“The tour was both enjoyable and educational. The comfortable lectures are paired with visits to sites and attractions which harken to the eras that the lecturer covers. I consider myself to be reasonably informed on Irish history, but I learned a different context from Niamh. She presents a balanced, yet enlightened perspective, and encourages participants to draw parallels to modern times. This makes the tour informative, but fun! I highly endorse this tour for those seeking an in-depth experience of Ireland.”
Colleen Kennedy, Diplomatic & Guest Relations, Milwaukee Irish Fest. 2020
We're so glad we participated in The Calling, 2020. I must say, signing up for a trip to Ireland in January didn't sound like the best idea last August, but the trip turned out to be one of the best we've ever taken (and we've been on many, many travels with Road Scholar, Earthbound Expeditions, and Oversees Adventure Travels). We've been talking it up ever since we got home!
At the top of the list: the great knowledge of Irish history and culture shared by John and Niamh. The morning lectures in Bundoran were fascinating, especially because they were coordinated with the sites we saw: the Lough Crew Passage graves and the talk on prehistory Ireland; O'Donnell Castle and the origins of the Irish with the history of the British in Ireland; seeing the workhouse and cemeteries and the talk on the Emigrants/ Tale (and also our visit at the EPIC exhibit in Dublin); Derry and the Free Derry exhibit and the talk on Northern Ireland and the Troubles; and Yeats country and Sligo and the talk on modern Ireland. It was a perfect way to present the information!
Also, we loved the music every night! And even more often with TradFest. Such fun and really a signature of this trip.
The beauty of Donegal and the rough and beautiful coast was breath-taking. We enjoyed the contrast between well-scheduled days in Donegal and freedom to be on our own in Dublin.
And, finally, the great camaraderie of our traveling group that was inspired by our fabulous, funny, friendly leaders! How you both gave such equal attention and care to each of us.
Ruth Williams & Sandy Stehling, 2020.
Been home for two weeks and still basking in the glow of a an amazing experience in Ireland! When people ask what was the best part, how do you explain the feeling that comes from spending time with good people in an extraordinary place?
Nancy Satola, 2020.
Russ and I loved this trip and hope to join you for another! We’ve traveled several times in Ireland both independently and on guided tours and thought we knew quite a bit about Irish history. However, your daily talks Niamh gave us so much more information and enriched the day’s sightseeing. Combining the more rural and wild Donegal with Dublin and Trad Fest was a perfect mix. We also loved staying in only two hotels so were able to unpack and feel “at home.” The nightly music on the property in Bundoran was terrific. And, the included restaurant meals were outstanding. We enjoyed the company of our fellow tour-goers too."
Kathy and Russ Schultz, 2020.
I can't thank you enough for keeping my information from my 2017 trip, and including me in the invitation for The Calling. This was my niece Myra's first trip abroad and neither one of us was disappointed. Everything about the trip was awesome - from the cliffs to the horseback riding in the dunes - to the marvelous entertainment at Tradfest. I do so much treasure this opportunity, especially since I got to share it with my niece (who's more like a little sister to me). I can't stop bragging about the beauty, and the history, and the absolutely wonderful connections you laid out so succinctly in your lectures, tours, and just general conversations. I will always feel like I'm joined at the hip to all my Irish friends and to our joint heritage. I can't wait to make my return trip.
Kay McCutcheon, 2020.
We are raving about this trip to anyone who will listen! Going into it, we didn't expect it to be much more than the usual tour. During it, we were amazed at how well done and informative it all was. Highly recommend.
John & Lesley Bauer, 2020.
John and Niamh run the perfect tour. They are organized and ON TIME! They are knowledgeable, with great senses of humor and the ability to roll with the punches. If you want to know about the history of Ireland, this is the trip for you! We visited many places in Donegal and Derry that illustrated so well what Niamh discussed in our daily briefings.
If you want to be exposed to both traditional and contemporary Irish music, this is the trip for you! The musicians in Bundoran and in Dublin were top notch. Everything went so smoothly, without a hitch!
Our group got along famously. Everyone on the trip was passionate about Ireland, its people and its music. We bonded quickly!
Thank you for such a wonderful trip! We will tell our friends about it and I hope you continue to offer this trip for years to come!
Mary and Bill Powell, 2020
I liked the hotel in Dublin the first night as a good nights sleep was needed. I'm so glad you did the northern part namely Donegal and Derry. I really enjoyed those little jaunts close to the ocean. Now that was what I envisioned Ireland to be! The accommodations were really comfortable. The breakfasts at both locations was something I looked forward to . Just loved the fact we had time to ourselves to enjoy the pub and music. I never felt rushed and got to have nice conversation with the other travelers and the pub staff. The breakfast time at Both places again gave time to chat. I really thought the morning lectures before going out was the best part. Niamh you have an enthusiasm that was refreshing and so insightful. I learned so much and will always think back on the great memories you instilled. Donegal was beautiful and loved the shops. Derry was a real eye opener and you and John answered many questions I always had about that time in history. Trad Fest was wonderful. Liked the idea of all the different venues. Dublin is not hard to navigate either by foot or bus. Make sure everyone goes to the book of Kells. Wow🤗 I really feel the whole trip was worth the money. We made new friends and will be getting together again soon once it warms up a little. I would end by saying that this trip was not only about seeing Ireland but you two made me really feel Ireland in it's beauty ,history and most friendly people I've ever met. Thanks again for one of those trips you can never forget."
Phil Dobberfuhl 2019
This was one of our most interesting visits to Ireland. We got to see things that we didn’t even know existed, and we also had a great tour guide to explain everything to us. Having someone with local knowledge and experience really helped us to understand how the history influences events today. Visiting Derry was more memorable with the opportunity to hear from people who were personally involved in the events. You should go on the next trip!"
John Mahony 2019
The trip lived up to and exceeded my expectations. Two home bases over 10 days was just right. Morning "class" was great. I loved getting new ideas and perspectives on being Irish as well as the history surrounding our site for the day. While things were scheduled. I never felt constricted by the schedule. Food - Just terrific. Exceeded expectations. I think that was the one comment I heard from everyone I talked to. I really enjoyed the entertainment Donegal - I liked the fact that the musicians were all from Donegal. Having more than one night in one place allowed you to have a 'home' Pub. That was great.
Trad fest was awesome- I came to hear new bands and I certainly did. Thanks to Irish Fest I had a delegate badge. All in all, a great trip - I would recommend it to anyone wanting really enjoy Ireland, learn about Ireland, and see Ireland as it is.
Jane Walrath 2019
What a great trip! We had a super time. We loved the blending and balance of the locations—from the pastoral hills of Northwest Ireland to the excitement and bustle of TradFest and Dublin. The coordination by the Institute of Study Abroad was seamless, and the historical and cultural information they provided added a depth of understanding, which enhanced all that we experienced. In addition, the Irishfest staff that accompanied us were 100 percent there for us, whenever and wherever, making us really felt part of the Irishfest family. And here’s another plus—-Although we were hesitant to travel in January, as it is not prime tourist season, we found the weather to be much more agreeable than Wisconsin’s arctic blast. Daffodils were in bloom and sheep were grazing on green, grassy hills. What a relief from the snow and cold! We highly recommend this trip."
Rusty and Anne Connolly Gibbs 2019
The classes and the field trips were exceptional - a favorite part for us. The lectures were just the right amount of detail, very interesting, and the speakers clearly were passionate about the subject matter. Thank you! We really appreciated the landmarks selected. On our previous trips to Ireland, we didn't have any exposure to them and it really rounded out our knowledge of Irish history and culture. Food was excellent (and I set a high bar for that). We loved the breakfasts and the pastries. The local restaurants with Irish fare we outstanding. The accommodations were just fine. Very roomy and comfortable. We thought it was excellent value (compared with our previous trips)." Jennifer Fagan 2019
We thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful mix of culture, music and history. Niamh and John were excellent hosts who are very knowledgeable about Ireland. The pace of this trip was perfect. We saw many different sights, and also had time to relax and enjoy the "local" experience." Mark & Wendy Marzion 2019
The ISA Ireland trip was well planned, very informative, lots of fun. It was led by positive, intelligent, organized, personal leaders that know the history and the places of interest because they also live in Ireland. I would recommend this enjoyable, educational trip to everyone interested in learning more about Ireland, going on field trips and attending music concerts/gigs." Elaine Stelter 2019
“A perfect way to see the real Ireland, while learning the stories, fables and challenges Donegal has faced over the last centuries. Fun, musically awesome and educational . . . everyone who loves anything Irish should take this tour”. Bob & Davney Stahley 2019
I loved the trip and I'm ready to come back again. The job you did was phenomenal. Your love of Eire and its struggles shone through. Loved your passion. Ready for another lecture. I'm a college-educated, blue collar worker and your lectures on Rights (civil, equal, workers, human) Issues hit home with us. Loughcrew was wonderful! Donegal, fun. Beleek, a good choice, and many spent their tourist $$$.(We spent the day on the beach & back to Tullan Strand - our kind of fun) And the trip to Derry, Fantastic!!!"
Dave Rymaszewski 2019
The pub band in Donegal was my favorite band. Both hotels were great. Great locations.
I learned so much! I think the trip was a great value! All the restaurants you picked for us had great service and great food. And the menus were great too. Thank you! I can’t wait to come back!"
Jennifer Whetter 2019
Your well planned trip was "the best of both worlds" (rural and city). Arriving in Dublin allowed us to rest up from our flight. Our travel to Donegal was perfect. The rural aspects of Northern Ireland gave us tourists the experience of daily life at a slower pace.
The housing was good. The bed was comfortable and the shower water was hot. The rooms were comfortable. The breakfasts were delicious! I was surprised that Liam went to the local bakery every day. The coffee/tea was the best!
The Power Points each morning at the end of breakfast were well done preparing us for the day's tour. The choices of restaurants were just right too. The food choices were accommodating to personal diets. And the special drinks at our evening meals were good too.
The evening music in Donegal was perfect. The Henry Girls were my favorite. The Tradfest music was awesome. Such a variety of musical instruments and music!'
Mary Jo Dobberfuhl 2019