Now it's been taken away, what does travel mean to us?
From authors to adventurers, chefs to teachers, frontline heroes to famous faces, Nicola Brady asked a range of Irish people about their favourite travel memories and plans for future trips.
Here are the memories they shared.
Caroline Hannigan, Doctor, Dublin
I'm a huge fan of the New Orleans Saints, the NFL team in Louisiana. My brother and I watch the games together every Sunday and we always talked (mostly jokingly) about going to New Orleans for a game. When I graduated from RCSI last year, my graduation present was none other than a trip to New Orleans to see my Saints in the flesh. Standing in that stadium, hearing the announcer introducing the players on to the field, looking at all the fans cheering, high-fiving my neighbours everytime we scored (we scored a lot that day) was a feeling like no other. It's an unusual time to be a doctor. I'm an intern, which means I'm in my first post-graduate year. It's a very tough, strenuous profession in normal times but in times of emergency… it's scary to be involved in the fight against Covid-19, but it's also a privilege.
Evelyn Cusack, Head of Forecasting at Met Éireann, Dublin
Last year, I camped out on the West Greenland ice sheet with some Met Éireann colleagues, the DMI and the FMI (Danish & Finnish Meteorological Institutes). We were on a 10-day private holiday which included kayaking among the icebergs and sailing beside a calving glacier. But camping was the highlight for me - our toilet was right on the ice sheet, and had the best view in world. And there was no problem trying to find it at night, as it never got dark! The last time I was this far north was in July 2003, which also happened to be during a heatwave. It registered 29°C when I walked across the Arctic Circle in northern Norway with my daughter Fleur.
Nuala Moore, Ice swimmer, Dingle, Co Kerry
I've been involved in a lot of extreme events over the years. I swam in a relay around Ireland, and I was the first Irish person to swim 1km at 0° inside the Arctic Circle. In 2013, I swam in a relay from Russia to America. It was an insane project. We'd only swim between 10-15 minutes at a time, but that's a lifetime in those waters. I wanted to quit every day. But that's the beauty of the extreme. When we were nearing Alaska, all of the swimmers got in the water and swam into shore with our flags. It was amazing getting my feet underneath me and touching American soil, holding my tricolour high, knowing the last time we had our feet under us, it was in Russia.
Sara Baume, Author, Skibbereen, Co Cork
Towards the end of 2019, I travelled to Tokyo to attend a festival of European literature. I had been longing to visit Japan for years but something went desperately wrong with my circadian rhythm and for four days and four nights, I did not sleep. Harrowing though it was, it made the trip somehow more special and extraordinary. I floated around the city as if in a strange dream; I became fixated on the urban topiary and made a series of small drawings. Tokyo will always remain in my memory as both wonderful and vaguely traumatic. As soon as I arrived home, I vowed to limit travel to a strict minimum in 2020, for my own sanity as much as for the planet.
'Handiwork', by Sara Baume, is out now
Dylan Walsh, Pharmacist, Dublin
Vis in Croatia is the most idyllic place I can imagine. The island is pretty much untouched by big tourism and is a truly authentic experience. From the moment you step off the ferry, you can feel yourself relax. Nobody is rushing, nobody is impatient and nobody seems stressed at all. There are very few sounds other than those of the nature that surrounds you, the birds singing and the gentle lapping of waves. The current situation, as most people would agree, is very strange, surreal even. As a pharmacist working on the frontline, I can honestly say it's been challenging. I count myself lucky when I look at others in healthcare. They are the real heroes, the doctors, nurses and other staff in our hospitals who are facing it head on.
Pól Ó Conghaile, Travel Editor, Co Wicklow
'What's your favourite place?' That's the question I'm asked most often. People assume I'll reach for a big, eff-off answer. And it's true - as a travel writer, I've certainly got tales to tell, from getting lost on the Moscow metro to riding in Al Capone's car in Arkansas. But now, unable to travel, confined to within 2km of my home, I find my wanderlust distilling down to my favourite destination: Ireland. I've been thinking about a family trip to Beara last year; to the Great Blasket the year before that. Every year, I try to visit somewhere on this island I haven't been to yet, and in 2020, I was zeroing in on trips to Clare Island and Inis Meáin. Those plans are on hold, but when we're free to explore again, I'm starting right here.
Louise Mathers, Newforge House, Co Armagh
Last year, we took a self-drive family safari to Kruger Park, South Africa. We rented houses in two different nature reserves where wildlife, such as zebra, impala and nyala, were free to roam. John would be cooking on a braai (BBQ), the kids would be splashing around in the plunge pool, and a warthog would wander to the watering hole in between us all. On our last day, we were thrilled to have giraffe visit within a few metres of our outdoor dining table. It's not often that the whole family equally enjoy experiences. But the four of us were united in our love of spotting and watching animals in their natural environment.
Mark Geary, Musician, Kildare
Honestly, in the past 15 years I haven't really gone anywhere that hasn't been work-related. But Italy always stands out for me - I've played over 100 shows there in less than two years. I once played in a courtyard in a place called Capua, a little medieval town. Then the next day I went to Napoli, and queued for an hour and a half to have the most incredible pizza - I thought I'd had pizza before, until I went there. Each little town has their famous food, and everyone is a foodie. That's extraordinary to me. I've tried not to think about going back. I'd planned to spend April in Italy, touring the whole country. We just don't know.
Aoife O'Sullivan, Teacher, Dublin
One of my most favourite trips to date has to be my trip to New York last summer. When I arrived I was so blown away by the incredible buzz of the city. The list of things to do there is endless - it's safe to say I was in my element. One morning, we watched the sun rise after a night out sitting at Domino Park in Brooklyn. The weather was magnificent and we were people watching while taking in the incredible views of Manhattan. Everything about it just lit up my soul. It felt exhilarating to finally be in New York.
Catherine Dundon, Dunbrody House, Co Wexford
Our trip to Japan for the Rugby World Cup last year has to rank as the top trip. Everything was packed in, from the high-tech bullet train to the slow pace of the UNESCO heritage Kumano Kodo. The food, the sights, the people were all so wildly different to our western lifestyle and we absolutely loved every minute of it. It really was an assault on all the senses. Our hotel has completely shut down now, and the hardest thing to adapt to is the complete lack of human face-to-face contact. Being in the hospitality business, you're not used to being alone so much. We're using the time to sand wooden floors, paint, garden and engage in lots of social media. It's a great way to stay connected to our guests both past and future.
Seáneen Sullivan, L. Mulligan Grocer, Dublin
In February I travelled overland from Ireland to Istanbul, by ferry, train and non-intentionally by bus, when my train broke down. The trip was incredible. I travelled through nine countries over five days. I had been worried about filling in the time, but the books I brought with me kept me occupied, even if I didn't relish lugging them around. Plenty of time was spent staring out the window at the changing landscape, too. Travelling slowly allowed me to appreciate small details I would have otherwise rushed past - the sight of market gardens on the outskirts of cities, the complex system of border and customs checks and the pure joy of a serendipitously-located coffee stand during a 10-minute connection. It was a completely different way of travelling.
Ciara Griffin, Irish Women's Rugby Captain, Castleisland, Co Kerry
Last year, my fiancé Damien and I took a trip to the west of Ireland - we went to the Aran Islands, Croagh Patrick and Achill. The sights were amazing, so peaceful, fresh and green. It was an active holiday, which we love. I loved cycling around Inis Mór and seeing all the sights while getting some exercise in, too. Our favourite part was cycling to Dún Aonghasa and getting to see the views of the water - it was literally like sitting on the edge of the country. I felt like I had no worries and was just focused on what was in front of me. I simply forgot about everything and took in the view.
Rachel Nolan, Rachel's Irish Adventures, Ballina, Co Mayo
Last year I spent five weeks cycling around Cuba with my partner, Iszy. With its stirring history, troubled present and vigorous mix of cultural influences, Cuba was a mind-blowing experience from the very first minute. We cycled along almost car-free smooth tarmac motorways, stunning eroded coastal paths and through endless fields of tobacco and sugar cane, and met some incredible people. In these difficult times, I feel myself brought back to many conversations I had with Cubans about socialism, the meaning of community and everyone's choice of having an open and free mind - despite it all. I feel now more than ever we need to stay open, connected and include everyone. We need to be one strong world community without barriers.
Dave Moore, TV and radio presenter, Dublin
For me, my favourite travel memory is of the six of us arriving to our Airbnb in Melbourne, back in March 2019. The city was stunning, the weather was sunny and warm and our house was so gorgeous and welcoming, with a playground right outside the front door. We knew we had a huge adventure ahead of us. Everything was so exciting. Starting a three-week adventure in Australia in such a beautiful, family-friendly spot really set us up. I loved even the simple task of walking around the corner to the local shops, buying what we needed for the day and walking back through the neighbourhood to what already felt like home. It was a mundane kind of moment but one that will stay with me forever.
Gavan Hennigan, Extreme endurance athlete, France
I live alone in Chamonix in the French Alps, where currently I've been in lockdown for over two weeks. I got back from Alaska the week before the lockdown - I was there to compete in the Iditarod Trail Invitational, a 350- mile Winter Ultra Marathon. I experienced complete and utter wilderness for six days, pulling my sled with all my supplies across frozen mountains and tundra. Despite the harsh environment and temperatures dropping to -40°C, I was buoyed up by the fact that I was in such a savage yet magical place. I had many wildlife encounters, including coming across a lynx that was eating the carcass of a bison. These are the sort of memories that I now cherish and will be ever more grateful to experience again when we come out the other side of Covid-19.
Neven Maguire, Chef, Blacklion, Co Cavan
If there's one place I love with all my heart, it's San Sebastian. I used to work there, but I've also been many times with Amelda and the twins. For food, it's one of the best places I've ever been in my life. The twins absolutely love it; it's very family friendly. Every restaurant has its own pintxos speciality - the twins and I both love slow cooked beef cheek, with a potato puree. It's only around €3. San Sebastian educated my twins a lot about food, and really introduced them to different flavours and textures. People talk about San Sebastian being all about the Michelin stars. But to me, it's about the pintxos and the simplicity of how they eat.
Nicola Brady, travel writer, Dublin
I've been lucky enough to travel to some incredible places. Some ridiculously incredible places, if I'm being honest. But when I really think about the moments that I've cherished the most, the strongest memories are those I've spent with the people that I love. A few years ago, I stayed in a farmhouse in Bergerac with some friends and their babies. We spent our days eating warm croissants from the village patisserie, cooking in our outdoor kitchen, and drinking ice-cold rosé by the pool. I loved every second. At the start of the year, we talked about doing it all again this summer. We might have to wait a while, but I won't stop dreaming about it in the meantime.
Paul Flynn, Chef, Dungarvan, Co Waterford
We took a campervan around New Zealand, maybe 15 years ago. It was the first time I'd ever been in a campervan, and the first time I'd ever driven anything bigger than a small car, so I was kind of terrified! The main thing for me was feeling a complete sense of freedom. We spent maybe 10 years building up our restaurant, working constantly, and it was the first decent break we'd had. We just loaded up the van and pulled in wherever we wanted to. It was beautiful and lovely and exotic, just the two of us cooking up simple dinners and camping by beaches. It was a really special time.
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