‘Excellent resources’ in Ireland

A trip to Ireland my husband, Maurice, and I took, Aug. 21-Sept. 2, 2006, was greatly enhanced by two excellent resources.

• We highly recommend utilizing the services of Peter Galvin of Wonderful Ireland, Ltd. (63 Dundrum Gate, Dundrum, Ireland; phone +353 87 7613344 or visit www.wonderfulireland.com). He set up a well-organized hiking program for us on part of the Wicklow Way.

After receiving our deposit in March, he sent us guidebooks and maps, and when we arrived we were provided with full route descriptions as well as a cell phone programmed with all the necessary numbers, should we encounter an emergency. Fortunately, we did not need to use it.

Upon our arrival in Enniskerry, we spent the afternoon sightseeing Powerscourt Waterfall and Powers­court Gardens. Our walk back to Enniskerry got us in shape for the upcoming 3-day hike, which totaled 24 miles and took us from Ennis­kerry to Glendalough and around the upper lake.

Peter arranged for unique and very comfortable B&Bs for our arrival each afternoon and had our luggage transported each morning, which left us free to enjoy the scenery along the way. Day one we stayed at Ferndale House (www.ferndalehouse.com) in Enniskerry; day two, Wicklow Way Lodge (www.wicklowwaylodge.com) in Oldbridge, and day three, Derrymore B&B (e-mail patkelleher@eircom.net) in Glendalough.

A delicious bag lunch was included each day, and each village had a choice of excellent restaurants for the evening meal (the price of that being our responsibility): Emili­ana’s in Enniskerry, Roundwood Inn in Roundwood (our Oldbridge host, Seamus Kinlan, drove us there) and Wicklow Heather in Laragh.

Since we were on holiday, we didn’t skimp when it came to our evening meals — we generally included a Guinness, main course and dessert — and the price per person ranged from €20 to €30 ($25-$38) in the different restaurants. Food in Ireland is expensive. We usually bought a sandwich (€2-€3) at one of the many deli shops for a noonday snack and ate it in a nearby park.

The tour cost of this segment of our trip was €345 (near $442) per person, based on two people sharing.

• While in Belfast, we hired “Martin” (www.allirelandtours.com) for a fast-paced, fact-packed, 75-minute tour of the city. It was well worth the €16 ($20) per person!

After an early pickup from our B&B, Old Rectory Guesthouse (138 Malone St.), which cost €66 a night for a double, Martin drove us to a variety of the impressive and graphic murals depicting various scenes from the time of “The Troubles,” all of the time explaining, in an unbiased manner, the history of Northern Ireland and Belfast. The drive included Falls and Shankill roads as well as the high fence which is most effective at dividing the Protestant and Catholic communities.

The depth of his historical research has resulted in many anecdotes, which Martin is in the process of compiling into a book on the political topic. If he could write as rapidly as he talked it would be published by now!

We hope these two contacts will be of use to someone else visiting Ireland. They certainly were highlights for us.

Apache Junction, AZ