So many crashing waves, so many links to play and so much hospitality; how do you decide where to golf and be lucky in Ireland? Book a tour with North and West Coast Links to fulfill your Irish desires. There is no luck needed since the details will be covered. Here’s how a sample trip thrills:
Arrive in the Dublin airport and hear, “You’re very welcome” before you even say thank you. It is the Irish way beginning with members of the Spirit of Ireland, your VIP transportation service. Roads in Ireland are a bit narrow, curves are sharp and they journey on the opposite side of the road so why not leave driving to the experts and enjoy the views?
Rolling hillsides are patterned with green and stonewall hedges, dotted by countless
sheep and boulders where the Psalms could have been written. Miles pass such as this and then a lake or a fjord or the Roundtree Marina with colorful ships pops into the scenery, waves crash and then more sheep, so many sheep that combined with activity, when night falls, you will never lack sleep.
“You’re very welcome” at Harvey’s Point Hotel over looking the Lough (lake) Eske at the foot of the Blue Stack Mountains in the County of Donegal. Swiss brothers and a Donegal bride marry lavish suite accommodations with Irish cheer. The spacious living quarters are befitting royalty. The waterside bar is a cozy place to experience your first pint of Guinness before the fine cuisine in the exquisite restaurant next to the gallery featuring their Mom’s fine art. Harvey’s Point is the perfect spot for Gaelic immersion. Native swans float on the water punctuating the graceful silence of the Point. The staff is engaging and efficient, none more so than Sean, the jovial concierge. He is the former general manager of Narin & Portnoo, the perfect place for:
Round One – Narin & Portnoo Golf Club eases players into the true links style of golf with a couple mundane green fairways to start. Hills get steeper, grass gets taller and the scenery takes a coastal shape with a par 3 over a gorge and the sea beyond. We push our trolleys with a skip in our step – wahoo! We’re golfing in Ireland! Difficulty increases in parallel with beauty as waves crash against the sandy beach of the panorama far below. In Ireland a round is wrapped up with soup, sandwich and a fresh pint of Guinness capped by a caramel foamy head – cheers or solange!
Round Two – Donnegal Golf Club in Murvagh is a peninsula course beyond an evergreen forest. The first nine finish again on the magnificent Atlantic Ocean. Our best dinner (and they were all very good) was at their clubhouse. Slow roasted lamb and sautéed Pollack made an Irish surf and turf.
“You’re very welcome” at the Radisson SAS Sligo Rosses Point. The breakfast buffet is served with a water view.
Round Three – County Sligo at Rosses Point serves up 27 holes in a seaside village with a marina, lighthouse and the original Coney Island off the Atlantic coast. The great Peter Alliss said, “Rosses Point stands at the very top of the list of Irish courses.” Perhaps that is because the greens are so slick and true, he never has to hear, “You’ve got to hit it Alliss.” And neither did we. Ocean and mountain views frame the artful angles and ditches to maneuver. Unusually warm and sunny weather was our lucky charm.
“You’re very welcome” at Mount Falcon in the baronial lodge or lakeside suites for a target
sports trifecta. Robert is renowned for fly tying and teaches the graceful technique of whipping the line like a conductor’s baton to reel fish in from the 3-acre lake. Exclusive wild Atlantic salmon are caught on the 2 miles of double banks on the adjoining River Moy or sea angling can also be arranged. Stewart teaches clay shooting – a steady motion, lock eye with flying target, squeeze the trigger; follow through, much like golf. A nine bay driving
range provides on site practice for the 12 golf courses within an hour drive, all in between the falconry display and fine dining options.
Round Four – Enniscrone Golf Club incorporates all the aspects of Irish golf with pastures of blatting sheep prancing to mama ewes, donkeys braying, skylarks singing, ocean waves roaring, breezes blowing, slight rain and sun, played with a good Irish couple, Gordon and Jenny. Number 12 is one of those rare holes where the view is best from the ladies tee box, in this case a 360 take of ocean and dune splendor. Under the highest point of mounded dunes lie the remains of a Viking raiding party that came ashore and met their demise when the Irish warlord dispatched his fighters. It’s imaginable.
Round Five– Carne Golf Links’ new nine was best described by Kaia from Finland as a bit unfinished but it has plenty of promise with a wee bit more signage and detailing. The second nine of the championship course brought us back the Wild Atlantic Way, the hilliest of rounds with ocean sights. It was a roller coast romp among subtle blooms of violets and primrose. Wheeee!
“You’re very welcome” at The Station House in Clifden which served rail riders back in the day and still welcomes travelers with a mini village. Cities of the world herald Irish Pubs but smiles and songs distinguish the real deals in Ireland. A group of ladies filed in to the bar, ordered their brews and filled the place with melodies and memories.
Round Six – Connemara Championship Golf Links was a special day with John McLoughlin, CEO of the highly recommended North & West Coast Links and his wife Teresa. From the opening ocean hole scene when fog mystically rolled in, to the back nine with clear dramatic views of rugged terrain, and on the sunny clubhouse balcony it is a classic panorama at every turn with Connemara ponies, stone cottages, a pirate witch’s castle and plenty of ocean.
“You’re very welcome” at the GlenLo Abbey in Gallway. High on service, bags are ported through narrow halls as burning peat in the hearth permeates the air. The actual Pullman carriages from the Orient Express with lace curtains, linen dressed tables and fine cuisine stages an unforgettable dinner followed by a musical farewell in the pub. If time, there’s one more nine on premise, parkland style before the Spirit of Ireland transports back to Dublin.
If laying over in Dublin, the hop on/hop off double-decker bus tours the city. Stop at the Guinness Factory Store to learn all about the history and future, how to pour and enjoy the nectar on the top floor bar with a 360 window out to the city. Stroll through Trinity College and the floral Green, then The Temple Bar for lunch. Generous ambassadors Frank and wife Ethelle surprised us with a drive to the ancient Glendalough monastery. The Maldron Hotel and Radisson Blu are right next to the airport with shuttle service, wifi and breakfast buffet to send you on your way. We must double back to Dublin for a Mulligan trip. We’ll explore more of the Wild Atlantic Way and perhaps detour to kiss the Blarney Stone. Any road you take, Ireland is an intoxicating adventure and “You’re Very Welcome.” www.northandwestcoastlinks.com