Travel Tips

3 Irish Travel Books

There’s a difference between Guide Books and Travel Books.

Guide Books need updated regularly for prices, ratings, additions and deletions. Travel Books are more of a narrative. One person at a particular point in time taking a journey – usually a transformative experience. The Travel Book is a story while the Guide Book is ‘just the facts’.

There are already three very popular Travel Books about Ireland:

A Golf Course Called Ireland

Tom Coyne, an American, spent 16 weeks walking around entire perimeter of Ireland playing nearly 60 golf links (dunes turned into seaside courses) from Kilkee, County Clare to Ballybunion, County Kerry. He lived out of a backpack, and carried his golf clubs the entire time. At times alone, at other times, he was joined by a friend or relative. You don’t have to be a golfer to enjoy this trip.

McCarthy’s Bar

Pete McCarthy, part-Irish part-English radio personality, traveled the west coast of Ireland one summer from Cork to Donegal, at all times obeying the #1 rule “Never pass a bar that bears your name”.  Just so you know – in Ireland, McCarthy is as common a name as Miller in Lancaster County – so there was no shortage of bars. He went from pub to bed-and-breakfast and on to next pub. You don’t have to be a drinker to enjoy this trip.

Round Ireland with a Fridge

On a bet, British Comedian, Tony Hawks, hitchhiked around Ireland in one month with a kitchen appliance. His journey was followed in the media by the Irish people, who love a crazy character and a good story. This book has been pegged as ‘a classic travel adventure in the vein of Bill Bryson with a touch of Dave Barry’.  You don’t have to be crazy to enjoy this trip.

So take a trip from the comfort of your armchair with any of these writers. Meet some interesting characters and and enjoy the Irish sense of fun – before leaving home. Follow the writers as they make a foray into the Guinness Book of World Records and gain an insider’s and an outsider’s perspective.


You can, as long as you include this information with it:

Marian Joyce helps adventurous types to plan an authentic – yet affordable – Irish travel experience. Get your FREE copy of the special report ‘No More Jet Lag’ plus other travel tips at

14 Favorite Irish Movies

Anticipation is one of the best parts of any trip. So, here are my picks for Movies to get you in the Irish Mood. Take yourself on a mini-vacation and visit Ireland first on the big screen – without the jet-lag or the price-tag.
Let me introduce you the five categories:

American goes to Ireland

Kid Appropriate with Great Scenery

The Music Scene – not Musicals

Thriller – Socio-Political Content

PBS Series – Irish Soap Opera

First, my listings in each category and then a brief review of my ‘five faves’. Scroll down to check for titles to add to your Netflix queue.

American goes to Ireland

The Matchmaker *(comedy)

The Brylcreem Boys (Actually a Brit & German in Ireland)

The Nephew

Great Scenery – Kid-friendly

Waking Ned Devine* (comedy)

Secret of Roan Inish – (animal stars are seals)

Shergar – (racehorse is the star)

The Music Scene

The Commitments* (comedy)


Riverdance: either Best of DVD or Live from Radio City Music Hall

Thriller – Socio-Political Content

The Boxer

An Everlasting Piece* (comedy)

Hidden Agenda

Michael Collins

Veronica Guerin

Ballykissangel ****Series I, II, III, IV and V

PBS Series with a wonderful cast of characters and great writing that you can enjoy over again even when you’re familiar with the story lines. Set in fictional Ballykissangel, the actual location is Avoca, just south of Dublin.

Scroll down for summaries of my ‘four favourite films’ to use the Irish phrase:

Favorite The Matchmaker

A Massachusetts senator sends his aide (Janeane Garofalo) to Ireland to find some relatives so he can court the Irish-American vote in his re-election campaign. Arriving in the fictional Ballinagra, (Town of Love) Garofalo finds herself in the midst of the annual matchmaking festival. In case you’re wondering, there is indeed such a festival in Lisdoonvarna Co-Clare, during the month of September. Garofalo has trouble finding any would-be relatives for the senator, but makes a romantic connection with an Irish writer who has a day job as bartender. The movie plays on contrasts in lifestyle between the easy-going Irish and fast-paced Boston-America.

Favorite Waking Ned Devine

Ned Devine is the winner of the national lottery who dies from the shock when he discovers he’s hit the jackpot. His friends, Jackie and Michael cook up a scheme to impersonate the dead man and collect his prize money. But to pull it off, they need to persuade the rest of the village to cooperate. This film has typical west coast scenery, and portrays authentic Irish characters. Title refers to the wake or final send-off for Ned. The final scene, when all loose ends are taken care of  – is just amazing visual cinema – but I can’t give it away and ruin the movie!

Favorite: The Commitments

There are a number of wonderful Riverdance DVDs when you crave some traditional Irish music and dance. However, the my two favorite movies deal with different music styles. In The Commitments, the main character, Jimmy Rabbitte brings together a group of working class Dublin misfits and inspires them to create an American-style soul band. Though accents are tough to understand at times, the music and vocals are amazing. The plot centers on whether the band can survive personality conflicts and economic setbacks long enough to make it to the big time. Warning: there is strong language, with “effing’ this and ‘effing’ that” but you find yourself really caring about these 20-somethings who dare to dream big.

Favorite: An Everlasting Piece

Four of the other 5 movies in this category are set in Northern Ireland – Michael Collins is the exception. So the accent is very different, with more of a Scottish lilt. In An Everlasting Piece (note the spelling) two entrepreneurs, Colm and George try to set up a toupee business. Colm is a Catholic and George is a Protestant. So they are from different sides of the political fence and have to step thru the minefield of northern Irish politics. There are numerous scenes where you’re expecting the worst as they get in trouble with one cultural faction or the other.


So these are my recommendations. Hopefully, there’s one or two that appeal to you from the list – whether you want to anticipate or remember – or just watch a good movie. I invite you to try something else besides John Wayne and The Quiet Man next St Paddy’s Day!


You can, as long as you include this information with it:

Marian Joyce helps adventurous types to plan an authentic – yet affordable – Irish travel experience. Get your FREE copy of the special report ‘No More Jet Lag’ plus other travel tips,

How to House Swap in Ireland

So what’s keeping you from your dream Irish vacation?

Could it be your concern about rising costs of the following:

1) flights and travel  2) hotel and accommodation 3) car rental

4) food and fun while you’re there.

There may be a way to cancel most of the costs except the flight … a way to set your home down in a faraway neighborhood for just a week or two. It’s called House Swap. And it makes any destination affordable. Read on for an overview and comparison of five established organizations. Or e-mail us for a list of Tips from Experienced Exchangers”

Ireland House Swap: Is it for you?

My brother, Sean, and his young family have tried it twice. They’ve exchanged their home in Dublin City, Ireland, for a gated-community with pool in South Carolina, and for a house with sauna in Finland.

This type of vacation has been popular in Europe among teachers since the 1950s. Now, house-swapping has crossed over to every profession and generation. With easy Internet access you can preview the available exchanges online without the time lag waiting for the catalog to arrive.

Is it safe?

Don’t think of it as having a “stranger in your home” – think Internet dating for your house, recommends one site. You make a connection, ask lots of questions, get photos, find out about each others’ interests, share the amenities in your area that would appeal to your new Internet friends.

Get referrals from previous exchanges. But most of all agree on the ground rules. These exchanges are “based on trust but not blind trust.” If you’re open, flexible and have a sense of adventure, home exchanges are an opportunity for travel, learning and friendships.

So who’s doing it?

Traditionally, people with flexibility to arrange longer vacations. Families with young kids or teenagers swap with others in a similar stage of life. Professional couples swap with others of a similar lifestyle. And you can live like a local rather than a tourist.

How does it work?

Here are some of the most popular organizations: The two longest-running international companies are (1950) and (1953). Both publish twice-yearly catalogs where members list their homes in addition to the Internet membership. (1992) promises an exchange partner in the first year or the second year is free. (2000) has a member profile with housekeeping styles to help keep Oscar and Felix from crossing paths. (“Only in America” focuses on the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Caribbean.)

These companies act as matchmakers – they don’t screen or monitor for complaints.

However, chat rooms on these sites recall very positive experiences and few problems. As a website visitor, you can compare companies and preview descriptions and house photos online. Then, choose a company to join. Only as a member, after you’ve posted your home will you get access to other listings. Only as a member, will you be able to contact other participants.

How much does it cost?

You pay only to list your home. Arrangements with fellow members are up to you. A one-year membership ranges from $50 to $100 (at time of writing). has over 12,000 members in 50 countries. Home has over 13,000 members in 72 countries. Those are the two oldest with experienced home-swappers. Home has 20,000 members in 110 countries and also offers hospitality exchanges. Digsville Home & Hospitality has been called the eBay of house swapping. Their tips section is excellent.

Exchange Homes Only in America is free to charter members as it builds its initial database in the continental U.S. Their website has sample agreements and emails to walk you through the entire process

So will my family be doing a house-swap soon?

I’ve discovered my kids and spouse aren’t as enthralled with this idea as I am. Also you start to look at your home differently. It’s like when preparing for the real estate market. You see the flaws and maintenance tasks that need done. So first of all I’ve got to fix up house a little, do that painting I’ve put off. Then maybe I can persuade the family to try it for a long weekend … or maybe do a hospitality exchange.


You can, as long as you include this information with it:

Marian Joyce helps adventurous types to plan an authentic – yet affordable – Irish travel experience. Get your FREE copy of the special report “No More Jet Lag” plus other travel tips, at:

Toastmaster Tips

TIP: When you travel, visit a Toastmasters Club

As well as meeting interesting and diverse people, you will gain local insights you might otherwise miss. To find a Club, just go to the Free Resources tab on the website and select the country or city. You don’t need an invitation, just show up. Guests are always welcome.

If you don’t play golf,  join business clubs or ride a Harley, you may find that this group can help you to connect with others, learn, grow and have fun.

If you are a non-Toastmaster who is curious to know what the buzz is all about, visit a local club in your town first, so you know what to expect.

First, let’s Clear up Erroneous Assumptions and Stereotypes

Toastmasters is …

NOT the Sertoma or Rotary

It is a method to improve communication and speaking skills via club meeting roles – and a “show and tell for adults”.

NOT a group of “Emcees”

It is a method to learn leadership and team-building skills via club officers’ training program.

NOT the Elks, the Moose or the Groundhog Lodge

It is a local organization that attracts individuals motivated by personal development.

NOT the Chamber of Commerce Networking “Mixer”

It is an international organization through which you can connect with local people and feel instantly at home.

“Every time you speak, you are auditioning for leadership” said James C. Humes. Maybe this quote resonates with me because of the many times in the past I wanted to speak up but couldn’t summon the nerve. Toastmasters is a safe place to get out of your comfort zone or make a mistake. It’s a supportive group setting where you gain the confidence to say whatever it is you have to say.

Things I Learned at Toastmasters

  • How to think on my feet
  • How to give a short impromptu speech
  • How to involve and interact with a group
  • How to be a more confident speaker
  • How to fake it until I feel it
  • How to turn nervous energy into positive energy
  • How to have fun when speaking to a group
  • How to use body language, props, and visual aids
  • How to maintain eye-contact without over-reliance on notes
  • How to evaluate another’s performance
  • How to give both positive and negative feedback
  • How to accept – even look forward to – constructive criticism
  • How to run a meeting
  • How to introduce a speaker
  • How to stick to an agenda or time limit
  • How to be a better listener
  • How to be a better observer of people
  • How to be supportive and encourage others as they learn

This article was adapted from a speech given at Franklin & Marshall Toastmasters Club on the way to my Competent Communicator certificate. From the first speech, known as The Icebreaker in July 2005, to the Inspire Your Audience project in January 2007, I learned a lot more than anticipated and thanks to fellow members had fun in the process! Now Toastmasters is part of the pattern of my life. From “Storytelling” to “Special Occasion” speeches – the projects, the fun and the learning continues.


You can, as long as you include this information with it:

Marian Joyce helps adventurous types to plan an authentic – yet affordable – Irish travel experience. Get your FREE copy of the special report ‘No More Jet Lag’ plus other travel tips,