?

Without a doubt, Dromoland Castle. That place is amazing. The activities they have on-site and pubs. I want to get a car and go drive around the countryside and stop and random spots and check them out. I don’t think you can lose.

My family is from the western part of Ireland. I spend a lot of time there. I think flying into Shannon and heading north into Galway in the Donegal area. There are beautiful beaches there. There’s so much to do. There are castles right there. There are lots of different castles that you can stay in. Some are stunning and we have not spent any time talking about golf as this entire show. I wouldn’t even have time to talk about how much golf you can do in Ireland. If you’re a golf aficionado, or if that’s your sport, it’s a place to put on your bucket list. You will get the most amazing views.

We did mention that there is a championship eighteen-hole golf course at Dromoland Castle.

Thanks, everybody. We will see you next time. We are excited to bring you all these great destinations. Thanks for joining us.

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About Máirtín de Cógáin

DE 3 | IrelandMáirtín de Cógáin is a singing, dancing, story-telling bodhrán player who also is a noted playwright and actor. He performs in his native Ireland and all over the U.S…. and between and beyond, too! An infectious personality, Máirtín pleasantly commands the attention of any collection of people, from a concert hall to an intimate porch.

Descended from a long line of storytellers and with two CCÉ All-Ireland’s for Storytelling under his belt, Máirtín gets no more joy out of life than the telling of stories.  If you are lucky enough to catch him spinning a few yarns, you are in for a treat. When touring the globe with The Máirtín de Cógáin Project & The Fuchsia Band, Máirtín is also a true promoter of the Ballad. He is searching ever for those forgotten songs of old to give them new life, and also writes some of his own.  Máirtín learnt from many famous Irish singers such as Danni Maichi Ua Súilleabháin, Séamus Mac Mathúna, and Ciarán Dwyer. A fluent speaker of Irish (Gaelic), his love of the ‘Teanga na Gael‘ stems from his parents, who brought him up in a bilingual house and sent him to primary & secondary schools taught in the medium of Irish.  Máirtín then earned a Degree in the Irish language from University College Cork. If not on stage singing, storytelling, dancing, or playing the bodhrán, Máirtín is threading the boards as an actor, most notably in the film The Wind that Shakes the Barley.  He has co-written many productions with the Be Your Own Banana Theatre Company, recently playing De Bogman off-broadway in NY. Máirtín has been playing the bodhrán for a long many moons, learning first from Eric Cunningham (The New De Danann) and later from Colm Murphy (The Old De Danann). Máirtín has taught Bodhrán technique at the Catskills Irish Arts Week, August Irish Week as well as giving workshops at major US festivals including the Kansas City Irish Fest, CelticFest Mississippi, Minnesota Irish Fair, and La Crosse IrishFest.  He also gives private tutorials along the road while touring, be sure to inquire if you need a lesson.

About Mark Nolan

Mark Nolan, Managing Director of Dromoland Castle Hotel, personifies the dedication to contemporary excellence, artfully blended with bespoke tradition that together distinguish the hotel within the luxury hospitality sector. Mr. Nolan began his career in 1981 with a diploma in Hotel Management from Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology. After a year at the Dunfey Hotels in New York, he accepted a duty management position at Ashford Castle, advancing quickly to Deputy General Manager. Eight years after earning his degree, he arrived at Dromoland Castle to assume the title of General Manager. Mr. Nolan has served as Managing Director of Dromoland Castle since 1996, adding the post of Managing Director of The Dromoland Collection in 2009 where he undertook a four-year management contract with Castlemartyr Hotel & Resort in Co Cork. He works closely with the balance of the five-member Board to maintain Dromoland Castle’s sterling reputation as one of Europe’s finest resorts and, most recently, to welcome the Clare Inn Hotel now rebranded ‘The Inn at Dromoland’ to The Dromoland Collection. Mr. Nolan’s boundless energy extends also to Hallmark Management, a company he created to undertake small design and fit-out projects at other five-star hotels; he sits on the boards of the regional advisory board of Irish Business and Employers Confederation; the Atlantic Connectivity Alliance, and Shannon Chamber of Commerce. He also sat on the Board of Directors of the Shannon Airport Authority in 2010/2011. An aficionado of art, boating and golf, Mr. Nolan is privileged to live on the Dromoland Estate, a mere sand iron’s distance from the 14th fairway, with his wife Maria and their children Jessica, Andrea, Gillian, Marcus and dog “Callie”.

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