Irish Ancestors and History: An Irish Walking Holiday to Explore the Culture

Archaeological studies show that Ireland has been settled for over 9,000 years. The majority of Ireland’s recorded history shows that the Irish people have primarily been a Gaelic nation. In the 12th century, parts of Ireland were conquered by Anglo-Normans. And, in the 16th-17th century, England re-conquered and colonised Ireland, bringing several English as well as Lowland Scots to certain parts of the island.

The Irish are traced to major Biblical figures, according to a medieval Christian pseudo-Irish history. The record states that the earliest lineage of the Irish people entered Ireland through Iberia and Scythia. While other medieval texts spell out a notion that the people of Ireland are all descendants of Eber Donn believed to be an underworld god.

Notable Irish People

Throughout history, there have been a good number of prominent Irish people. For instance, Columbanus, the 6th century missionary and monk is seen as one of the “fathers of Europe”. Other notable Irish people are Vergilius of Salzburg and Kilian of Wurzburg. Also, the “father of chemistry”, Robert Boyle is a famous Irish man. That’s not all, famous explorers; Robert McClure, Tom Crean, and Ernest Shackleton are also Irish.

Ireland’s current population is around 6.3 million, but estimation shows that about 80 million people all over the world have Irish descent. According to history, emigration from Ireland is said to be the outcome of conflict, dearth, as well as economic issues. Irish descendants are mostly found in English-speaking countries, particularly the United States, Great Britain, Australia, and Canada. Also, a substantial number of Irish people are found in Mexico and Argentina. The largest number of Irish descendants are found in the United States.

Indeed, the ancestry and history of the Irish people is fascinating. Learn more about Irish ancestors and history by joining Women’s Own Adventure tour “Feel the Soul of Ireland on Foot”  A Walking Holiday to Explore Ireland.

Walk in the company of like-minded people through the soft rolling Wicklow Hills to the mountainous coastline. Catch a breathtaking view of the Cliffs of Moher, the amazing Wild Atlantic Way, and the studded islands off the stunning coastline. Women’s Own Adventure takes you on a guided adventurous walk through beautiful villages. Get to familiarize yourself with the Irish history and culture. The mere sound of traditional Irish folklore and music will connect you to this amazing land and its people.





What is your dream for 2013? – What will you do this year?

“Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.”  

― Gloria Steinem

This year I will:

  • fly more (with my paraglider)
  • fly more in a commercial aircraft, maybe upgrade from economy just once 
  • keep up my gym membership. I had great results late last year.
  • get really, really good at cycling (with my new pink bike) 
  • use my newly found cycling expertise to enjoy an overseas cycling trip, maybe even with my husband 
  • say WOW every day to something new (this was borrowed from my friend Joanne Fedler)
  • I will be a new grandmother (grandma? granny? nanna? nagy? nona? – just trying them on for size)
  • be more social and arrange / attend more events, just for fun!
  • nuture (i.e. water and possibly talk to) and expand my new veggie garden -tomatoes and lettuce today – tomorrow, beans and cauliflower!
  • and of course travel to new and exciting destinations! 

What will you do??

 – signing off from Marika at Women’s Own Adventure

Zanzibar, the last stop

Zanzibar was a spice trading port in days gone by. It is an interesting destination to spend a few days with the narrow winding streets of the old Stone Town. There are many shops filled with curios and books to while away the time. Sunset was best enjoyed on the terrace of The African restaurant, overlooking the ocean with palm trees swaying in the wind and traditional Dhow boats sailing by.

Every evening the market square is alive with the local food market where you can sample some local cuisine. We opted to have dinner at the Tower Restaurant, overlooking the entire town from its high vantage point. The evening was warm with a lovely sea breeze.

The final 2 days of our adventure in Tanzania with Womens Own Adventure was spent at a lovely small resort on the east coast of the island of Zanzibar. With time to swim, walk along the white sand beaches and snorkel among the coral, brightly coloured fish and giant stafish. Such a treat.
Alas, it is time to return home now, but there will be new adventures on the horizon.

– Marika at Women’s Own Adventure signing off

Location:Zanzibar, Tanzania

In the villages with the locals

After a magnificent safari experience it was time to move onto a cultural experience near Mt Kilimanjaro and beyond.

We met some of the amazing Ubiri women who have formed a co operative and work together in producing and packaging jams and conserves from local produce. The plum jam is delicious, though the banana beer is not for our palate.

From there we enjoyed walklng through the fields, village and markets. Some of our group from Womens Own Adventure accepted an invitation from our local female guide to sit in on a Pentacostal Church service. This was an experience all of its own with plenty of rhythm & soul in the clapping and singing from the colourful congregation of men, women and children.

Some of us tried to dress in style as well.

Then there were the children.

What an insight to a vastly different way of life. We are very privileged indeed to have this first hand experience. To walk amongst the small vegetable gardens and very basic village homes, to see how hard the women work each day, to wander through the bustling maket and learn the art of haggling, then to top it off with a local Kilimanjaro beer in the afternoon sunshine.

Our adventure is not over yet, there is more to come.

– Marika at Women’s Own Adventure signing off


Safari in Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater

Each day of our adventure in Tanzania has indeed kept getting better.
The savanna grasslands of the Serengeti with the lone Acacia tree is such an iconic image of this area, and now it is captured on my camera by the early morning light while on safari.
We have all captured some amazing images of African wildlife in the raw such as the leopard in the tree with his meal dangling from another branch. A meal that he has worked so hard for. Then the Cheeta with her cubs by the river, so close to us.

On our way to the Serengeti, we visited a local Masai village and had the pleasure of witnessing a traditional welcome dance by the village and had the opportunity of sitting inside one of their small huts to see just how these nomadic cow herders live. It is such a basic existence, surrounded by wildlife in the Ngorongoro Conservation region.

Some of the ladies on our trip decided to take an early morning balloon flight over the Serengeti, an experience i am sure they will never forget, witnessing the wildlife from just above tree top height, giving them a true birds eye view.

The last part of our wildlife safari was to descend into the Ngorongoro Crater. This is the most incredible ecosystem that nature has provided. It was once a volcano, which imploded on itself, resulting in a crater that has fresh water, open grassland, small forests and a salt lake. It captures the sun all day and supports a natural envrionment where the animals live and hunt. Being a small area we are able to view the wildlife activity in close proximity.
Yesterday we watched in amazement as a pride of lions arranged themselves, ready to stalk and hunt. They zebras were on watch and the buffalo had almost become a meal for the lions.

The sights we have seen are so amazing. The next part of our adventure takes us to the foot of Mt Kiliminjaro, where we will experience local culture in the villages and enjoy some wallking.

So there is more adventure to come for our Womens Own Adventure group in Tanzania.

– Marika at Women’s Own Adventure signing off


First Impressions of Africa

After a lifetime of desire, my first sighting of Africa was almost surreal. Here I am gazing at a family of wild hippos as they bathe before heaving themselves out of the water to sunbake on the shore. They are massive creatures, certainly a lot larger than I ever imagined.

It is now very late July 2012 and a group of adventurous women, travelling with Women’s Own Adventure, are on safari in Tanzania.

Breathing in the magnificence of our surroudings while looking down upon Lake Manyara National Park, the animals we have sighted on our very first day on safari is almost enough to say, let’s go home, we have seen them all. But going home is the last thing any of us want to do, as we are now addicted to the sights of Africa and just want more.

While driving in our safari vehicles towards the park, we observe dozens of statuesque Masaii men with their own herd of cows as they are taken to market. Dotted along the countryside are small Masaii villages, women
walklng with produce balanced on their heads or babies on their backs, small children in uniform running off to school and young teenage boys dressed in traditional black with the painted faces of boys who are on a journey to manhood. The colours of the people and their dress are stunning as a contrast to the subdued colours of the landscape.

Once inside the National Park, not only have we seen hippos, giraffes, wilderbeasts, zebras, elephants, warthogs, impala and a mirriad of birds but these creatures were all in the wild and very close to us, with the elephants parading in front of our vehicle. To top off the days sightings, we were privileged to sight a tree climbing lion, lazing upon a comfortable branch. This is a very rare sighting indeed and we have seen it on our first day on safari in Tanzania. I am wondering just how much better can it get?

– Marika at Women’s Own Adventure signing off


Always saving the best for last

Each walk on this Bulgarian Adventure was so different, interesting, beautiful and fun. We have progressed with our fitness over the past 2 weeks, culminating in the most exhilarating walk around the 7 Rila Lakes.

Riding a chair lift to the start of the walk we have passed by all 7 lakes, each at a higher level, with the last lake half frozen with glacial ice spilling slowly into it.

One final push to the top peak at over 2,500 metres rewarded us with a picnic lunch at the top and the most amazing 360 degree views over the entire mountain range and the lakes. It was a manificent walk and a great day.

Now back in Sofia on the last day of our adventure, alas, preparing to leave Bulgaria and one of the unknown corners of Europe.
However, on my last day in Sofia after the group have left, I simply could not resist a paraglide over from nearby Mt Visholo and gaining a birds eye view of the city from the air.

Adventure … That is what life is all about!
– Marika at Women’s Own Adventure signing off


Climbing mountains and dancing with Baba

As the girls on our trip say, we are “somewhere in Bulgaria”, and this is why ….

The names of towns and villages are not only hard to understand and difficult to say, but impossible to read!!

So where are we then ?

Ani (our ever optimistic guide) keeps telling us it is only a little up then a little down, so the track is really almost even and is only 1 more hour.

The lovely picnic lunches in green meadows helped sustain us.

Yesterday we climbed to an amazing vantage point of Mt Pirin, well above the tree line with icy cold lakes, patches of snow and views of the rugged mountain range. The climb, as always was worth it once at the top even though there were doubts on the way up.

The last few days had seen us create pottery, swim in a freezing river, enjoy a spa in mineral springs, have our sins forgiven at the magnificent Rila Monastry, walk through beautiful pine forests and dance with Babas (gorgeous grandmothers) in traditional dress.

Tomorrow we will trek high to the seven Rila Lakes.

– Marika at Women’s Own Adventure signing off


Our Bulgarian Walking Adventure

After a gruelling marathon in the air and at airports, I finally arrived into a sunny and 28 degrees realising that the travel to get here was worth it after all, even if just to get away from the wet and cold of Sydney.

Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria is a nice city with some beautiful buildings, not
too big and easy to get around. We are staying close to the centre, an easy wallk to the sights, shops and markets. Everything is very cheap here compared to our prices. The markets are wonderful, as most markets are, with beautiful fresh fruits and vegetables. the tomatoes are as big as oranges and smell so sweet. We are soon to discover that fresh tomatoes and cucumber with a ricotta stle cheese is the favoured first course at most meals. Bulgarian cheese is delicious and used in abundance. A beautiful creamy yoghurt is another daily favourite, especially at breakfast.

Once we left the city of Sofia, the beautiful countryside opened up with green
valleys, plains and the Balkan mountain range as an almost constant backdrop. So our walking adventure begins with 10 women including our
lovely and very competent local guide Ani.

The last few days we have walked through some of the most beautiful meadows covered with wildflowers, picked wild strawberries and feasted on cherry and blackberry trees. We have passed by walnut trees, plum trees, apple trees, wild herbs, all growing free. Oh, and the wild roses!!
The soil is just so fertile with an abundance of fruits and vegetables. Many people have a small plot and grow enough for their own family. We have stayed in a comfortable family guesthouse where glorious food was prepared for us each day and the wine was also plentiful.

Though walking uphills is not our favourite, the views at the top make it all worthwhile. Each elevated peak offers magnificent vistas of the mountains and valleys. We have passed by a herd of horses, across open fields, through shady forests, explored hidden Monastries and small villages.

There is still more to come.

– Marika at Women’s Own Adventure signing off


Joanne Fedler in Tuscany

I am excited to let you know that Joanne Fedler has arrived in Rome. She is facilitating our Writing and Walking Adventure in Tuscany with over 20 hours of writing tuition. A small group of 14 women are joining this trip to beautiful Tuscany and Cinque Terre.

Writing and walking are twin experiences. Both journeys must be undertaken step by step, sometimes through unknown territories.
You need no writing experience, no writing skills, and no fancy notebooks. No matter how good or bad you think you are at writing, you will surprise yourself as each day, in the exquisite setting of Tuscany and Cinque Terre, we use our bodies, our senses and our imaginations to converse with the landscape, the people, the tastes and the inspirations of our surroundings.

During this trip, author Joanne Fedler will be your facilitator as we explore the landscape of Tuscany through the writer’s eye. 

Joanne Fedler is the best selling author of Secret Mothers’ Business, Things Without A Name and When Hungry, Eat.
You will learn how to use writing as a tool for reflection, processing, contemplation and ‘emotional footage’. You’ll be introduced to some of the cornerstones of the writer’s way in the world: deep observation, use of metaphor, listening – to places and people, connecting to the landscape, and using the body and all its senses. Through writing, we harvest our experiences, and press them through the distillery of the heart. 

Joanne Fedler’s program will help bring alive this walking holiday with a difference through more than twenty hours of facilitation and writing instruction.

Tuscany is a land where the past lives alongside the present – its centuries-old traditions permeate daily life. Come to Tuscany and discover the hidden corners of an ancient land. Take in the essence of this enchanted landscape, from the harmony of its sun-soaked countryside to the gentle contours of its hill towns, to the warmth and wit of its people. Tuscany from the inside out … an insider’s experience that helps you take part in the true Tuscan way of life.
Find out more about this fabulous journey and view the detailed itinerary for September 2013 departure.