Post Travels: A Brief Visit to Ireland — Day 3: A Bit of a Diversion

Steve Slon attends a conference of travel writers in Ireland and does a little sightseeing, as well. See the entire series

In the morning, I host a panel with George Stone, editor-in-chief of National Geographic Traveler and Lorrie Lynch, executive editor of AARP’s website. The nominal subject is “Travel Writing — Past, Present and Future,” which gives us the leeway to talk about pretty much anything. Now, that’s my kind of panel discussion!

So, where is magazine publishing going? Well, obviously more and more online, the implications of which (how much writers get paid; what they have to do to sell a story; what publishers have to do to draw readers to their site) are of much more interest to those of us in the field than to the casual reader of magazines and consumer of web content, so I’ll spare you the details. It’s more of that “digital landscape” stuff, which does concern me immensely (though I studiously avoid using that term).

Okay, I see you’re not satisfied with my dancing around this subject. You want details? What I can say is that the Post is working on expanding its web offering to allow readers to peruse any of the 3000 magnificent  illustrated covers from the 20th century, including over 300 by our most famous cover illustrator, Norman Rockwell. This, and another big project to post every edition of the magazine in our archive dating to 1821. It’s not ready yet, but it’s going to be a really great gift to our subscribers. We’ll keep you posted.

In the afternoon, I have another series of sessions with individual writers, where I hear more terrific ideas. Among them, cities in North America with a foreign flavor (think: Miami and New Orleans, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg); “the last wild protein” (the ocean fisheries and what can be done to protect them); a personal history by a woman who adopted a six-year-old child of a drug addicted mother (see, I told you this wasn’t only about travel ideas), and several more good ones.

The minute my scheduled sessions end, I make a mad dash for the front desk, where a taxi is waiting to whisk me away to Mt. Juliet for a round of golf. Yes, I’ve been obsessing about it since the evening before, and now I’ve found a way to squeeze it in. I actually reach the pro shop around 4:30 and, playing alone, finish about 7:30.

The third hole of Mt Juliet. Vicious par three with water all the way down to — and surrounding — the green.

While playing, I get rained on three separate times, but the sun seems always to break out between the downpours. During the rainy parts, I remember the words of the cab driver, who had pointed out that “skin is waterproof.”  An extremely useful attitude in these parts.

It rained three times, but who cares when you get a scene like this?

Bonus: on the way there, I managed to stop and return that expensive wall-socket adapter I had purchased on day 1 of this trip.

If you want to know how I did on the golf course, I will answer by saying only this: I had a really good time.

What? You want to know more? Okay, look, this is the toughest course I’ve ever played. That’s the context, okay? So, after losing four balls on the first three holes, I decided to stop keeping score. From then on, I relaxed and enjoyed the game – even made a few good shots. It was awesome! And I only lost two more balls the rest of the way.

Steve Slon is the Editorial Director for The Saturday Evening Post. See the entire series

Post Travels: A Brief Visit to Ireland — Day 2: Being There

Steve Slon attends a conference of travel writers in Ireland and does a little sightseeing, as well. See the entire series

Ah, what a good night’s sleep does for you. Delicious Irish breakfast including the freshest eggs, the tastiest thick slabs of bacon, the richest butter and a hefty “Guinness” bread. Fortified for the day, I attend a few sessions at the conference where editors of various travel magazines talk about their strategies and travel writers take careful notes. (I’m going to leave out some details of this professional conference, but suffice to say, phrases like “digital landscape” are thrown about somewhat casually. I don’t suppose this kind of thing is of interest to people outside the world of publishing. But I do have to say that I lament the time when our business was simply about good writing.)

Sneak out in the rare bit of Irish sunshine for a walk around the grounds. Come across a beautiful pond.

A hidden pond on the grounds of Lyrath Hotel. 


Trees next to field
The smell of creosote mingled with the fragrance of blooming spring flowers on my morning walk. 

A walled garden at Lyrath Hotel. 

In the afternoon, a series of one-on-one sessions with travel writers. Each individual session is 10 minutes long. I imagine it’s kinda like speed dating. Exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. Writers usually come to the session with a few pre-planned story ideas. The best ones come from writers who’ve read the Post and are familiar with its style and subject matter. (I’ve let people know they can think outside the travel category if they have something good.)

Sure enough, I get some excellent story ideas. Regular readers of the Post may see some of these in the coming months. Highlights include: books to die for (that is, first editions and manuscripts of famous books like the Irish Book of Kells that people have died trying to save – or, in some cases, steal); the history of grain elevators in America (after falling into disuse, grain elevators have been rediscovered and repurposed as museums, hotels, recreation centers and more); the lasting impact of prohibition (2018 marks the 75th anniversary of the repeal); companies that are helping prisoners re-enter society; restored WW2 POW camps in the U.S. for captured German soldiers (it’s notable that German POWs were well treated by and large).

All this and several terrific suggestions for travel pieces about Ireland, of which I can only choose one!

I’m inspired. Head full of fresh story ideas for the Post. (Hmm, don’t know if I’ll have time to return that fancy adapter I bought yesterday).

Later that same evening, we were squired to the ultra-lux Mt. Juliet Estate for dinner. Driving onto the grounds, we were confronted with the stunning landscape of the famous Mt. Juliet golf course. A Jack Nicklaus course, it was the site of the Irish Open on three different occasions. Just beautiful.

As someone who has played golf indifferently for years, but has recently caught the golfing bug (which should possibly be classified as a terminal illness) I began to think about trying to finagle a round. But, about that, more later.

Our bus finally arrived at the end of the long driveway where we were greeted at the entrance to the grand manor by the hounds and huntsman.

The falconer with his Harris hawk at Mt. Juliet Estate

As the dogs obediently follow him off to their kennel, we had a demonstration of falconry in which the falconer incited his Harris hawk to fly down from a tree just over the head of a volunteer. (I had my hand up, but so did half the group, and I was not selected).

As the bird swooped down, the volunteer couldn’t help emitting a bit of a yelp, which was all very entertaining for the rest of us.

On to a delicious dinner, a possible surfeit of wine and then drinks at the bar. Our scheduled return to Lyrath House was at 9 pm. The buses didn’t load until 11:30.

Steve Slon is the Editorial Director for The Saturday Evening Post. See the entire series