Attention: Mr Liam Flemming
Hope you are well and we met when I attended your wonderful Rhododendron festival in early June. I said I would come back to you with some feedback and apologise it has taken so long.
There is something special, even spiritual, mystical and magical about trekking mountain passes with a group of friends that you have never met before, for no good reason other than the pleasure of being there. This is the essence of a walking festival where all shades are represented – nominally sport but there are few competitors, save the challenge of the mountain among the chattering vocal chords and miles of mountain smiles. Nothing gets close to experiencing rural Ireland like a walking festival where the feel good factor keeps on getting better.
A hugely uplifting experience like this does not exactly happen by chance. There is an army of volunteers, linked to the unsung heroes of the local walking club to ensure that everything runs to plan. Over the past 10 years, I have been privileged to participate in many walking festivals in Ireland – predominantly east coast from the Antrim to Waterford. All festivals have their charm but this year I experienced something extraordinary – your Rhododendron Festival in Cloheen. South Tipperary must be one of the best kept secrets in Ireland for sheer beauty, tranquillity, heritage and culture. The view from the Knockmealdowns over the Golden Vale is breath taking from the Vee – magic enchants the air as you inhale the soft Rhododendron vista, against a backdrop of fields that produce the finest milk and dairy products in the world.
And that’s just for starters. Add in the warmth of the Cloheen welcome and people; the superb festival organisation with professional guides to ensure safety and information at all times in an easy supportive manner; the attention to detail with emergency telephone stickers and strategically placed refreshment stops along the way; the website that includes pictures and descriptions as well as ordinance survey maps so choosing a trail is a pleasant experience for all levels of fitness; the protestant church for lunch with flower arrangements, stained glass window, live music, real delph and cutlery, delicious food with five star service – the uplifting ambience and decor complete the show that cancels lunch for a full-blown banquet!
I could go on and please forgive me if you allow one small item for your suggestion box. You are doing so much right that you have much to protect. Food on the second day did not quite match the first. Double the price, keep your standards, it’s still cheap and your treasure will last forever!
Kind regards and thank you until we meet again next year.