I don’t usually write reviews but feel compelled to do so to report the extraordinary service of Mike Ryan and his wonderful driver Alfie Earls on our recent trip to Ireland. On my first conversation with Mike, he told me that my family would be treated as his personal guests to Ireland and he would handle every detail. We started by developing an itinerary for our 14-day trip. I researched extensively (compulsively) to find the best sites, hotels, attractions, etc. that I thought my family would enjoy. Mike worked and reworked our schedule, adjusting hotels and travel repeatedly, ever mindful of our budget. He helped us determine which options would fit and which options wouldn‘t work. In spite of numerous requests and iterations, he never lost patience with me (although it was deserved) and our final schedule was ultimately set. This is when it gets complicated. Approximately one month prior to our trip, we learned the 2 of our group of 7 would need to return to the States only 3 days into our trip. I called Mike and he helped devise a plan on short notice to accommodate this issue. He set up a separate trip for our group of 2 starting a week before our original arrival date. The remaining 5 would rendezvous in Dublin and tour together for 3 days. This change in the schedule was done at very little additional cost, as he was able to get refunds from previously booked hotels. All was well and our group of 2 was having a fabulous time with Alfie who cared for them as if they were his own. This plan was great until the flight for the remaining 5 in our group was cancelled. We were not able to get to Dublin for an additional 48 hours, ruining our plans to spend time together. Again I called Mike and explained the situation. He promptly adjusted our schedule, extended our trip for an additional 2 days, provided a driver for an additional day and found hotel rooms for those days. He did so without any additional costs! When our luggage could not be located, Alfie worked for hours trying to track it down. Our last bag was delivered on Day 7 of our trip, long after American Airlines had abandoned interest in locating it. Alfie, not American Airlines, was able to locate the luggage and have it delivered. This trip could have been a disaster, but was salvaged by the flexibility and hard work of Mike and Alfie.
When we booked this trip, we expected a driver who would transport us from place to place, period. What we got in Alfie was so much more and hard to describe. Alfie made certain that we arrived at each destination safely. At sites of interest, he would somehow beat us to the ticket office to negotiate the best prices. He facilitated early check-in to hotel on one occasion and upon entrance, Alfie made the hotel staff aware of our arrival as if we were someone of importance. After check-in, Alfie would find us in the restaurant or pub to made certain we were safe and to make sure our accommodations were acceptable. He was extremely flexible while touring. We altered my meticulously planned schedule daily as new interests or opportunities arose. He made daily suggestions and always asked for permission to proceed. He worked tirelessly for us and never returned to the hotel until we asked to do so. On one occasion, a schedule conflict precluded us from attending both a sheepdog demonstration and a falconry experience. Alfie sensed the disappointment in my children and later called me aside. He arranged for a private falconry experience with Falconry Kerry on a Sunday morning, which turned out to be a highlight of our trip. Alfie arranged guides to the Gap of Dunloe tour, which made it a very special event. Patrick was not just the jaunting car driver but a local sheep farmer who lived his whole life in the Gap. The boat driver who conducted our tour was a fifth generation waterman and ecologist who spends his free time when not doing boat tours, you guessed it, in his boat, on the water. The local insight from these two made for an incredible experience and I can’t thank Alfie enough for arranging this excursion. At the end of our trip, I asked each family member to pick the single best part of the trip. We visited spectacular scenery on the Dingle peninsula, Slieve league and the Ring of Kerry, we explored ancient tombs at Newgrange and isolated ring forts, we climbed through medieval castles, drove hovercrafts, crossed the Carrick-a-Rede bridge, visited quaint towns and villages, stayed in luxurious castle accommodations, experienced traditional Irish music at the Cobblestone and numerous other activities. Without hesitation, each and every family member responded to that question with one simple word… ALFIE! In essence, Alfie WAS our trip to Ireland. He exemplifies the reason to travel. His kindness, quick wit, commitment to creating the best possible experience, tireless work ethic and most importantly his friendship will never be forgotten. I cried when we parted.
If you are looking for a high quality, infinitely flexible, worry-free trip to Ireland: your search has just ended. Contact Mike Ryan at Executive Hire and I am certain that within 15 seconds of your conversation you will know this to be true. Mike’s initial promise to me turns out not to be completely accurate. We were not just treated as his personal guests – we were treated like Royalty.