Annie's Blog

Ann O'Dowd - Personal Guide in Ireland - Totally Worth It!

A Tripadvisor Review

We are reminiscing about celebrating our 2019 fiftieth wedding anniversary in Killarney, the Ring of Kerry, out to Skellig Island, and … beyond. Behind this peaceful, romantic, and exciting get-away was the magic of Annie O Dowd of Kingdom Guided Tours.

We typically organize our own travel activities and implement them, having done so to more than a dozen countries and many spots across the US and Canada. So why didn’t we do this for our fiftieth? The main reason was that we had discovered Kingdom Guided Tours the previous year when I had to go to Dublin on business… and we needed fast help for a relaxing trip to Kingdom Kerry and southwest Ireland. That was the first time we had ever used a personal guide, and wow, what a wonderful time that was in October of 2018 with Annie!

During that first trip, it was clear that Annie cared about us, wanted us to enjoy our Killarney area vacation days, and not only drove and narrated geographical, historical, and cultural information but set up activities so that everything was seamless and flexible. Her scores of local contacts in county Kerry and throughout southwest Ireland meant that she could arrange a jaunting car ride in Killarney, boat ride to Innisfallen Abbey on Innisfallen Island, and a dinner plan so that all of the connecting hassle was eliminated and the pleasures were maximized. We never felt worn out; the time with Annie versus free time to enjoy our wonderful hotel and the town of Killarney was mutually decided.

So after thinking about our fiftieth anniversary options, we concluded – “Why not return to beautiful southwest Ireland, and with the help of Annie, knowing that our celebration would be a sure success?” And so it was a precious time – and actually cost less than some of the other trips we had considered on our own.

Kingdom Guided Tours trip advisor reviews

On our previous trip we had seen the Skellig Islands from the mainland and our intrigue was stimulated when we agreed with Annie to a visit to the Skellig Experience Visitor Centre in Portmagee. So in 2019, we wanted to get up close and personal to these islands and feel what the ancient monks must have felt. Annie arranged for a ride out and around the islands with the Skellig Falcon; it was an adventure as well as a spiritual experience. Exploring this part of the Skellig Ring is also the area in which Annie grew up; so stories along the road were personal and the conversations full of insight into older as well as contemporary Irish life. And a trip back to Skelligs Chocolate where world-class chocolates are made and sold was fun; we bought plenty to bring home. We also stopped to walk through the ancient Ballinskellig cemetery.

On the day of our fiftieth anniversary we took a day trip that included the pony and carriage ride through the Gap of Dunloe and then ended by boating down through the Upper Killarney lakes and across the Lough Leane back to Ross Castle. From there we took a jaunting car back to The Lake Hotel for our anniversary dinner.

On day trips with Annie we went beyond County Kerry to the shops of Kinsale and a visit to the nearby Lusitania Museum & Old Head Signal Tower. My own interest in model trains prompted Annie to take us to explore the West Cork Model Railway Village in Clonakilty. On another day, we meandered through the countryside, then took a short boat ride past seals and other wildlife to Garnish Island. Here we spent an hour walking through the lovely formal and casual gardens; it was a damp day, but every day is full of beauty in southwest Ireland. The day was supported with little treats from here and there, including at the amazing Molly Gallivans Visitor Center. They have many fun historical exhibits along a short walking trail.

The concept of a “personal guide” for you and your loved one(s) is that it is totally customized – in advance via email or phone conversations as well as daily as Annie listens to your interests, consults the weather and the clock, and offers options that will please you. All of the sites mentioned in this reminiscing, were ones that we wanted to see and experience. Kingdom Guided Tours will help you see and experience what you and your family will enjoy.

Personal Guide Ireland
The beauty is that you can leave the driving on very narrow and obviously unfamiliar roads to Annie, and you can go with the flow, with her help. She is well experienced and skillful in organizing the day or days in such a manner that will leave you totally satisfied with your visit to Kerry, Cork, or any other nearby sites. Normally when traveling, you can pick up little things about the culture and views of local people by talking with cab drivers, wait persons, and the random resident one might meet. What we found with Annie, is how much more you can learn from spending several days with a person, just casually. Annie is a thoughtful, intelligent, kind person and easy to talk with. She is well educated, has been a teacher for over 20 years, and fun to be with. She has two young adult children of her own. Short of becoming a resident, having Kingdom Guided Tours’ Ann O Dowd with you is the next best way to get to know Ireland. We learned so much, had an awesome time with Annie on both trips, and cannot recommend her highly enough… if you are lucky enough that she can fit you into her busy life.