Follow us on:

Holly’s Memoirs

8th May 2020

Introduction:

It’s been an unusual chapter with the lockdowns and working from home, however, it has brought time to pause and reminisce. I have many fond memories from my childhood right through to setting up our business, Dream Escape in 2005. Whilst I have been delving into a variety of different chapters of my life, I have been thinking about my times living in all three of the countries that we are so fortunate to represent; Ireland, England and Scotland.

I decided to share with you some of my memories and thoughts on some of these beautiful parts of the world. I hope it might bring a smile to your face, remind those that have been to some of these wonderful destinations and inspire others on what is possible when the barriers to travel are lifted and we can all explore again.

Chapter One:

Donegal, Ireland

My first chapter begins in Ireland. I grew up in Northern Ireland (I’ll touch on this in a later chapter) and we used to have many happy family holidays in southern Ireland. This is where I want to begin, in a beautiful remote part of the country called Donegal. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Donegal, it’s the most northerly western point of Ireland. It has often been said that Donegal is Ireland’s forgotten county and I would wholeheartedly agree. It is Escapism at it’s purest.

We used to stay near a bustling market town called Ballybofey, surrounded by rolling hills and close to the River Finn. The scenery on the drive from the north of Ireland would change to undulating roads with peat bogs (often with sheep warming themselves on the tarmac) to the smell of turf fires. Time stood still and the lighting was so soft and the air thick that we all slept like babies!

My parents are keen fishermen and I used to spend many hours exploring the banks of the river with my siblings whilst my parents fished for salmon. On other days we would head to the coast and explore vast sandy deserted beaches, fish for mackerel and BBQ in the dunes. The beaches were pristine and on sunny days we would brave the Atlantic and swim. It was never remotely warm but embracing!


With my mother on the river bank.


Beautiful Deserted beaches.

I have returned to Donegal many times over the years and I’ve loved being able to return with my own family. On one of our more recent visits we took our youngest son to explore Donegal and meet some of the lovely people that look after our clients. On this expedition we stayed in an incredible lighthouse, Fanad Head Lighthouse. A fully restored lighthouse that you can tour and stay in, with exceptional views out to the Atlantic. On the day we chose to stay Storm Ophelia happened to be coming through Ireland. Having narrowly missed a hurricane in the British Virgin Islands we couldn’t believe that we were going to experience a major storm in Ireland in a lighthouse!


Fanad Lighthouse.

Our boys are avid Star Wars fans and we spent time with one of our expert mountaineer guides who was on set at Malin Head with the cast during the filming of Star Wars, The Last Jedi (2017). Bren is extremely knowledgeable and our youngest loved the walking tour of all the famous locations.


Star Wars!

My last visit to Donegal was with my father to see David complete an epic 20 day solo Wild Atlantic Cycle Bike Ride from Kinsale all the way to Muff in Donegal. It was an incredible 2195km ride and he managed to raise over £10,000 for 3 key charities with so much support from the travel industry and friends.


David cycling the epic Wild Atlantic Way.

Donegal will always hold a special place in my heart and I was honored to have been asked to be on a National Geographic panel about Donegal a few years ago. It is without doubt a really special part of the world and one that I would happily return to often.


Pointing out Slieve League to our youngest.

Below are some lovely articles that have been written about Donegal and go into more depth about some of the highlights. They pick up on the spectacular scenery, Sleive League (Europe’s highest cliffs), history, Christian relics, shipwrecks and more.

Click on the below links to read the articles:

Conde Nast Traveler Article

National Geographic Traveller Article

International Traveller

The locals are delightful and will welcome you with open arms and leave lasting memories.


Leaving Donegal but always ready to return!

  • "Probably the best of the best in the UK and Ireland for organising amazing trips. They know their stuff, have fantastic relationships with suppliers and always go the extra mile."

    Rob Arrow, Al Tayyar Group

  • "Lovely suite. Fabulous private tours. Everything has exceeded our expectations. "

    William A Heim, Client

  • "I had the most wonderful time with you and learned so much...What you offer is rare and much needed in the truly exclusive travel world. "

    Jean Newman-Glock, Signature Travel Network

  • "You were the heart and soul of the trip….I truly admired your sunny personality, sense of humor, organization and professionalism.  You also demonstrated  that a guide’s work is never done as you were constantly researching….. Did you ever rest??? "

    Sharon Delano, Frosch

  • "We want to thank you and the team from Dream Escape.  All six of us in our group had a wonderful time, and we all agreed we owed that in large measure to the work of Dream Escape. From the onset of working with you, you demonstrated a tremendous knowledge about all the activities we wished to pursue —from playing golf to dining at excellent restaurants to seeing historical sites and the Tattoo and Fringe Festival.  And, then you executed "

    Thomas Cohen, Client

  • "THANK YOU a zillion times over for choosing/assigning Rosie to be with this family.  She MADE the trip for them – there’s no other way to put it! "

    Jill Jergel, Frontiers International Travel

  • "Our holiday in Scotland now tops their lists of best trips…… To their growing list of amazing and memorable first-time experiences, our sons may add fishing for trout and salmon on the River Tay; steering a motor boat on Loch Ness; and taking private guided tours on Culloden Moor Of the eight full days we were in Scotland, Alex and Mattie thought each and every day was the best"

    Michael Guadarrama & Trammi Nguyen, clients of Peter Carideo. CRC Travel

  • "All six of us were deeply moved by the whole experience. Bravo Dream Escape "

    Max Levy, Direct client

  • "Thank you Karen and all of the staff and guides affiliated with Dream Escape…..the Flemings are having an awesome tour of Scotland. You all have made me look like a star! "

    Joni Gerace, The Travel Society, LLC

  • "Thanks for all your help and we can chalk this one up as a big success!   Our anniversary celebration was all we could have hoped for "

    Clients of Courtney Regan, Affiliate of Brownell Travel

  • "Rosie was MORE than outstanding – she went out of her way to help us in every regard...She was so knowledgeable – we all loved her"

    Jill A. Jergel, Frontiers International Travel

  • "I cannot thank you, Nicola and all the Dream Escape “clan” for the wonderful care & attention you have provided, and are providing for my clients"

    Cindy Evans, Travel Consultant

  • "I hope I have another opportunity to work with Dream Escape in the near future. The company is so professional, yet approachable and easy to work with. It has been a pleasure!"

    Carole McFarland, Universal Travel

  • "Dream Escape is delivering in a superb manner. Jim Johnston is a great driver and one of the best guides we've had - I wish to very much thank the Dream Escape Team for fulfilling a Dream…"

    Donald M. Davis, President, Luxury Travel, Inc.

  • "Thank you all so much it's great to have trusted friends on the ground to take care of our clients!"

    Peter Carideo, CRC Travel

  • "The trip was great.... Dream Escape is the name of the game"

    Ann Lipschitz, Worldview Travel

  • "Your level of service is just outstanding"

    Debra Fini, VWTI

  • "Dream Escape don’t just organise trips – they create adventures"

    Financial Times, How to Spend it

  • "It was, without doubt, one of the most spectacular weekends I have ever had"

    Country Life

  • "David Tobin’s an ace at getting inside private castles and estates and he’s well connected.... "

    Conde Nast Traveller Magazine

  • "The level of service they provide is outstanding. They truly care about every aspect of the trip to ensure you have a fantastic stay. Rosie is a hidden gem of a tour guide. Just fabulous."

    Yvonne Malka, Signature Travel Network, April 2018