Note to self! I should really never fly Montreal to Toronto, Toronto to St Johns, St. John's to Dublin. It was hell.
Arriving in Dublin was also a bit of a surprise. "I thought they had a new terminal" I muttered to myself while reaching for my iPhone to take a quick photo. The stark glare of wood and heavily polished linoleum struck my attention immediately. Old rickety stairs, old passport control booths. Finally the luggage rack. I recall noticing the excessive amount of baggage tag stickers which had accumulated over the years on the black fin belt. Surely, I thought, they could give someone a job to remove them. I photographed the "sli Amach " sign beaming onto the floor. It means EXIT. I was home or maybe not.
There were many burgundy clamshell cases on the rack that day. Finally I found mine. Gosh I wish chivalry wasn't dead, I yanked that case from the moving belt convinced I was going to injure myself in the process.
I was far away from Hudson, Quebec, my friends, my adopted family, my support system.
Now in Ireland the temperature had dropped dramatically. I rummaged furiously through my cases to find my red raincoat that tells everybody I'm a tourist! The scarf I bought at the street fair here in Hudson the weekend before. Family picked me up at the airport.
Our first call was to a brewery currently under construction, there was business to be done here with my brother in Law.
Now on our way to way to Carlingford, a medieval town on the north east coast nestled between the Cooley Mountains and the Mourne Mountains. Deeply effected by the last recession.
How come their properties now sell at Dublin prices? How come this town boasts having 60,000 visitors a year? Steeped in history, on the water and festivals galore, golf clubs, yacht clubs, award winning restaurants, pubs, walks and a beach. Not a condo in sight. Well, yes there were but they are on the outskirts of the town.
This town had all that Hudson has to offer. How did they do it? How did they become a destination?
The natural beauty of this town certainly helped, its history preserved. My experience was that they do not excel in customer service. If a business did, they stood out from the crowd.
What they did have was a vibrant business community.
I happened to be present for their oyster festival. I was also interested in how they were going to keep people in Town for all the activities. First of all, parking was readily available. There were signposts directing people to different businesses, loudspeakers strategically placed to alert the visitor of the next event and location. The crowds moved in response. The continuity announcer was superb and music played from a local radio station. Festival ambassadors available to add colour and information, an abundant supply of taxis, the festival booths were few and contained in a small area, they could not block a store. Pubs brought their fare outside. Mary Sweeney school of Irish dancing was there holding, a camp along with the eagle eye of Shane Mac Avinchey of River Dance fame. The following week another summer camp on Thomas D'Arcy McGee, Father of Canadian Confederation.
This town had a mix of weekend events and week long with plenty of accommodation available. Signposts directing visitors to various businesses. Note: A central booking office for accommodation!
It's tiring work for Parade Ambassadors and their decorative boots, having a quick smoke break! You've got to leave that car door open to let the smoke out! Three young ladies sat in the car.
How did this business community do this? How did they get through the economic downturn and survive? The Four Seasons Hotel group has invested in this community, they purchased a convent and are open for business. They see something in this town.
I believe small businesses kept this town alive. I believe the community and business community made this happen. These businesses were seen as important to the local economy and given flexibility in development to keep this towns heart beating. B&Bs were bulging at the seams. Hotels were full as were holiday homes.
I saw Hudson in my visit to Carlingford.
Hudson is my home. We have a gold mine at our fingertips!
Supporting local businesses will keep them open and vibrant, I know we don't have Oyster beds but we have our arts, music, incredible history, golf clubs, yacht clubs and award winning restaurants to tell the world about AND one of the best St Patrick's Parade around.
So now, I'm off for a walk with my trusty hound, for breakfast, in our town, to connect with my friends and neighbours. So if you "Twitter" tweet, use Facebook, Instagram or write a letter using snail mail, tell everybody about Hudson.
It takes a community.
See you there!
This Blog was first posted by the Heart of Hudson - click here for the original.