Based in Mallow

Niamh Quinlan

It's Nice To Meet You

My name is Niamh Quinlan and I am your local personal Travel Counsellor. I have 27 years’ experience in the travel business and I am delighted to be part of Travel Counsellors where I continue to look after and tailor make holidays for my many loyal customers.

I have travelled extensively throughout the world and I am in the very fortunate position of having been on all 7 Continents!
Cruising, Long haul, Caribbean, Group Travel, Walking and Adventure Travel and tailor-made Sun Holidays would be my specialist fields. I have cruised worldwide and have travelled to Australia, South America, North America, Dubai, Far East, Mauritius, South Africa and Antarctica.

I have crossed the Arctic Circle on visits to Iceland, Lapland, Norway and Svalbard Islands with Hurtigruten. These Islands are 600km North of Norway. I have also enjoyed skiing and snow shoeing in Austria and the Pyrenees, hill walking in Europe including Camino Santiago in Northern Spain, Zell am See in Austria, Font Romeu in the Pyrenees, the Amalfi Coast in Italy, the GR31 Camino de Natural in Lanzarote and very recently post covid I have hiked in Iceland which is definitely one of my favourite places. I have also hiked on the island of South Georgia in the Southern Hemisphere and in Southern Argentina.

I regularly organise golf groups travelling to Portugal and Spain. In February 2022, I brought a group to Iceland where we experienced snowmobiles, ice caves, Blue Lagoon, Northern Lights Cruise, Sky Lagoon and much more. I am an Iceland expert and Travel Counsellors have an excellent DMC's that I use for these escorted tours.

The advantage of being a Travel Counsellor and working from home, means that I can work my hours to suit you, the client. I can visit you at home at a time that suits you (including weekends). I can provide you with a personal service that you will not get from a high street Travel Agent. I have access to the latest technology and the best rates with all of the leading tour operators, airlines, hotel suppliers, cruise companies and much more. We have Destination Management Companies in many countries which enables me to book your chosen Itinerary directly at source in that country.

I am also fully licensed and bonded with the Commission for Aviation Regulation in Ireland.
I will be happy to tailor make, source and quote you for your group or individual holiday. Please give me a call or drop me an email.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Kind regards,


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I absolutely live and breathe travel and I love to write about my experiences! Please take a look through my posts - you might find your own holiday inspiration.

Cruising with Silversea

17 August 2022

I was extremely lucky to be invited on behalf of Travel Counsellors to experience the cruise ship Silver Spirit for a 6-night itinerary, which is one of Silversea Cruises luxury 5 star ships. Silver Spirit is the largest of the fleet at the moment and can carry approximately 630 passengers. The great advantage with the smaller cruise ships is being able to do more in depth itineraries and getting to destinations that larger ships cannot get to. The other big plus in these Covid times for this cruise line is you must be fully vaccinated, do an antigen test within 48 hours of arrival, temperatures are checked every day and staff wore masks all the time. All this may change in time, but for the moment I found all this to be very reassuring that the cruise line was taking it all so seriously. Myself and my colleague were in a Veranda Suite with a spacious balcony. We had a large bedroom with a living area, a large bathroom (including a bath and shower), a walk-in wardrobe with plenty of hangers and a very large chest of drawers. There was beautiful linen on the beds and a bottle of champagne to greet us. We also had a mini fridge which our butler and his assistant stocked with whatever drinks we needed every day. Silverseas prices include full board at 8 restaurants (2 of them only have a supplement), all premium alcoholic drinks, soft drinks, bottled water and tea or coffee, all tours ashore at each port (one or two may include a supplement). They also have 24 hour room service with no extra charge. My favourite restaurant in the morning and for lunch was La Terrazza, buffet style and great seating inside and outside. The choice for breakfast was amazing especially the fruit selection and equally fantastic choice at lunch time as well. The salads were fantastic and there was plenty of hot food if that is your choice. I have to mention the Arts Cafe for early morning coffees and light snacks, that is open all day. The Atlantide Restaurant does A la Carte for breakfast and lunch. Of the 8 restaurants on board we managed to do dinner at La Terrazza, Atlantide, Hot Rocks (you cook your steak or fish on a hot rock in front of you, quite an experience), Spaccanapoli ( Italian) and Silver Note. All were equally as good. Our last night was in Silver Note and along with excellent food we had a fabulous singer from Cape Town who had us all up singing and dancing. There are also shows every night and we managed to get to two of them. Both equally excellent with song and dancing. There was an opera and classical night as well, unfortunately it clashed with our South African singer night. Next time.. Our itinerary was Greek Islands starting at Piraeus ( Athens) including Santorini, Katakolon on the mainland, Corfu and Chania on Crete, Montenegro and Dubrovnik. Our first stop was Santorini on a beautiful morning as we had our breakfast on La Terrazza with breath-taking views all around us. There is no port at Santorini so we were tendered in. Santorini is a wonderful island with a lot of steps and deep blue skies. We took the cable car to the top of Fira and walked to OIA and had lunch in one of the many restaurants overlooking the bay. Next stop was Chania in Crete. We berthed and took the shuttle bus in to Chania and just watched the world go by at the beautiful Venetian harbour. The following day we went to Katakolon where we did the beach trip. This is the port for Olympia and there was a tour to this if you wished to do it. Next stop was Corfu where we visited the beach and then spent some time around the old town. We had our breakfast on the Veranda in the morning as we sailed through the most stunning fjord to arrive at our destination in the beautiful resort of Kotor in Montenegro. Kotor was just magic and we were the only ship small enough to berth here. We took the tour to Budva in the morning and then explored Kotor in the afternoon. I did the 1350 step climb up to the ruins of the Old Monastery (not for the faint hearted), but fabulous view from the top. The next day we visited Dubrovnik as we ended our time on this beautiful ship with such fabulous food and the excellent staff who could not do enough for us. I have sailed on big ships and small ships but in all honesty I have to class this Cruise with Silversea as the best I have been on. I would highly recommend. They sail to so many different destinations and ports (about 900 worldwide). Definitely a bucket list trip or an anniversary of some kind or if you just want to treat yourself after the last couple of years and give yourself some luxury and most importantly just unpack once, then give me a call. Look forward to hearing from you, Niamh.


11 January 2020

I had the pleasure of being on one of the newest cruise ships, the Celebrity Edge on a fabulous 10-night itinerary around the Mediterranean from Rome back to Rome. I am a big fan of Celebrity cruises having done the Caribbean a few years ago on Millennium and then 2 years ago on Eclipse from Dublin to Iceland and the Shetlands back to Dublin, so I was really delighted to be able to experience EDGE in her maiden year. We started our trip pre-cruise with 2 nights in Rome staying at a hotel about 15 minutes’ walk from the Termini Train station, as we were taking the train from the Termini to the Port of Civitaveccia, (takes about an hour), on the morning of cruise departure, then a short bus ride to the port and our check in port side for EDGE. Check in was very quick and smooth (about 5 minutes) as we had uploaded our photos online along with all passport details prior to our departure from Ireland. This is what sets EDGE apart, in her approach to technology and innovation. We had booked an Infinite Veranda Stateroom, which the best way of describing is incorporating the balcony into the room. Full floor to ceiling window and at the press of a button the top half comes down halfway. Big Wide Screen TV which we did use as the Rugby World Cup was on whilst we were away. The cabin had good storage and a very useful USB port for charging phones, Tablet's etc. There is also an app you can download once onboard and that gives you everything that is happening on a day by day basis as well as this you still receive a daily new bulletin to your stateroom. Edge has changed the standard dining experience and instead of one massive Restaurant split over 2 floors, they had 4 different restaurants each with a theme and while they all had the same basic menu, they each had an additional different themed menu. This meant we had a great choice of dining for the 10 nights on the basic package. We only used the Buffet Restaurant once at night when we were late back from a trip. There are several Speciality Restaurants where you pay a supplement and we did try EDEN which was a very interesting experience. Acrobatic entertainment and a living wall with plants, 2 tasting menus of which we tried one each. The food was excellent and service second to none, in fact service all over the ship is just as excellent as the food was. We used the Buffet restaurant for breakfast and lunch every day and selection and choice was really good. We also had a wonderful waitress, Anushka from Mauritius in the buffet at breakfast, who also worked in the Cosmopolitan Restaurant at night. So, to the ship itself, facilities and entertainment on board, there is a beautiful pool area with 2 amazing Jacuzzis shaped like a martini glass spanning over 2 decks. There is also a walking/jogging track that merges outdoor over 2 decks and has a bit of an incline to give you a challenge, 2 laps of this track is the equivalent to 1KM and it was lovely first thing in the morning followed by a jacuzzi watching the sunrise. Also, the Spa Area and Swimming pool is fantastic and relaxing on a wet day to just read a book and listen to soothing music. The Rooftop Garden on top deck also has a cinema sized screen, bar and restaurant and another amazing feature on board is the Magic Carpet. The Magic Carpet is a very large open-air moveable deck on the side of the ship, with an open air bar/lounge, with very comfortable couches and armchairs. During the day it is on Deck 14 poolside, and at night transforms into a restaurant. Best of all is if you have to be tendered ashore, the Magic Carpet comes down to Deck 3 and acts as a tender platform making the process of transferring onto the boats a breeze. You can even have a drink at the bar while you are waiting. The theatre is spectacular and the shows on board are very high end. We had a Whitney Huston, Elton John and Beatles Mania tribute. The main cocktail bar in the central plaza area is stunning and every night about 10.30 there is a short Tom Cruise Cocktail show by the bar men which is fantastic. We also enjoyed the Silent Disco in the Central Plaza as well! One of my favourite areas was Al Bacio Cafe serving Speciality Coffee and Teas, French pastries and every type of chocolate delectable you can think of. Here you can just relax and watch the world go by. It is a very popular onboard the ship both day and night. The itinerary which included, Naples, Palma, Barcelona, Monaco, Tuscany region Florence/Pisa is great. Our longest day was at Naples where we visited Vesuvius and Pompeii. Barcelona was an overnight so that left us with plenty of time to explore. My advice would be pick maybe 2 tours on the trip that you really want to do, and then just get off and wander around the cities on the other days. We spoke to a few people who were trying to do everything and were exhausted with no time to enjoy the ship’s amazing facilities. To my mind EDGE is a destination in itself and needs to be enjoyed. You will not be disappointed, and I will definitely be going back. Her sister ship APEX is being launched in April and will be sailing in the Med this summer. I would highly recommend a voyage on the EDGE for a special birthday, anniversary or just treat yourself. If you are interested in learning more and booking this cruise ship or any other cruise, please contact me for more information.

Historical Malta

02 December 2018

I had last visited Malta 20 years ago when there was a direct flight from Cork, which was subsequently discontinued. The good news is that the flight has now been reinstated from Cork starting on 4 April 2019, twice a week for the summer season. I decided to pay a visit to see if it still had as much to offer, and I was not disappointed. I stayed in Sliema for 2 nights and our hotel Sliema Marina had wonderful views of the harbour and Valletta the old city. Sliema is very busy with tourists even in November but is a great spot for picking up tours to Mdina the old capital and silent city of Malta, shopping, harbour cruises and visiting Valetta. There is a wonderful promenade here that stretches all the way around to St Julian’s with spectacular sea views and a great walk. Valletta is one of the most well-preserved cities in Malta and extremely historical. Easily reached by ferry from Sliema in about 10 minutes. This fortified city of is one of the most stunning sites in the Mediterranean and worth repeat visits. Night time is particularly beautiful when lit up. Great restaurants and views from various parts of the city. It is extremely easy to get around Malta and there are buses everywhere. We travelled to Mellieha in the North of the island for 5 nights and stayed in the Maritim which was very central and had a fantastic roof top pool with views to the islands of Comino and Gozo. Day trips to these islands are easily accessible by local ferry from Cirkewwa which is about 10 minutes from Mellieha by bus. Whilst Malta is not renowned for beaches, probably the best one is in Mellieha with a lovely promenade and marked walks and trails around Paradise Bay, out as far as the Historical Red Tower. Stunning views across the Island. Also, only 3KM from Mellieha is Popeye Village, home of the famous cartoon. Some great restaurants in this area and some spectacular views during the day and at night when the islands are lit up. If you are looking for something different for either a 3 or 4 day city break or a mixture of city and sea, I would highly recommend Malta. If you are interested in booking a holiday or city break to this destination, please email me or give me a call.

Doha Educational Trip November 26 - 29 November 2017

20 February 2018

I was delighted to be offered a place on the recent Qatar Airways & Qatar Tourism Authority Ireland Familiarisation Trip to Doha. Qatar Airways had started flying from Dublin in May 2017 and I had used the airline for booking a number of long haul destinations. I was excited to fly with the airline myself and also to visit Doha to see what it had to offer. I was not disappointed with either the airline or Doha itself!!! I had the pleasure of flying Business Class from Dublin to Doha and economy on my return. I experienced excellent service in both cabins. If you have a long layover, I highly recommend spending time in the Business class Lounge at Doha Hamad International Airport. It is extremely spacious, and I can only describe it as similar to a deluxe 5* Hotel Lounge. It is available free of charge to Business Class and First-Class passengers, and for a fee to economy class passengers who fly with Qatar. Landing in Doha, we stayed as a group in the City Centre Rotana Hotel. Contemporary large bedrooms, large spacious lobby and 7 distinctive dining venues, with a range of cuisine. The Teatro Restaurant/Lounge serves fabulous Cocktails and Mocktails and has nightly entertainment. The hotel itself is attached to the City Centre Mall, perfect for shopping! We visited The Museum of Islamic Art which I would highly recommend from a cultural point of view, representing the full scope of Islamic art across three continents over 1400 years and from here the amazing views back to Doha Skyline. For some luxury we ate breakfast on the beach at Sharq Village Resort & Spa. A very traditional and relaxed hotel for both leisure and family holiday. Lunch was enjoyed at the Four Seasons, amazing food and again we dined on the beach. This hotel is excellent for family holiday and features the largest Nobu Restaurant in the World. Later, we visited Shangri La, Intercontinental and Movenpick Hotels. Followed by visits to the Katara Cultural Village, the Pearl (a manmade Island) and the obligatory Souq Waqif. Compared to other Souq’s I have visited, this is the most pleasant I have ever been in, I was able to happily browse the stalls and shops in peace. The highlight of our trip was the Desert Safari and a visit to the Inland Sea, a Unesco recognised natural reserve and the Regency Holiday Desert Camp. This was an amazing place where you can also have the option to stay overnight. This camp is also the perfect destination for a honeymoon. Here, I enjoyed a refreshing swim in the beautiful waters, followed by an excellent traditional lunch. Doha is a destination in its own right and in particular a lovely winter sun destination and excellent stopover city. I am already looking forward to the day I return. If you would like more information on this wonderful destination, or are thinking of booking a break to here, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Los Angeles

30 May 2016

I was recently invited by Aer Lingus and the Los Angeles Tourist Board on an Educational 4 day visit to LA. Aer Lingus were launching their new 4 times a week Dublin - Los Angeles Services. Having only stopped over for 1 night at an airport hotel in the past, I jumped at the chance to see what LA really has to offer, and I was pleasantly surprised. We flew Aer Lingus direct with customs and immigration at Dublin. This is mega time saving when you arrive to LA (or any Aer Lingus direct flight to the states from Ireland) as you just go straight to the domestic bag claim and out to your transfer. We were met by Haley from the tourist board and taken by private transfer to our hotel The Loews Hollywood which is just a two minute walk to Hollywood Boulevard for the Hollywood walk of fame and the Chinese Theatre. This hotel is also host to the Oscars and accommodates all the stars for the night. It’s a great hotel, in great location and had a room with a view to the Hollywood sign. After a couple of cocktails in the hotel bar and some snacks and nibbles, an early night was had by all, with an early start the next morning. Breakfast at the Loews was excellent with plenty of choice to suit every diet. We then had a tour of the hotel and were shown where the Oscars are held and also were all the stars arrive. Quite exciting really when you have watched the Oscars for many years. We then went to visit an art gallery called The Broad, which I found very interesting and very alternative. It is free to enter but there can be queues, however a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours. We had lunch at the Grand Central Market which had many stalls and a central eating area. Great food and choice. Asian food was predominant and very tasty. On then to the Grammy Studio and this was a real treat. If you are a music lover, this is the place to go. Later on we headed to Musso and Frank Restaurant on Hollywood Boulevard. This restaurant is a real throwback to the early days of Hollywood. It is nearly 100 years old and hasn’t changed in that time. Old world and beautiful wood panels with a wood bar, photos of the old stars such as Humphrey Bogart, Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Gary Cooper to name but a few. They still come here today. The menu has hardly changed since it opened. The next morning we visited the London Hotel in West Hollywood and had breakfast here which was excellent. Lovely hotel and a penthouse suite with views over all of Hollywood to die for. Onwards then to our fun day and Universal Studios. (Which is only on stop on subway from Hollywood Boulevard) Having never gone, I really had no idea what was in store for us. It really is a great day out. We did the Studio Tour which was excellent and the Harry Potter Ride which I was dreading but I loved it. We had dinner at WPBistro where they serve pizza and beer etc. It has a great buzz. Plenty of night bars and entertainment but bring your ID or you will not get in. On the last day, we had breakfast at the Farmer’s Market which has great restaurants, stalls and shopping. The highlight of our day was Malibu Wine Safari, this was great and there are a lot of rescue animals here including Stanley the Giraffe being a Hollywood star. Lunch and wine tasting in the Malibu hills overlooking the valley in lovely sunshine is highly recommended. Then on to Malibu beach for a drink at Paradise Cove and then Santa Monica Place for some shopping. Homeward bound with Aer Lingus and we got to experience Business Class, what a treat. Great food, service and very comfortable seats that stretch out to a fully flat bed. As this was an overnight flight, I arrived to Dublin very refreshed. A lovely few days and LA is definitely a destination in its own right, also a great 2 or 3 night stopover break. If you are interested in a city break to Los Angeles or you would like any more information please drop me a line. Niamh

In Search of the Northern Lights in Norway

28 October 2015

I escorted a group on the Hurtigruten MS Finnmarken Ship from Tromso on the Norwegian Fjords as far North as Kirkenes at the top of Norway in search of the Northern Lights. I had always wanted to travel here and when I had a group enquiry I thought what an opportunity to do this. 15 of us departed Dublin to Tromso Gateway to the Arctic and transferred to the ship and set sail North with our first stop at Honningsvag and a visit to the North Cape. This was an incredible most Northern point in Europe and at 70 degrees north only 2000KM from the North Pole. A wild and wonderful place. Back to the ship and we had just sat down to a wonderful dinner when the intercom announced the Northern Lights on view out on deck. I have never seen such a mass exodus from a dining room and well worth the rush. We had spectacular views of the lights. On route to our furthest destination Kirkenes, we had many stops in little villages that are only accessible by ship. Hurtigruten provide a postal service, a delivery service, ferry service and a lifeline to these little villages that only see the ships about every 14 days. Whilst the ship is loading and unloading you can get off and walk around. In most of these little villages the stops last about 30 minutes during the day and night. Kirkenes is a bigger town and so we had much more time here, and where we visited the Snow Hotel which has 24 bedrooms to rent for a night (which is more than enough given the cold). We were able to visit all the rooms and each one had its own individual theme and ice sculptures. Truly a unique experience. We had a drink in the Ice Bar which of course was built from ice and fortunately for us a meal in the warm restaurant which I would highly recommend. You can also do snowmobiling or dog sledging here. We departed Kirkenes and headed back down South towards Tromso, via Vardo where we had the opportunity to jump into the ice cold sea (fantastic experience and not as cold as you might think) and then onto Hammerfest where we did a polar hike in the steps of Amundsen, the Great Norwegian Explorer. This was a great trip where we dressed up in the polar gear of the early explorers, hiked about 200 metres to Mount Salen and then back down the mountain to our tented camp for a typical Explorer lunch which was definitely a little different. Arriving back into Tromso very late we finished off our trip with a midnight concert at the Arctic Cathedral which is definitely a must do. The acoustics were incredible and the music and singing very moving. We had 3 nights on-board the ship and one night in Tromso at the Radisson Blu Hotel. We saw the Northern Lights every night on board the ship. The standard of food was excellent and great choice at breakfast and dinner. There was a small outdoor, heated swimming pool and 2 Jacuzzis which you should try out as you sail into port at 6.00am in the morning. There was a great choice of excursions to do in various ports and quite a few lectures on board each day on the different places we were travelling to. If you or any of your friends are interested in this fascinating trip or feel like something similar please do not hesitate to contact me.

Dubai 5* Visit

09 October 2013

I was very lucky to be invited on a fabulous trip to Dubai in Business Class with Emirates Airlines. The only way I can explain this is:- When you are on a long haul flight in economy you cannot wait for the flight to be over but when you are Business Class with Emirates you don’t want the flight to end! We stayed the first 2 nights at the newly opened 5* Sofitel the Palm on Palm Island, a beautiful hotel. It is on the beach and has a very relaxed sort of “back to nature” feel about it with beautiful earthy colours and a real sense of Indonesia about it. There was a fantastic selection of food at the Buffet Breakfast and dinner was excellent too. We visited the Atlantis the Palm Hotel for lunch and it is just a most amazing hotel. It is on Palm Island and is really suitable for families as there is so much to do from visiting the Aquarium which is part of the hotel, to shopping, to the Atlantis Aqua Adventure Park on its own beach. Access to The Park and Aquarium is free to guests of the hotel. Needless to say we all became children for the day trying out the various water rides etc. We visited many hotels in Dubai to experience what is available and had the pleasure too of stopping in the Dubai Mall. We experienced “KidZania” which is a miniature city for children where they are in charge. We went to Sega Republic with various rides, visited the Underwater Zoo, Dubai Aquarium and Dubai Ice Rink. This is all under one roof in the Mall. Of course we also managed some shopping and despite what people think there are some very reasonably priced shops here along with the designer brands! One of the highlights of the trip for me was Afternoon Tea with Champagne in At.Mosphere situated on the 122nd floor of the Burj Khalifa Tower which is the tallest building in the world. What an experience and definitely a must on any trip to Dubai. Another highlight was to the Desert for a 4 wheel drive Desert Safari and a BBQ. This was a great evening out in the Sand Dunes with our driver treating us to some pretty hair-raising driving. After all that excitement we went to the Bedouin Camp for an excellent BBQ and if you we wished to avail of it, some Sand Boarding. If you are interested in travelling to Dubai and/or flying with Emirates airlines please drop me an email or give me a call. Niamh

Dubai & Phuket

19 October 2012

We started our journey at Dublin airport and flew to Abu Dhabi with Etihad Airways. When we came out of the airport we walked straight into welcome heat and onto the free Ethiad bus to Dubai. This drops you at the Dubai Marina Mall and journey takes about an hour. Our home for the next 48 hours was the 4*Marina View Apartments which as it turned out was only 3 minutes walk from the Mall. And so began our whirlwind self guided tour of Dubai. The metro was only a 5 minute walk away and circulates most of Dubai. There are only 2 lines so very easy and cheap to use. As it is above ground you get to see all the sights. We kicked off with the Khalifa Tower downtown now the tallest building in the world. Zoomed to the top in under a minute and had fantastic views of the whole area. We then visited the Dubai Shopping Mall with its own aquarium, The Dancing Fountains, the Gold and Spick Souk, Dubai Creek, Palm Island & the Atlantis Hotel. At night we went to Souk Madinat in the Marina area and ate first night at a fabulous Lebanese Resaurant and second night at the Hotel Al Quasir. The food was fantastic in both places. All too soon our time was over and we headed back to Abu Dhabi for our onward Ethiad code share direct flight with Air Berlin to Phuket. This is such an easy way to get to Thailand. On arrival our first 3 nights were spent in Kathu which is midway between Phuket town and Patong. This is a little off the tourist trail and a very local area but very accessible. The Phuket Golf Course is also here. We did most of our sightseeing by car and in turn visited & saw so much of Southern Phuket, from Surin Beach to Karon Beach to Patong Beach. We went to the very Southern tip called Promthep Cape (fantastic sea views), back to Chalong Bay and Rawai. We visited Big Buddha and various local temples. At night we ate locally and had excellent good value meals. We went one night to the Phuket Fantasea Cabaret Show which is the story of Siam the old name for Thailand (think The King & I). We also went for massages and spa treatments and just could not get over the value. Our next 3 nights were spent at Khao Lak which is in Southern Thailand about 40 KM from Phuket airport. We stayed in the Kantary Beach Villas which are on the most beautiful beach about 3 km long. This was pure paradise. We lolled on the beach, ate lunch and dinner at beautiful beach restaurants with fantastic Thai food and again great value. We did manage to tear ourselves away one night and visit the local night market which was really interesting and a throwback to the sixties. Our last 5 nights were spent back on Phuket at the 5* Village on Coconut Island which is on the East Coast of Phuket. This was a fantastic resort with amazing views down Phang Na Bay. Our 2 bed villa with pool was just beautiful. Bernie the manager and all the staff at Coconut were brilliant and made us so welcome. Access to the island was by boat from Laem Hin Pier 24 hours a day ( 5 minute trip). We ate most nights at The Village on Coconut as the food was excellent and very good value. Also availed of the nightly 2 hour long Happy hour most evenings and met quite a few ex pat locals. It was very easy to get into the swing of island life here. We did do 2 boat trips from Coconut. One was to Phi Phi Islands which although beautiful were extremely busy on a day trip. The other was a kayaking trip to the Limestone Outcrops of Phang na Bay including the “James Bond Island”. This trip also included a visit with lunch to a floating Gypsy Village. This was definitely a winner and can be booked at reception. We also went one night to one of 3 floating restaurants nearby and had a fantastic meal with the locals. You could if you wanted rent a fishing rod and catch your own dinner and they would cook it for you. This was definitely a holiday of a lifetime. If you would like to know more please do not hesitate to contact me. Niamh.

Brussels & Leuven Fam Visit

20 September 2012

I was recently invited by Aer Lingus and the Brussels Tourist Board on an Educational 2 day visit to Belgium. Aer Lingus were launching their new 3 times a week Cork Brussels departure with flights on Monday's Wednesday's and Friday's. Having never been tempted to go to Brussels because I always associated it with politics and not really as tourist destination I jumped at the chance to see if the trip would change my opinion and so it certainly did! We arrived a group of 10 Cork Travel Agents on a bright cold but sunny morning and were met by the lovely Lisa from the Tourist Board and took the train from the airport to city centre. A journey of about 20 minutes, left the station and walked 5 minutes to our hotel which was the Sheraton Brussels. The easiest transfer ever. Check in was extremely efficient and we were ready to leave the hotel for our walking tour within 45 minutes of arrival. Lisa wanted to show us the non political side of Brusells so we were brought on a nibbling tour through Brussels. A sightseeing and culinary walk with local specialties (escargots being one) on route which took in all the city highlights like the Grand Palace, the Mannekin Piss ( the peeing boy of Brussels you will have to go to find out more) old churches too numerous to mention and of course the bars. There were many chocolate shops where we had a demonstration in chocolate making which was fantastic. In between sights and tasting's Lisa treated us to the most amusing stories and historical anecdotes in the centre of Brussels. Naturally we finished in a bar and the choice of beers was amazing. There are menus and the choice is incredible. Not being much of a beer drinker I was converted. We dined at the Belga Queen on Rue Fosse aux Loups that night and what a fantastic restaurant you would go there for the décor alone, I will say no more. There is great night life which I declined but reliable assured by others that they had a great night. Next morning we were being brought by train to Leuven for an overnight stay. This is a University City and I just fell in love with it. It is about 25 minutes from Brussels by train and again our hotel The Binnenhof was about 10 minutes walk from the station. It is just so easy to get around. Our highlight for the day was a cycling tour of this city and it was brilliant. I am used to cycling but some were not and we had great fun getting started. The bikes had been brought to the hotel for us and off we went. Our first stop was a tour of the Domus Brewery and then lunch at the brewery, a great way to start a cycling tour. We then had a 2 hour cycling tour which I highly recommend as it was a great way to see the city and there are cycling lanes everywhere. Sights we visited included the Town Hall, St Peter's Church with Treasury and painting of Dirk Bouts (a Flemish Primitive), The Great Beguinage and Leuven University buildings and Library. We visited all the main shopping streets, the park and saw far more than if we had been on a bus tour. We had to drop the bikes back to the main train station and I have never seen so many bikes in all my life. There is a bike parking lot at the station as thousands from Leuven work in Brussels and cycle to the train station in the morning. Everyone has a numbered parking space and it is just incredible to witness. That night we dined at the Restaurant Tres on Munstraat 20 in the centre of Leuven next to the Great Market Square which is a hive of student pubs and restaurants. After an excellent meal we sampled the pubs and what a buzz in a city on a Tuesday night. Up early next morning to take the train from Leuven back to Brussels airport for our flight back to Cork. The journey time took about 50 minutes with one change at De Panne. The train system is fantastic and so easy to get to the rest of Europe from here. I will definitely be back and next time will visit Brugges. If you would like to book a city break to Brussels or any other city then please drop me a line. Niamh


15 July 2011

I have been to Iceland a few times and know it quite well and have always loved the wildness and beauty of the place, so when a few friends asked me to organise a long weekend to Reykjavik and plan activities for them it was no hardship. Of course this all happened and was booked just before the infamous Volcano Eyjafjallajökull erupted causing chaos all over Europe which really added to the excitement of going. There were 15 of us in the end and we set off from Dublin with great anticipation on one of the charter flights that operate about three times a year for 4 nights. The International airport is beside the now famous Blue Lagoon so on arrival we all headed straight to this amazing hot blue lake in the middle of volcanic rock for a swim and a cocktail whilst we soaked the hot water. We then went in search of the Northern Lights but on this night they were nowhere to be seen. Onto our hotel the 4* Loftleider which is about 20 minutes walk from Reykjavik and an early night for some as we were on a full day tour the following morning. The day dawned bright but cold and we headed off to do the Golden Circle tour which is absolutely a must do and gives you a fantastic sense of Iceland. We started out with a visit to the magnificent Gullfoss Waterfall one of the most impressive waterfalls in all of Europe. The sound and the power of the water was just incredible. We then headed to the Great Geysir area to see the magnificent Geysir Strokkur spout about every 10 minutes up to 30 metres in the air. You could stay here all day watching this and the bubbling hot water in the ground . We headed then to Pingvellir which is an amazing geological site and the most historic site on the island. This is now a national park located by Lake Pingvallavtn. There is a beautiful canyon running through the park which is the meeting point of two of the earth's tectonic plates. This area is also a very historical as it is the site of the world's oldest parliament founded in 930. The sense of history is everywhere. An incredible day. Back to our hotel for dinner and all of a sudden some one came running into the dining room to say the Northern Lights were visible at the back of hotel. You never saw such a mass exodus. Finally we got to see the lights which were like a green sweeping wave floating in the sky. Next morning 6 of us headed off early with a guide to do a "Walk Through Ice & Fire Tour". We had been warned to bring towels and swimsuits even though there was frost and temperature was about 2 degrees. This for me was the absolute highlight. We hiked into a Valley located at the foot of an old Volacnic Cone passing a series of boiling mud craters on route and finally arrived down to a small river which was hot. We changed and sat in the hot river chatting for about an hour. Finally our guide made us get out and we hiked back up the valley and into a jeep to take us to the Myrdalsjokull glacier which is beside the Eyjafjallajökull Volcano (which still would not oblige by erupting just an odd puff of smoke). Here we put on crampons and took ice axes and set out to discover a wonderland of ice scupltures, ridges and deep crevasses with the odd ice cave thrown in. It was a fantastic experience and I would recommend this day trip to anyone. You don't need to be an experienced climber just reasonably fit. We were exhilerated but tired by the time we got back and then headed to the Perlan Restaurant which is about 5 minutes walk from the hotel. This is a revolving Restaurant on top of 4 water towers set on top of Perlan Hill so there are just incredible views of the city as you eat. It was buffet night here and the choice of fish, meat and foul was amazing. An absolute must to visit. On then to sample some of the night life and meet the locals and sample some of the local beer. What a weekend we all want to go back. If you are interested in this trip please contact me. Niamh

Malaga City Break

12 October 2010

I was recently invited by the Spanish Tourist Board on an educational weekend city break to Malaga. Most of us get to Malaga airport turn right and head straight to either the Costa or Marbella and completely neglect this wonderful city. Major sights such as the Roman theatre and the Gibralfaro Castle hark back to the times of the Romans and the Moors, respectively. Malaga is also replete with religious monuments and churches, foremost of which is the La Manquita, Malaga’s cathedral. Malaga is not called the “city of museums” for nothing; it has over 20 museums, 15 of which are grouped together in the same vicinity. Feast your eyes on a wide array of options from contemporary art to religious art, historical artifacts and, of course, Pablo Picasso’s works housed in the Pablo Picasso Birthplace Museum and the Picasso Museum of Malaga. Malaga houses some of the most beautiful I have ever seen along with breathtaking parks and gardens. This wealth of botanical heritage offers you a trip to paradise – lush gardens featuring a diverse range of botanical species and coupled with historical sculptures and buildings. The major attractions when it comes to Malaga’s gardens are the La Concepcion Gardens, the El Retiro estate and the Malaga Park. All of these and more from another fascinating facet of Malaga, one that is best enjoyed by leisurely walks on warm sunny days, La Concpecion. We visited La Concpecion as it was only a 10 minute bus ride from the city centre. It is a beautiful spot and if anyone was thinking of having a wedding in Spain this would the ultimate venue. You will find many beach cafes (chiringuitos), restaurants and tapas bars along the esplanades. You will find food havens featuring great traditional Malaga cuisine. Be sure to try the pescaito frito, an assortment of fried fish such as red mullet and sardines (delicious). Bodegas, which are pubs or wine bars that serve local Malaga wine directly from the barrel, and the atmosphere in these areas is just fantastic. I would highly recommend lunch at Bodegas El Pimpi, great value and great food. Party! Malagueños really know how. The party scene comes into full swing around midnight and continues right up until the break of dawn. You can easily get caught up in the fever and dance the night away in Malaga’s modern disco and night club scene. We had a drink in a bar situated on the Plaza directly in front of the Cathedral and there was a fabulous atmosphere and experience. Then of course there is the shopping with the famed Cortes Del Ingles department store, the Mercado Atarazanas market in the heart of the city, the wide pedestrianised shopping streets and plaza's, all within a 20 minute walk of each other. Malaga is also becoming an important base for cruise ships and there is excellent value to be found in the hotels here. We stayed in the MS Maestranza a very nice 4* hotel with excellent breakfast. The hotel is in a fantastic location as it is only 5 minutes walk to the beach and promenade. We didn't take a taxi for the whole weekend! A great way to see the city is on a guided bike tour. As the city is very flat it is no hardship and a very pleasant way to spend a few hours. The Spanish tourist board is promoting Malaga as a city break in its own right and compared to Barcelona it is great value, very easy to get around, the people are lovely and it feels so safe. They are continuously developing the city and in January 2011 they will be opening a Cultural Theme Park called Art Natura Malaga museum which promises to be a major attraction for young and old alike. Malaga is well served from Ireland with daily flights from Cork & Dublin and as a winter, spring, or autumn city break I would highly recommend it. I will definitely go back, if you would like any further details please drop me a line. Niamh

Sydney Christmas/New Year

23 November 2009

I decided to go to Australia for Christmas to visit my son, who like thousands of other Irish, had gone to Sydney to find work and explore the country for a year. On previous visits I had been to Queensland and stayed in Cairns, Port Douglas and the Rainforest, had visited Hamilton Island and stayed in the Coral Reef Hotel and then onto Brisbane and the islands offshore, The Gold Coast and finally to Sydney. This being my third visit down under I had no hesitation in staying put in Sydney for the two weeks as I was on limited time and wanted to enjoy this amazing city and harbour. I stayed the first 4 few nights at Bondi Beach in the Swiss Grand Resort and Spa Hotel overlooking the famous Bondi Beach. This is an all suite hotel so you have a separate bedroom and living area which comprises a pullout sofa bed with a TV in both rooms. It is deal for families and has a great bus service outside the door into the centre of Sydney. Bondi of course is also a great beach and the infamous surfers who seem to be there permanently. There is a lovely coastal walk here offering visitors to Sydney an opportunity to join in and do what the locals do. The Bondi to Coogee Walk is a popular coastal walk offering beautiful coastline vistas, cosy beaches and cafe strips for refuelling. It is 6kms long and takes about 2 hours to complete at a good pace, but break that with a freshly squeezed juice or a relaxed coffee and you could take all day - finishing with a relaxed swim at Coogee Beach. There is a very interesting cemetery half way along the cliff full of Irish names that gives you a real sense of belonging. I was very fortunate to be offered an apartment in Coogee and moved there after a few days. Coogee is a smaller version of Bondi and again has fantastic beach with gas barbeques freely available to the public. Do what the locals do and go to the beach and bring your own food and cook it. Coogee too has very easy access to Central Sydney and various coastal walks. Most days I walked or swam in the morning and then headed into Sydney in the afternoon. I visited Darling Harbour which was very festive for the time of year. There is so much to see in the Harbour and it has numerous Bars and Restaurants.. The Aquarium is fantastic and you can spend a good two hours in here. Take time too to visit the children's park and Naval Museum and here you can walk to Paddy's Market and Chinatown where there are great restaurants. Visit the Opera House and on Christmas Eve you can go to the free “Carols in Hyde Park” concert. When I was there Delta Goodrem was singing along with Brian McFadden, a great event for children. Christmas in the sun was definitely a first for me and it was strange looking at all the Santa hats on the beach! We had our Turkey dinner in the garden and sat outside until midnight in shorts and t-shirts. St. Stephen’s day or Boxing Day as it is known in Sydney is a family day at the beach and also the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht race. We watched it all from the beach in Coogee. Over the next few days we drove to some of the Northern Beaches such as Manley and Palm Beach where Home & Away is filmed. We also drove to the town of Newcastle which is about 2 hours North of Sydney and has the best beaches I have ever seen in a town with spectacular waves and great for “boogie boarding”. Needless to say I also took advantage of all the fantastic sales that were on in the city centre. The highlight of the trip had to be New Year's Eve. You have to get there early so we went down to the Harbour mid afternoon and got our spot on an embankment looking onto the Sydney Harbour Bridge from the north side. Families were everywhere and people bring their BBQ's, card and board games and everyone spends the day here waiting for the fireworks. It was so worth the wait, I have never seen a fireworks display like it and the camaraderie and the people we met will stay with me for a long time. Sydney is definitely a must for families, single and couples alike. If you would like to know more about my experience and getting there at the best price please contact me. Niamh


22 November 2009

This was to be my journey of a lifetime, my 50th birthday present to myself! I had always wanted to go to Antarctica and had finally taken the plunge to go with a group of like minded Irish people. We departed Dublin for Buenos Aires on 5th November via Milan and arrived the following morning and straight out on a sight seeing tour. What a marvellous city, very European, wide boulevards and home of that wonderful dance - the Tango. We visited la Bocca which is such a colourful place with Tango Dancers every where. Recoletta (the Cemetery where you will find the grave of Eva Peron), wandered the wide streets and finished up the day with a good steak and onto a local tango club. The following morning we were up early and on our way back to the Airport for our flight to Ushuaia and an overnight before we boarded our ship The Ushuaia which was to be our home for the next 20 days. We departed down the Beagle Channel with a back drop of mountains behind us. It was a spectacular way to start a holiday and it just got better and better after that. The theme of our trip was "To Follow in the Footsteps of Ernest Shackleton and Tom Crean" two of the polar explorers in the early 19th Century. After 2 days crossing the Drake Passage, our first port of call was the Island of South Georgia in the South Sandwich Islands and what an experience it was! We spent 4 days sailing around this amazing island with its fantastic glaciers, icebergs, mountains and incredible wild life. Colonies of King Penguins, Elephant Seals, Fur Seals and my favourite of all the Wandering Albatross. We visited the only inhabited part of the Island, Grytviken where we were able to buy souvenirs and postcards. There is a Church and Museum here and the grave of Ernest Shackelton who is buried here. Our next port of call was Signy Island in the South Orkney Islands where we visited the British Antarctica Research Station before moving on to one of the major highlights of the trip, Elephant Island. This is a rocky outcrop with very little beach and so remote. We were extremely lucky in that our fantastic crew managed to land us here despite the heavy seas. It is an amazing and historical place in the story of Polar Exploration. From here it was onto The Antarctic Peninsula itself and more landings. Our first stop was the Argentinean Base named after an Irish man called Bernard O'Higgins from Sligo. It was a cold bright sunny morning and we were surrounded by the most fantastic icebergs, blue water and white land masses. We were all landed here for a visit on the zodiacs, for me it was especially exiting to land as it meant I had finally landed on all 7 Continents. We then headed on down the peninsula and landed at Port Lockroy another British base and came across more penguin colonies and some amazing scenery. We also witnessed ice berg's calving which is a spectacular site. We then headed down the Lemaire Channel passing the most amazing glaciers and icebergs in all shapes and size. We had to turn back at the end of the Channel as this is as far as you can go at this time of the year. We sailed back up as far as Paradise harbour where we went ashore at Admiral Brown station, and were then brought on a tour of some of the most amazing icebergs I have ever seen. In our zodiac we were able to reach out and touch them. Some were deep blue in colour which reflected how old they were. There were walls of ice and snow as high as mountains all around, exactly what I imagined The Antarctic coastline would look like. Our last port of call on our journey back to Ushuaia was at Deception Island. This is a volcanic island and has some lovely hot waters at the very edge of the Antarctic. What an experience to jump into the freezing waters of the sea and then straight into the hot volcanic waters. Our magnificent crew were on standby with towels and hot drinks. All in all the most fantastic holiday I have ever had. We had every age group on board from 20 to 70. There is something for everyone and there is a ship for everyone. It is an experience of a lifetime and I would be delighted to share more of my experience with you.

My customer stories

Sent by DJ McAllen

My first dealings with Niamh was in booking a group golf trip ( 25 people) in Oct 2015. The organisation of the entire trip was really excellent and everything went to plan and all expectations were met. Absolutely no issues whatsoever. I decided to use Niamh for my family holiday in 2016. Niamh was extremely helpful, investigated lots of various options and prices and came up with a proposal that i'm very happy with. I would highly recommend using Niamh for any business or personal trip that need organising.

Sent by Bernie Murphy

Niamh did everything for me in relation to our trip to Rome end of June 2015. I'm not great with booking holidays and I usually leave it all to the travel agent, Niamh was very approachable and helpful. She literally did everything from the flights to and from Rome, accommodation, travel insurance and tours. I have no hesitation in recommending Niamh to my friends and family.

Sent by Margaret Keating

I can't recommend Niamh highly enough. She has organised trips for me that were not the standard type. On one occasion my time frame was very tight. Niamh organised a great trip that was almost custom made, linking me with a tour that would otherwise have been impossible for me to access. She is always highly professional, approachable, obliging and very competent. When I plan a trip I call Niamh, tell her what I want and know I can sit back and relax knowing that she will take all the stress of planning and researching away from me. I just enjoy the anticipation of a great holiday! Margaret

Sent by John O'Connell

Niamh offers a professional service with that added personal touch that you won't get from any travel agent.

Sent by Caitriona O Sullivan

Niamh is fantastic to deal with when booking a trip away. Nothing is a problem to her! Couldn't recommend Niamh enough to be honest. Have booked a few long haul holidays through her and never had a problem with anything.

Sent by Ciaran Bohane

We travelled to many varied countries now thanks to Niamh. We always come back to her as she provides a prompt, professional, responsive service.

Sent by Donna Scanlan

We booked our Honeymoon to New York with Niam Quinlan and are very happy with the service received and would highly recommend Niamh. Donna & Colm

Sent by Lily Twomey

From my first conversation with Niamh I felt confident that she knew her business. She very quickly interpreted my "brief". It was great to have the research done for us. Niamh's knowledge of the destinations was invaluable and she even took the trouble to call with more insights when we seemed to be going astray. Our break was exactly what we needed. I would most certainly recommend Niamh to anyone with a busy schedule and a need to have trouble free breaks and holidays planned. It was a pleasure from start to finish. I will be contacting Niamh again .... whenever we get a break.

Sent by Maire Corr

We have never been disappointed with the service Niamh provides. She is always prompt and knows exactly our requirements The arrangements are always correct too.

Sent by Anne Martin

I found Niamh to be very professional, efficient and friendly to deal with.

Sent by Emma O Callaghan

Wonderful service, made booking our honeymoon a pleasure

Sent by Margaret Gowen

Just back from a great week at the Cye Holiday Centre in Salou. I explained I was going on holiday with my Mum and my 13 year old son. I found Niamh so easy and professional to deal with and nothing was an issue for her. She fully met all our needs and took all the hassle out of arranging this holiday for me as I find the internet so stressful. I am recommending Niamh to my family and friends.

Sent by Stacey King

Just a quick thank you. The bungalows around the pool at Costa Sal were just perfect for our needs. I will be recommending you in the future. Thanks again. Stacey and the family.

Sent by S. King

A friend recommended we contact Niamh and it was a brilliant recommendation! I described what we were looking for. From this Niamh suggested a resort and destination that I hadn't even considered, but Niamh assured us that she had sent many other families with young children there too. So we went at the start of June 2013 and had a brilliant holiday. Thank you very much Niamh.

Sent by Liam McGuire

I told Niamh what we were seeking, she came back with several options, each meeting the criteria, though each having its own unique features. We made our choice and it matched the expectations set for us under all headings. Cracking holiday Niamh, thank you.

Sent by Rory Duggan

My brother and myself both worked with Niamh on my stag to Las Vegas. She was top class in all departments. Always friendly with loads of advice. A pleasure to deal with. This was after she had sorted flights and accomodation for our hurling team to a weekend in Newcastle. Am currently looking into my honeymoon with her. Would definitely recommended her to anyone.

Sent by Teresa Morrissey

I found Niamh very helpful in helping me to choose our recent holiday to Portugal. She got back to me straight away when I had a query and sorted the problem straight away, I would recommend Niamh to any of my friends or family wishing to book a holiday.

Sent by Martin Condon

Niamh organised our holidays in Montenegro and Croatia last year. The detail was excellent and it made the vacation so stress free. For anything out of the oprdinary I would recommend discussing with Niamh as her knowledge and experience can make all the difference.

Sent by Judith Brosnan

We had a really enjoyable holiday in Benalmadena, thank you for all your help and assistance in booking same. We will definitely avail of your services again

Sent by Kay O'Donovan

I was very happy with the place Niamh picked for me and my family at Costa Sal in Lanzarote! The place was spotless and of the highest standard. Very highly recommended. The beach was within walking distance which suited us with small children. Everything was organised by Niamh including our pick up to and from the Airport and this helped greatly. Have passed Niamh's details to several of my own clients!

Sent by Gerard McCarthy

The best travel assistance I have received. Not only great value but well informed helpful suggestions. My round the world trip went like clockwork and my out of hours request for a last minute extra traveller was accommodated with the utmost courtesy and expedience. Will be calling ( within business hours! ) next time I travel. Thank you.

Sent by G Barry

Booked a trip to Iceland with Niamh and it was excellent She is very knowledgable and helpful and gives good recommendations. She replies very promptly and efficiently and works within your budget. We have since booked two other trips to Germany and Portugal with Niamh. She comes highly recommended.

Sent by Declan and Eileen McAuliffe

Niamh organised a most enjoyable family holiday for us in August 2011 at very short notice. Within a day of contacting Niamh she was able to give us availability on three different destinations. We settled on Benalmadena and the location and accommodation were excellent. Looking forward to booking a holiday with her again.

Sent by Ciara Mulvihill

Niamh Qinlan is undoubtly an extremely dedicated and professional travel agent. Her work ethic and dedication to her job is second to none. Niamh organises our school U.S.A Exchange programme each year to Rochester. I have to say with Niamh on board to arrange every minute detail I know everything will always run to schedule smoothly. Thanks again Niamh for everything you do for us in C.C.S.