Meet Agnes Warren, a quilter, knitter, crocheter, and artist, with a yarn, paint, and fabric stash that has almost taken over her home in Ireland. She is also a travel escort with Craftours, the company that arranges McCall’s Quilting travel adventures for quilters. Agnes escorts tours around mainland Europe, Ireland, and England, and will be hosting our Quilting, Castles, and Gardens of Ireland tour July 3-13, 2016.
For almost two years I have had the pleasure and privilege of traveling around Europe as a tour escort with Craftours. I have seen the most beautiful sights, from Budapest to Florence, Vienna to Munich, Rome to Prague, London to Salzburg. I have often woken up and had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. I have had the opportunity to explore new and exciting places, to see the joy experienced by my groups as they explore new territory or revisit beloved memories. Every day is a gift.
As I return home after each trip, flying into Dublin, looking down on the beautiful green fields, I am filled with excitement. Ireland never fails to do that to me. This gives me some idea of what my tour groups might be feeling as they touch down in Ireland, many for the first time.
I try to remember this feeling weeks later, as I stand at Arrivals, waiting for my group to disembark. I am filled with anticipation, eager to meet my new family, for that is what we will be for the next week. I can’t wait to share my lovely country with them. I will do everything I can to make them feel at home. Because this is what makes Ireland so special, people feel at home here.
There is something about the place, something that can’t be put into words, something magical here. It might happen as you stare out at the wild Atlantic from The Cliffs of Moher. Or when you are sitting in a pub listening to a fiddler playing, eyes closed, lost in the music. Or climbing the stone steps of a Medieval castle, you feel a chill and get goosebumps imagining the stories these walls could tell. Or maybe a feeling of connection to ancient Ireland comes over you as you walk the same steps the early Christian monks walked at St Kevin’s Monastic settlement.
As you wander around Victorian gardens in full bloom at Kylemore, marveling at the beautiful, serene Abbey, you feel a sense of sadness at it’s history.
As you sit in a 200 year old cottage, enjoying freshly made tea and scones, you might close your eyes and feel the thread of history that continues under the thatched roof. Or watching the sheep farmer bring in his flock with the help of his dog, instinct playing more of a part than any training ever could. Maybe this is what will touch your soul. Or perhaps it will be while you are watching craftspeople carry on age old traditions, weaving, or cutting glass, or carving marble. As crafters we can appreciate the skill and care that goes into producing such beauty. And Ireland is a treasure trove of hand crafts, there is so much that will inspire you here.
One thing I know, Ireland will find its way into your heart, and it will stay there. Because above all, Ireland is about people. You will meet some of the friendliest people in the world here. As you sit in a pub, restaurant, or hotel lobby, you will find yourself in conversation with people of all ages and backgrounds. So, if you decide to come across the sea to Ireland, I wish you Cead Mile Failte (One Hundred Thousand Welcomes). Just beware, you may not want to leave!
Thank you so much, Agnes! It’s easy to see why the groups you have hosted have so many wonderful things to say about their experiences.
If you’d like to know more about our Ireland tour plus optional Scotland add-on, get all the details here. We hope to see you on the trip!