AT THE recent Irish Tourist Board Conference Travel Workshop luncheon in the Hilton Hotel, Park Lane in London, they served the new "Ballygowan Irish Spring Water", crystal clear, sparkling natural spring water, a delight to taste, which is bottled in Newcaslte West, County Limerick.
It will be on sale soon in Britain. It was a refreshing start to the Irish tourist season which is offering the lowest fares ever by sea and by air to Ireland, which bodes well for holiday makers from Britain, and should encourage the return to Ireland of Conferences such as that of the Catenian Association, and other Catholic organisations.
As ever, Ireland is a land of paradox, as for example, I found myself discussing pilgrimages to Medjugorje with Joe O'Reilly, travel agent, from Cork. Joe, a Chevalier of Saint George, is an enthusiastic supporter of Fatima. He agreed to differ with my belief in the authenticity of the apparitions of Our Lady in Yugoslavia.
Joe held that the middle name of Marian devotion is "Obedience", and he did not see the Franciscans in Medjugorje being obedient to their bishop. If you want to continue the discussion with him, or talk of pilgrimages, or other travel, he is to be found at Lancaster House, Western Road, Cork, opposite Jurys hotel.
I enquired from Convention top executive, Tom Giblin, as to the whereabouts of one of his absent colleagues. With a perfectly straight face he explained that the colleague was on loan, doing a two year stint as Tourism Adviser to the Government of Papua New Guinea. Tom said that he had been head-hunted.
With the supremo of Irish hoteliers, Vincent Doyle, who heads the largest group of privately owned hotels in Ireland, seven in all, and others in America and in Britain, I discussed his latest development — the addition of 70 rooms to his luxury Dublin hotel, The Westbury, off Grafton Street.
The adjacent and famous Carmelite Priory is helping to make way for this new expansion. As it is, when you stay at the Westbury, you can practically fall out of bed into the Carmelite Church for morning Mass.
P V Doyle hotels have a wide range of prices from the most expensive, the luxurious Berkeley Court in Lansdowne Road, Ballsbridge, through the medium priced and popular 420 bedroom hotel, The Burlington, in Upper Leeson Street, to the modestly priced Montrose Hotel on Stillorgan Road. All seven hotels give great value for money.
I met Patricia Barry (a sister of the former Irish Foreign Minister, Peter Barry), representing the De Luxe Dromoland Castle Hotel, and the Clare Inn, both near Shannon Airport in County Clare. Mary Meeham was representing the Group of six Great Southern Hotels.
Headed by Brendan Maher, they are the classic hotels of Ireland. They comprise the Great Southern, Kilarney, and the Great Southern at Parknasilla, also in County Kerry, the Corrib Hotel, near Galway City, the Great Southern in Eyre Square, in Galway City, the Rosslare Hotel, overlooking the harbour, and the Torc Hotel in Killarney.
My idea of a heavenly holiday is the Parknasilla, on the Bay of Kenmare, in the Kingdom of Kerry. It has 60 rooms, a private jetty on the bay for sailing, a sea-water swimming pool, all amid acres of semi-tropical gardens. The Kerry staff give the hotel a uniquely warm hearted and courteous atmosphere.
Arguably the classic hotel of Dublin is the Shelborne, at St Stephen's Green, across the Green from Newman's old Royal University at number 86, and the incomparable Byzantine gem of a University Church, which he had built for £4000.
The Shelborne, beloved of Thackeray and G K Chesteron, is the flagship of Trust House Forte in Ireland. The tall figure of Alan Blest is at the helm, and it has just been re-furbished by THF as a cost of £4 million.
The Talbot Hotel, Wexford, famous for its Guillemot Restaurant and Pike Grill, is the favourite watering-hole of Bernard Levin when he attends the annual Wexford International Opera Festival, which was started by Sir Compton Mackenzie, Dr Tom Walsh, and Eugene McCarthy of White's Hotel.
Liam Lynch, the manager of the Talbot, has established moderately priced holiday weekends. He is an enthusiast of the new Wexford Heritage Park of 30 acres, which is just three miles from Wexford town, on the River Slaney. It is Ireland's archaeological theme park, complete with a crannog, a Viking ship, a motte and bailey, a mesolithic site, Ogham stones, and a ring-fort. It has superb panoramic views of woodlands, marsh-lands and mountains.
White's Hotel, on the main street in Wexford, has been run by the same family for 200 years. It began as a coaching inn. It was a favourite of J B Morton, "Beachcomber". Kelly's Strand Hotel, Rosslare, has a reputation for some of the best food served in Ireland, and has been run by the same family since 1895.
Mary Bowe's Regency period house hotel, Marlfield House, Gorey, County Wexford, serves the best roast beef in Ireland, and was once the haunt of T E Lawrence of Arabia. The Ferrycarrig Hotel, beside Wexford's Heritage Park, is well known for its Sandpiper Restaurant.
Sir Huw Wheldon, director general of BBC TV and an ardent supporter of the Wexford Festival, once told me over lunch in the Garrick Club, that it was on the Ferrycarrig Road, at two o'clock in the morning, after a party given by Fintan O'Connor, that he saw elephants advancing upon his car! It transpired that he really had seen elephants, as they were Out exercising on the deserted road from the winter quarters of Duffy's Circus.
Dublin and County Dublin hotels represented at the Conference included Paddy Fitzpatrick's unique Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel, atop Killiney, set in its own grounds, and the Court Hotel Killarney. Both are but 25 minutes from Dublin City by the inexpensive rapid rail service, the Dart. Handy, if you do not wish to bring your car into the heart of the city where larger and more expensive cars are all too frequently stolen by young joy-riders or vandalised.
Representatives of Jury's hotels in Dublin, Limerick and Cork were at the Conference. Their Cork hotel is being extended and the Dublin hotel at Ballsbridge has an entirely new entrance and hall. The Dublin Jurys is famous for its cabaret and dinner, and for its cheerful and efficient young staff, and for the fact that its Coffee Dock seems to serve food all night.
Michael MacNulty, the ever optimistic Director-General of the Irish Tourist Board told me that "British people in Ireland are very welcome." He might have added that their pet dogs are also welcome, as there are no quarantine restrictions between Ireland and Britain.
There is, therefore, a vast untapped market in Britain of families with pets who restrict their annual holidays to Britain because they do not wish to be parted from their pets. It they were informed that they could take their dogs with them to Ireland in the family car, Irish ferries would do a greatly increased business. The Tourist Board marketing theorists should wake up to this fact. _ Ireland has shown its faith in its tourist potential by appointing, for the very first time, a Minister of Tourism and Transport. Hitherto, tourism came under a minister who had a portfolio which included Agriculture, Fish and Forestries and Sundries. Now "WatchThis-Space" John P Wilson, a classical scholar, a gentleman, an orator, and a native of County Cavan, is the new tourist supremo, with real powers.
Such is his enthusiasm, and so un-Procrustean are his tourist ideas and ideals, that he merits a whole article to himself. So, watch this space, May 29.
In the meantime, for further information on all hotels mentioned in this article, and for general information on Irish holidays, contact the Irish Tourist Office at 150, New Bond Street, London WI telephone 01-493-3201, or your local travel agent. MANY people including Catholics, have got the idea that the second Vatican Council spelt the ending, or phasing out, of Latin in the liturgy of the Western Church.
Some casual Sunday visitors to solemn Mass sung in Latin at, say, the Brompton Oratory, imagine that it is a "Tridentine" celebration, whereas it is the new rite of the Church intended by the Church.
One American tourist told me that he was incensed that Latin was still being used in England.
Especially in the United States it is believed that the second Vatican Council ordered the use of vernacular languages in the liturgy and severely discouraged the use of Latin.
Not so. In 1963 the Constitution on the Liturgy set out the principles of a revised rite.
The Constitution stated unequivocally that "the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites".
Our own Bishops of England and Wales, at their Low Week meeting in 1975, declared:— "The Conference urges priests to see that the Latin Mass in the new rite is encouraged."
This was the intention of Council and Holy Father. In 1980 Pope John Paul II said that:—
"The Roman Church has special obligations towards Latin . . . and she must manifest them whenever the opportunity presents itself."
The old Roman rite of Mass, now miscalled "Tridentine", had been built up over the centuries of the Christian era. It remained substantially unchanged until 1969.
Musicians of every generation contributed to its splendour. The movements of the celebrant were laid down with a precision which minimised individual idiosyncrasy.
True its actual performance vas sometimes poor, even perfunctory; and the process of attaining a unity of action blurred the component parts of the rite so that the whole ceremony became open to the not unfounded criticism of ritualism.
Although some prayers were dropped or abbreviated and options added, and the scope of the scriptural readings greatly extended, the reforms of 1969 did not change the fundamental structure of the Mass; they were designed to clarify it and thus to encourage the congregation to a more active kind of participation.
This process has itself been criticised as causing a decline in reverence and, in its suddenness, as a grave psychological miscalculation; and the Mass we now know seems to many to place an undue emphasis on the liturgy of the Word.
This may partly account for the widespread but mistaken identification of the revised rite