By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

2017 was a hard year – friends died, good buddies moved away, and I didn’t lose the five pounds I so optimistically recorded on my New Year’s resolutions.  So when I saw a sign in a gift store that said, “Life is Short.  Take the trip.  Buy the shoes.  Eat the cake.”, I took it to heart.  In fairness, I’ve never had an issue with the cake part of the affirmation.  In fact, eating cake is right in my wheelhouse.  But I’m not a good shopper and my travels are limited to occasional trips with my nieces and our summer road trips.  As a life-long knitter I’ve always dreamed of going to the British Isles or Ireland but year after year I put it off.  Until I read that sign.  Exactly a year ago this week I asked a few friends if they would like to go on a knitting trip to one of my dream destinations.  They all responded a resounding “YES!” So next week we’re embarking on a nine day trip to Ireland, which we have dubbed the “Irish Princess Tour”.

Why ‘Princess?’  Because we decided that if we’re going to go, we’re going to go in style.  We are flying from Phoenix to London on a British Air 747 in the Upper Deck.  Riding “upstairs” has been on my bucket list for a long time.  I recall many years ago flying from San Francisco to New York on a 747 but I was “stuck” in business class down below.  This time, I was going to make it to the upper deck or bust!  We also decided that we would rather stay in one location rather than constantly pack and re-pack our bags.  After all, the weather this time of year is still a bit chilly and rainy so numerous layers, requiring lots of clothing options, are required.  We concluded that Killarney is centrally located, has good restaurants, and more importantly, plenty of pubs.  So we selected the Killarney Park Hotel, which I discovered after the fact, is the same hotel brother Bob and his wife Linda stayed in when they visited Killarney.  Apparently the KPH is a Sparrow tradition!

My husband helping me get into the spirit – or spirits.

Once we had our plane and hotel reservations we began to work on what would occupy our time.  Here is where another good life lesson was learned.  There is a very famous knitwear designer, Carol Feller, who lives in Cork, about an hour away from Killarney.  She does many large group classes for the Irish Tourism Board tours and we were a bit disappointed that we could not join in the tour’s classes.  Mustering up my courage, and on the premise that the worst she could say was “no”, I emailed her and asked if we could visit her studio and have a private class for the five of us.  She emailed me back within hours to say not only would she do the class, she will come up to our hotel to do it.  Armed with my newfound confidence in asking strangers for favors, I emailed a yarn store in Dublin that we’re visiting and not only did she respond that she will greet us with tea and biscuits, but that she’s arranged for Kieran Foley to give us a private trunk show.  Okay, by now most of you have glossed over Carol Feller and Kieran Foley so let me put it in terms you might relate to: it is the knitting equivalent of a golfer getting a lesson from Rory McElroy or Padraig Harrington.

One of the wonderful aspects of this trip is that there is another Type “A” on it!  While I arranged the knitting end of things, my friend Patsy worked on many other aspects, most importantly our touring agenda.  We knew that big bus tours are not for us – we’ve all had the experience of people in a group that are so annoying that you spend half your time ducking them.  Patsy did some research on Trip Advisor and found Jack at Killarney Taxi and Tours.   Jack, it turns out, is a treasure.  It’s little wonder he gets rave reviews.  Not only does he have wonderful recommendations, he acknowledged that we might want to spend a “wee bit of time in the pubs” AND he’s taking us to the Skelligs Chocolate Factory.  I love this guy already.

To top it off, well be spending our last night in Ireland at Dromoland Castle.  Yes – a real castle for fake princesses!  At the time we made the reservation the exchange rate between the Euro and the dollar was much better.  If it keeps climbing at the current pace we may be Princess Dishwashers.  Finally, I got my Ancestry DNA results in last week and I’m 20% Irish.  More about that after my brother gets his results and we find out if we’re really related.  In the mean time, for the next couple of weeks, I’m going to  be 100% Irish, visiting its wild coasts, singing “Ireland’s Call” at a few pubs and paying homage to my ancestors.  I’ll keep you posted.  They do have bail bondsmen in Ireland, don’t they?

22 comments on “BACK TO THE OLD SOD

  1. You are gonna LOVE Killarney ! John and I were with your Bro and Linda on a very Magical Trip to Ireland!
    And such sweet people! Can’t wait to hear when you return!!!

    • Thanks, Judy! I’m sure looking forward to it and I’ll check to see if the bartender at KPH remembers you guys😁

  2. Suzanne: If I don’t see you before you leave for Ireland, have a most wonderful time! Not hard to do with the Irish and their traditions. Also, you look especially good in the color “green”. It’s always been my favorite color—mainly when it comes in “money”!! ha ha Safe travels! Gayle

  3. Bravo to You and your princess girl friends Suzanne.
    Have a wonderful Bday trip.
    We will take care of the hubby and your baby boy❤️

  4. Oh Suz you are going to LOVE LOVE LOVE Ireland! We stayed at the KPH with Bob & Linda and once before that. Simply lovely! Not sure if they still offer this service – but four of us gals got to tour the city in one of their old cars – which came with a driver of course. Your Jack may do the same but this was free from the hotel and we were out for about 3 hours. The driver gave us history of the city while stopping at different sites. Have a wonderful time – save travels and enjoy that upstairs – nice and quite.

  5. Sounds like a fun trip! Hey, 23 & me says I’m 63% Irish & British so please say “hi” to my people! haha
    Hope to see lots of pictures. 🙂
    Have a fabulous time.

    • Hey – I’m 61% British and Irish so we’re pretty darn close!! My Whitman cousins (mom’s brother’s children) are full blooded siblings and are really far apart with their DNA. It’s such an interesting topic. I’ll be sure to post photos! Love, Cuz

  6. Oh Suz! What a wonderful itinerary you’ve planned! We’ve said many times if given the chance we’d go back to the Emerald Isle for a six month stay. In lieu of that, we’ll live vicariously through your adventure. Safe travels and Slainte!

    • Thanks, Marge! Six months sounds wonderful. I have the same fantasy about England, but maybe I will also long for Ireland once I’ve seen it. Thanks!

    • Thanks, Ann Marie! I’m sure it will be a great time – I just have to figure out what to pack at this point!!!

  7. Oh, Suzanne – I am just so happy for you!
    It sounded like fun when you tell me about it at lunch, but you’ve kicked it up a stamp – or more!
    Wishing you safe and exciting travels and can’t wait to hear about it when you’re home! Love you!💛

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