Experience a secret Ireland

Guest Blog

  “I lost myself and found myself all in one day, during one of the most intriguing days of my life.”

Joanne Sweeney-Burke, Author, Blogger & Digital Entrepreneur


A Secret Escape. Shhhh!


There are very few days in your life that make you stop, take a big deep breath in so as to experience the here and now.

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to take a trip on Ireland’s Lough Derg, which offers an off-land route to counties Clare, Limerick and Tipperary.  The area has a deep history but more than that, some very exciting secrets.  To an extent I’m glad I arrived with no preconceptions because what I was to experience was something I’ve never experienced before.

There is no itinerary for the trip and this is part of the intrigue.  So I took my seat to begin what was to become a day filled with secrets. This is one of the most special parts of the offering. There is a time to set sail and a time to dock back at the Harbour.  And that my friend, is all you need to know.

Making a nautical effort and going smart casual with my attire and choosing flat shoes was a great decision.  The weather was typically early Summer with a hint of summer sun and a freshness about the air.  Lough Derg was rumbling gently under light winds and the motor of the yacht, but we had the swish of the lake and the early morning air keeping us feeling refreshed.

Azul, our motor yacht and mode of transport, was our home for the day taking us on an extensive 8-hour secret tour comprising waterways, inlands, homes and eateries enveloping Lough Derg.

I felt like a tourist in this triangular axis, as I hadn’t visited these counties in any great depth heretofore.  I suddenly began to consider what other parts of secret Ireland I was missing.


Allure in Azul

“So it’s not a boat then?”  The question is asked and I’m sure we are all kind of interested in why Azul is much more than just a boat.  Six others – international tour operators and guides seeking out Ireland’s most remarkable offerings, join us on the trip.  I enjoyed the mix of personalities but I also enjoyed learning from the ‘tourism experts’ who clearly were as impressed as Tom and I.

We arrived to a red carpet (this is normal, seven years of marriage doesn’t warrant a red carpet) and I began to feel a little bit warm inside.  Coincidently the last time I stepped onto a red carpet with Tom was on our wedding day.

On arrival at 11.00am we are treated to fresh prawn and smoked salmon bites, rustic boiled potatoes with goats cheese and sun-dried tomato and homemade Irish brown bread.  To wash it down a terrific Spanish Rioja (my own choice) while others chose a dry white wine, an espresso or tea of their choosing.

I intended to make the most of my ‘trip’ so obliged the early morning tipple.  Once off into the open Lough Derg I got a tour of the Azul.  To me he oozes the sharpness of a Spanish businessman, the charisma of a Mediterranean Signor and the luxury found in a royal marina.  I was in heaven.

The allure in Azul was palpable, the quality of the furniture, the lush of the fabrics, the temptation of the cabins.  How many hours are we on this motor yacht I thought to myself?!

It was official. I was in love with Mr Azul.  He was hitting the right spots and I’d only just met him.  And there Azul was taking me on a secret escape.  I was captivated.


Mark & Richard

Our crewmen for this trip were Mark and Richard. Comrades, colleagues and compatriots, they are men of Lough Derg who brought their passion to life by creating a boutique business that uncovers Ireland’s secret escapes.

Their genuineness in ensuring the trip is memorable for each and every guest is evident.  They are unassuming yet charming, knowledgeable and kind, engaging and excellent hosts.  Chartering Azul is done with you in mind.  Yes you.  It’s your day, your trip of Ireland’s secret escapes and you become as important as the day itself.

I found that our own engagement with Mark and Richard, their stories and their experiences was just as important as our engagement with Azul.  In fact these three are part of the product offering that perhaps you didn’t expect it to be.


The Secret

We all know the mantra of The Secret – ‘believe and you will achieve’.  A day with the Secret Ireland Escapes aka Mark, Richard and Azul will leave you in no doubt what Ireland has to offer.

The character of our people, the richness of our history, our culture which we are so proud of and our delectable tastes for great artisan food and drink.

This tour of ‘secret’ Ireland encapsulates Ireland and its people better than I have ever seen it presented, portrayed or delivered before.   The sheer quality of the food, the intrigue of the stories and the people we meet along the way, the history of our nation from battles to emigration to famine and success.  You will literally taste Ireland in this one day trip – choose a four, five, six or eight-hour tour.

Azul caters for couples, families or friends up to 10 guests or larger groups of up to 40 and it is chartered at your request.  All food (we were served food and drinks on four occasions on the yacht plus a full meal in a little Tavern on land) is included along with guided tours and the very fabulous company of Mark and Richard.  There are up to five stops on a full day and these will tantalize your soul.


The Rest of the Story…

 This is where the story ends – well my story for you.  I cannot bear to tell you the rest in case I take the intrigue out of your trip with Mr. Azul and his compatriots.

All I can say is, I laughed out loud in the Shibeen, I lost myself in the visual arts, I was queen of the castle, I got to taste local craft beers in one of Ireland’s smallest villages and how about meeting the of lady the manor?

I will never forget my day with Secret Ireland Escapes – thanks Mark and Richard and Mr. Azul – you blew my mind.

Prepare for goose bumps on your trip folks, you will not be disappointed!

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