RS Tour of Ireland in 14 Days
This is a lengthy report so I apologize in advance.
We first visited Ireland in July 1994 and this was our first trip back after 28 years. The first time we were in Ireland it rained or was cloudy every day except for the day we were on the Dingle Peninsula. We were absolutely freezing, wet and mud spattered. We came to Ireland this time fully expecting rain and clouds and were pleasantly surprised by the fabulous weather throughout the tour. The weather was warm and sunny with a few brief exceptions and we worked up a sweat every day especially on the day we went to the Giant’s Causeway and hiked the Shepherd’s Steps. Our guide Lolly kept remarking on how unprecedented this gorgeous weather was. At the end of the tour, she laughed and said her next group would get lashing rain and wind as we had used up her budget for great weather and we had also used up her food budget so the next group would also be getting bread and water. We revisited some of the sites on the tour that we had already seen in 1994 but there were plenty of sites that we hadn’t visited so it was worth a second visit. This was a tour filled with views of rolling green hills divided by stone walls; the Wild Atlantic Way; endless thick hedgerows of fuscia and orange crocosmia/montbretia growing wild everywhere; a history of failed rebellions and lost battles; the potato famine; St. Patrick; myths and legends; leprechauns and fairy trees; Irish literature and music; Lolly’s jokes and personal reminiscences of her life in Northern Ireland and her beloved grandparents. We cried, laughed and ate our way around Ireland. We really lucked out with our tour guide Lolly. We have been on many tours over the years with RS and other tour companies and have been fortunate to have many wonderful guides. But they broke the mold when they made our guide Lolly. She is beautiful, so fun to be around, so energetic and so hard working. She wants you to love Ireland as much as she does. And we did. She added a lot of unexpected extras to our tour. We all loved her. She says no group will ever be as perfect as ours was but any tour that has Lolly as a guide will be perfect.
COVID - The specter of covid hung over all of us and we wanted to avoid being kicked off the tour. We were all diligent wearing our masks on the bus and indoors and Lolly noted that we were all good about it even when we didn’t know she was looking. We had plenty of individual space on the bus. Still we lost 4 tour members to covid early on. Two tour members got covid and left with their unaffected spouses. We obviously didn’t wear our masks at group meals or when outside. I tested myself a couple of times during the tour as my throat was dry and scratchy but was negative each time. I was a bit paranoid as we had just finished a tour in Scotland where one of the tour members had contracted covid and we could possibly be infected. I let Lolly know this and we distanced ourselves as best we could from others during the beginning of the tour. Lolly kept the seat behind herself and the driver empty to protect them from all of us. It would not have been good if either of them got covid. What a hassle that would be!