My embroidery adventures take me all over the world and this October I was delighted when Annie’s, Just CrossStitch magazine invited me to explore the beauty of Ireland as the guest tutor with Craftours. Together with a group of nine keen embroiders and crafters we discovered incredible castles, soaring cliffs and scenery, warming Irish food and historic local art and craftwork. Read on to find out more about our marvellous trip…
Day 1 – Sunday, September 30
We arrived bright and early at 8.30 in the morning and were met by the lovely Agnes at the airport and our driver (and ‘captain’) James. It was on the bus and on to Galway! Along route both James and Agnes filled us in on both the program for the week as well as commenting on the places we passed.
After a quick snack stop James took us a scenic drive of the city, eventually parking up near the cathedral. Lunch followed and a meander around the town before making our way to the hotel for an evening welcome dinner.
Day 2 – Monday, October 1
With an early start straight after breakfast we set off on our first outing to the stunning Cliffs of Moher with photo stops along the way to view the beautiful countryside. The day was overcast and windy but fortunately the breath-taking cliffs were easily seen.
On our way back we stopped at the little village of Kinvara for lunch – the local chowder proved to be a very popular lunch for many of us. Then we were straight back to the hotel for the first workshop. The ladies got off to a good start on the Sheep Triptych and without exception proved themselves to very adept stitchers!
Day 3 – Tuesday, October 2
Tuesday proved to be a very exciting and event-filled day. Our first visit of the day was to Celtic Crystal, which was very interesting and informative. We had a talk given to us by the owner and then watched Sean at work carving a design onto a crystal bowl.
After some essential shopping we moved on to Connemara Marble, where once again we were given a tour and an interesting chat about the marble, how it is mined and its uses around the world. Across the road they also own a charming period museum, which we popped across to see – very interesting!
Then it was onwards to the absolutely stunning Kylemore Abbey, with lunch first, followed by visits to the Gothic Church, the Abbey itself and the Victorian Gardens. There was plenty to see here, including beautiful examples of gold work on ecclesiastical garments, tapestries, as well a beautiful cutwork tablecloth and crochet work. A textile artist’s dream!
En route home James stopped at one of the peat bogs, explaining how the peat was harvested much to everyone’s fascination. That evening a few of us went into Galway for supper, to taste Irish fare and listen to live Irish music!
Day 4 – Wednesday, October 3
All packed up and ready to go, we set off on our way to Killarney to the Lake Hotel situated just outside the town, in the most idyllic setting. We stopped in Adare for a delicious fish-fare lunch, had a quick look around the village and of course did a bit of shopping!
On arrival in Killarney, James had organised for us all to go on a jaunting trip around Killarney National Park, which proved to be everyone’s favourite event. We were delivered in style to the front door of our hotel. That evening we had a sumptuous evening meal, with gorgeous views out over the lake and the imposing countryside.
Day 5 – Thursday, October
Thursday saw us up early and ready to start stitching by 8.30 in the most perfect classroom facilities with plenty of space and light. The ladies managed to master all of the techniques needed to complete their sheep and in addition some went on to learn an additional few new stitches, leaving this teacher very satisfied with results!
No sooner was that done than we were all in the coach again and off for a scenic drive around the Dingle Peninsula. The weather was overcast with rain, but somehow always seemed to halt when we stopped for views.
Lunch break in Dingle included a cheeky taste the famous Murphy’s ice cream, as well as a bit of shopping. Another scenic route home via Slea Head where we stopped for a quick unplanned tour of a Celtic ruin – here we walked around an iron-age beehive hut, dating back to 500BC.
Later ‘Our Captain’ once again proved his worth by organising a lovely evening for us all, to see an unplanned evening of Celtic dance and music at the Killarney racecourse. A superb show and evening, much enjoyed by all.
Day 6 – Friday, October 5
Friday saw us pack up and leave for Dublin, stopping off to see the beautiful Blarney Castle, where we explored the grounds and the shopping at the Blarney Woollen Mills. We were surprised to see a crochet art installation in the windows of the castle, left there from a yarn bombing! Shopped out and well fed we moved onto Dublin arriving there in time for dinner, after a scenic tour of the city from the bus.
Day 7 – Saturday, October 6
On Saturday the morning was ours! Some of the group went off on a cookery course. Rose and I shared a cab to St Patrick’s cathedral for a spot of sightseeing. At 1 pm we all met up again and set of for the Avoca woollen mills, where we were given a short demonstration and tour. It was great to experience a loom still working after more than 100 years in use and of course all the bright colours were a delight to see.
All good things come to an end and our last evening was spent together at our farewell banquet!
Day 8 – Sunday, October 7
James took us all to the airport very early and I had to rush off to another terminal which cut short our sad goodbyes!
All in all it was a great trip with a lovely group of ladies and marvellous hosts in the form of both Agnes and James. Agnes of course finished her embroidery much to my delight!