Rachel Gaffney's Letter from Texas

An Illustrated History of the Phoenix Park, Landscape and Management to 1880The famous foodie who’s flying the tricolour for us in Texas is looking for people with particular interests - drivers, guides and authors, who can introduce American visitors to people in Ireland who share their interests

As my business expands with more and more people from Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma contacting me to organise their trips to Ireland, I now have another need and therefore have some much needed research to do when I go to Ireland for a month this summer.

That need is for drivers, guides and authors, especially people who have a deep love of history and their community. One might be tempted to think that finding these people would be easy, with so many websites available nowadays and personal recommendations, but I have learned that is not the case at all. In this age social media, websites and global accessibility, I still prefer to hire people based on meeting them in the flesh.

Last year, I was looking for a driver for clients from Texas. One of their specific requests was to have a driver who was discreet. The driver I normally use was unavailable so I reached out to a few people and asked for recommendations.

I called and spoke to quite a few people around Ireland. One driver proceeded to tell me who he has driven around the country and where. This was immediately a red flag. He did not feel the need to tell me about his experience or anything about himself but preferred to share his client list with me instead.

What happens when your client is an avid collector of wools and yarns? I have a client who travels to places like Uruguay, Patagonia and Northern Tajikistan to purchase hand spun and dyed yarns. She would like to learn about Irish wool and meet the small crafters and spinners.

Another client has a love of Irish history and is especially interested in the 17th Century. The list of interests and hobbies never cease to amaze me. This is why I need a rolodex of resources sitting on my desk, filled with drivers, guides, authors and people who love what they do and even more importantly I need the people who specialise in one subject, topic and interest. I am always watching and listening for such contacts and often I find them in the most unusual ways.

As some of you may recall, I chaired the Texas Emerald Ball on March 5th for the American Ireland Fund, a charity that raises money for charities around the island of Ireland. People travelled from around the United States and others came from England and Ireland to attend this very fashionable gala. It was on this night that I met Aidan McCullen. Aidan, former Irish rugby player, capped for Ireland and former back for Leinster is now Head of Innovation and Partnership for RTE.

Dr John McCullen

Whilst we were having lunch the following day we were talking about our backgrounds and families in Ireland, (as most Irish people do!) It was then that I learned about his father, Dr John McCullen.

Dr McCullen is now retired but was chief superintendent with the Office of Public Works and was responsible for the management of Phoenix Park. He is the authour of “An Illustrated History of the Phoenix Park, Landscape and Management to 1880”, commissioned by the Office of Public Works (pictured top right).

The Phoenix Park was established in 1662 so it was a perfect fit for my client, whose interest is 17th century Ireland. Who better to introduce the park to my clients than Dr McCullen? And so he did.

I have taken people foraging for seaweed with Dr Prannie Rhatigan, author of “Irish Seaweed Kitchen”, they have cooked with Neven Maguire, dined and met with Clodagh McKenna and all receive a copy of that person’s book.

I like to find people who have published books so my clients can receive a copy before their visit to Ireland. I am always looking and always open to suggestions. Simply email me Rachel@Rachelgaffneys.com

Rachel Gaffney's Real Ireland


: Rachel Gaffneys Real Ireland
Follow me on Twitter: @Rachelgaffney

Email: Rachel@Rachelgaffneys.com

Watch 'The Irish Kitchen' now on HULU


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