The Magic of the Emerald Isle

By Carolyn Preul
Published Winter 2018-19 Affinity magazine

For Mendy Blades ’06, Ireland was a bucket-list destination. The historic towns and breathtaking scenery were calling her name, and it just so happened the Columbia College Alumni Association had the answer: a 10-day guided travel tour of the Emerald Isle.

“We were not sure what to expect with this tour as we had never traveled with a tour group before,” says Blades, a resident of the small town of Centralia, Missouri. “We were very pleasantly surprised (and got lucky) that all 40 people on the tour were amazing. Not one person complained about the hotel, seating on the bus, anything.”

The group included six Columbia College alumni — Blades, Osepha Felix ’14, Nancy Hays ’64, Virginia Itschner ’55, Leslie McKennon ’81 and Sharon Quigley ’64 — plus six of their family members and friends.

The tour was hosted by Collette, a global travel tour company. With the itinerary, hotels and transportation organized to the smallest details, travelers were free to explore the historic sights and rich culture with new friends. Highlights included the majestic Cliffs of Moher, Innisfallen Island in Killarney and city life in the capital, Dublin.

Felix, who lives in Deltona, Florida, jumped at the opportunity to explore a new land with fellow alumni like Blades. The friendships have continued back at home, sharing stories and photos through Facebook. Blades echoes her enthusiasm: “We began the tour ‘alone’ but left with 38 new friends.”

Closewise from top left: A Collette tour guide led the group through a fun-filled 10-day adventure; Mendy Blades ’06 and Virgina Itschner ’55 first met at the preview show in September 2017 and became close friends in Ireland; Osepha Felix ’14, Iris McKennon and Jodette Lenser enjoy lunch in Dublin; Osepha Felix takes in the beauty of Kilkenny Castle; Mendy Blades ’06 and Darcy Henry kissed the famous stone at the top of Blarney Castle, which is said to bestow the kisser with the gift of eloquence; the Cliffs of Moher