his issue's date is March 17, St.
Patrick's Day, so what else could this column be about but Ireland?
I've enjoyed my time there immensely and count it as one of the
This year, rather than my going on about it, I asked Jim Murphy,
chairman and CEO of Brendan Worldwide Vacations, to explain
Ireland's perennial appeal. Brendan has sent thousands to Ireland
over the years, and no one knows the place better than Jim. Here's
what he says:
"Americans like Ireland because, with all due humility, I tell
you that Irish people like Americans, and it comes across.
"Even if the original name came to America in the 1700s, any
American with names like Kelly, Murphy or O'Reilly is considered
Irish by the natives. Of course, every Irish person has a cousin in
"For Americans, the 100,000 'welcomes' is a fact and not fiction
dreamt up by someone in the tourism industry.
"From my own visits to Ireland, I still enjoy -- just as I did
40 years ago when traveling with my children -- staying at an Irish
"Sitting around a dinner table, it is wonderful to watch the
interplay of the lady of the house with Americans visiting for the
"It was in one of these farmhouses where my children, Sharon and
Gary, were told they were Irish. When they objected and told the
farmer's wife they were born on Staten Island in New York, she
nicely asked, 'If the cat had kittens in the teapot, would you call
them tea leaves?'
"At the other end, a couple of nights in the luxury of Ashford
Castle and the grounds around it are as close to heaven as I am apt
to get; a couple of nights in the Sand House in Donegal give you
the solitude of miles of beach -- even in Irish climate.
"For my sins, I get to own a small Irish farm, which carries no
Brendan identification, near Galway. We, and a number of other
operators, bring our clients along for a working farm
"The farmer whistles up the dog, separates the sheep, shears the
sheep and explains the economics of Irish farming. It is such a joy
to watch people interact.
"You probably would be surprised at how many people do not know
where the wool in their woolen sweaters originates or the number of
young people who have no idea of how you get the milk out of a
"Compared with 20 years ago, Ireland today is wonderfully
prosperous, and that genuine fondness for Americans has in no way