By Bud Slavin, 2-time traveler & Vacation Ambassador, Columbus, North Carolina
When my father passed away ten years ago, I began traveling with my mother, Margaret. I lived overseas for five years, so I’ve done a lot of traveling myself. I wanted my mom to experience the joys of travel as well, and our trips together allow her to get out and about and see new and different things.
One of the main reasons we chose to travel to Ireland is because our family is from there. Along with our connection to the country, the departure dates for Grand Circle’s Ireland trip also fell within the timeline I had off from work. Since I work for the government, I only have a small window for my vacation—so the timing was perfect.
Bud and his mom, Margaret, loved the beauty of Ireland and its people—including their Program Director, Barbara Long, pictured here with Margaret.
One of the great things about traveling with my mom is seeing things through her eyes—even if it’s someplace I haven’t been before. It’s much like going to the zoo with a child. You’ve seen lions and bears before, but you get to see them for the first time all over again with someone who is incredibly excited about the new things they’re experiencing.
We discovered so many new things during our vacation to Ireland. For one, I was amazed that the country is an ever-changing landscape as you travel from one place to another. We began on the west side of the country, where we were surrounded by rocky terrain, and as we continued on our journey, we traveled through green fields, and eventually found ourselves in bustling cities. It was so beautiful.
Just like Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting, Margaret was quite impressed with Ladies’ View, a scenic stop along the Ring of Kerry in Killarney National Park, Ireland.
My mom loved every minute of the trip, too. We celebrated her 82nd birthday while we were in Ireland. And although she didn’t vocalize this information to our fellow travelers, her “big mouth” son most certainly did—and the group serenaded her with a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” on the bus. One of the women in our group even found a small flower shop during one of our stops and presented her with a beautiful bouquet of assorted flowers. She handed them to mom saying, “Everyone deserves flowers on their birthday.” Although my mother didn’t say it, that simple act meant so much to her.
But one of our favorite moments was a visit to a 300-year-old pub on our way to Dublin with our group. As we sat together and ate, surrounded by the locals, we all sang Irish ballads along with a man playing a guitar. There was something so special about sitting alongside our group members and having such a wonderful time. It was as if we were all Irish at that moment.
A visit to a chapel at Kylemore Abbey was a special experience for Margaret, as she felt her late mother and husband there with her.
My travels with my mom allow us to spend quality time together that we might not otherwise have. Each new destination allows us to experience new things together—and it means so much that I’m able to share these special moments with her. I’ll never forget visiting Kylemore Abbey and walking into a chapel with mom. She later told me that she felt my dad’s and her mother’s presence with her while she was there. It’s moments like these that truly make our travels together worthwhile … and the reason we continue to explore the world together.
Encounter Ireland’s friendly people—and rich history—on our Ireland in Depth vacation.