WE had sailed out of Holyhead over to Ireland on the impressive Ulysses cruise ferry courtesy of Irish Ferries.
There were no concerns over volcanic ash clouds to worry us on this trip and the ferry company had been inundated with customers over the past fortnight or so as the fall-out from the Icelandic eruption grounded planes across Europe. Trade across the sea to Ireland was indeed brisk.
The elderly father of one of our group rang him on his mobile.
"How you’re going on son? Over."
"Fine dad. We’re just about to get on board. Why’re you calling me now?"
"That dust. Are you going to be alright? Over."
"Dad the dust only stops the planes. It doesn’t stop the ships! The ferry’s not grounded, we’ll be alright."
"Oh, well that’s OK then. Have a good time. Over and out."
We had ‘early’ dinner on board and after docking at Dublin were met by Declan and travelled out to the midlands and the village of Glasson on the shores of Lough Ree with distant views of Athlone.
We stayed the Thursday night at Glasson Golf Hotel and Country Club which was in the process of putting the finishing touches to a large scale redevelopment and was all set to host a society wedding the very next day.
Again this was a return visit for the group. We played this spectacular course soon after it opened and were immediately impressed. More improvement work has been carried out In the interim.
This majestic golf setting is snuggled down in the heart of Ireland. Another Christy O’Connor Jnr masterpiece, it had all our golfers talking. Every hole is special and several are breathtaking. Measuring over 7,000 yards from the championship tees, the course is a true test for all golfing standards.
The Glasson acres must be seen to be believed. Set on a peninsula bordering Lough Ree, the second largest lake on the River Shannon, it is bound to become the subject of many an oil painting.
The ‘signature’ hole at Glasson is the 15th, a par 3, which has become a much photographed Irish golf hole. With both tee and green situated in the lake, the natural beauty of the reed beds have been known to make the mind swim and the ball sink into the crystal clear waters of the lough.
Not mine though. Oh no. I ‘bailed out’ and took the back door way in to the edge of the green – and then four putted!
Yes, comfortably – and not for the first time!
Ireland is a golfers’ nirvana and never have golf fees offered better value for money. Many clubs – including Galway Bay – have slashed their prices due to the recession, so now is an ideal time to cash in on the pleasures of golf in Ireland.
Our group stayed at Glasson Golf Hotel and Country Club and in hotels, but cheaper, value-for money small family hotels, farmhouse, guest house/bed-and-breakfast accommodation is readily available. Contact www.discoverireland.com Tel: 08000 039 7000 or Irish Ferries irishferries.com
Our golf trip to Ireland was courtesy of Tourism Ireland and Irish Ferries.
Golf fees at the three courses played are: Glasson 45e to 60e (£37 to £50);ŠAthenry€20e to 25eŠ(£16.50 to £21); Galway Bay€45e to€60Š (£37 to £50)Š Glasson is included in the Lakelands 3 Golf Pass, which also offers Esker Hills and New Forrest Golf Clubs and all three for 100euros at the current rate. That is £83 only!Š Details of this and others on line at www.discoverireland.co. and www.discoverireland.ie/golf
Irish Ferries, from Holyhead to Dublin, offers golfers the convenience of being able to throw everything into the boot of the car and set sail for the Emerald Isle. There are good offers to be had and a great road system through to Holyhead, off Anglesey, and in Ireland. It now takes just two-and-a-half hours from Dublin to the wild and wonderful West of Ireland. www.irishferries.com
We stayed at Glasson Golf Hotel and Country Club www.glassongolfhotel.ie The Radisson Blu Hotel, Lough Atalia Road, Galway City www.radissonhotelgalway.com and at the Maldron Hotel, Cardiff lane, Dublin www.maldronhotels.com