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Travel story

Quick update on John Mallon’s #TaxBreakTour of Ireland.

As I wrote here last week, our man in Cork is currently taking to all corners of the country Forest’s message that current levels of excise duty on tobacco are "punitive" and “immoral”.

To give you an idea of the nature of these annual tours, here - in John’s own words - are his thoughts before we began planning this year's schedule:

Starting from Cork, I normally begin a tour by travelling to Tralee, Co Kerry, the night before with a view to an interview with Radio Kerry sometime between 0900 and 1300 on Monday, Day 1. It depends what slot we can get.

Then I drive into Limerick county to stay in a pub B&B in Foynes. This leaves me close to Live 95FM in Limerick City the next morning early on Day 2, Tuesday. Clare FM can then be reached by lunchtime on Tuesday and I then head further north to Galway overnight.

It's Galway Bay FM the following morning on Day 3, Wednesday, and then there's a choice. Either go north east to CRC FM, a community radio station in Castlebar, or head north west to Shannonside FM in Ballyhaunis. Either way it’s north again to Sligo Town overnight with Ocean FM the next day, Day 4, Thursday.

On the morning of Day 4 there's a decision to be made. Do I go north to Highland Radio, Donegal (and that can be a three hour drive), or go south east to Shannonside FM in Longford. If I go south I would then head to Tullamore overnight with Midlands FM on Friday morning, Day 5. If possible I can then head east to Naas for a lunchtime/Friday afternoon slot (maybe?). That puts me south of Dublin on the motorway to Cork.

If however I had to go to Highland Radio the day before I would be facing a 300-mile journey on Friday through backroads to Cork - that alone is a day's work. In fact one year I did that trip during a storm and was eleven hours behind the wheel before I got home.

The second week begins in Waterford overnight Sunday with a view to a breakfast slot on WLR FM first thing Monday, Day 6. I then head north to Kilkenny. It would be great if I could get a lunchtime slot with KCLR as I could swing back to Clonmel overnight and a slot on TippFM the next day, Day 7.

However Kilkenny could end up being Day 7 instead. If so I would head to Bray and East Coast FM on Day 8. I would then propose heading over the Wicklow Mountains to Naas overnight on Day 8. Day 9 would then include Tipp FM on the way back to Cork for Day 10 and 96FM plus Red FM.  

Inevitably the schedule is slightly different each year. Flexibility is key.

This year John began week one in Tralee where he was interviewed on Radio Kerry. He then travelled by car to Ennis (Clare FM), Galway (Galway Bay FM) and Sligo (Ocean FM). A further scheduled interview, with Midlands FM in Tullamore, fell through because it clashed with a major ploughing event!

This week John drove to Waterford (WLR FM) on Monday, then travelled to Limerick (Limerick’s Live 95FM) on Wednesday. He also did a phone interview for Cork’s 96FM (rescheduled from Friday last week). Today he’s in Tipperary for an interview with Tipp FM at 11.00am.

I should add that John isn’t working alone. Setting up all these interviews is PR consultant Jacqui Delbaere who has worked with Forest on various campaigns going back to 2005 when she worked for a PR company just around the corner from our office in Margaret Street, close to Oxford Circus.

It’s worth mentioning that on previous tours a major bone of contention has been finding hotels that have designated smoking rooms. In 2015 I wrote:

I'm looking forward to reading John's tour report but meanwhile here's a taste. If you're planning a holiday in Ireland, look away now. He writes:

“I phoned two hotels in Clonmel and got a snotty 'no smoking' policy read to me. Ennis was even worse. I asked two hotels the direct question, ‘Would you prefer smokers didn't stay at your hotel?’ and incredibly both said YES!!!”

In Galway John tried “many” hotels but “none of them offered a bedroom with smoking allowed”. Forced to book a room on the second floor of a resolutely non-smoking establishment he told me:

“I'm paying top dollar for a nice room and the food is OK too. But the issue is that I don't feel at home. I don't even feel welcome.

“I sense by their actions that they'd prefer if I wasn't a smoker. I have a card in the room that invites me to rate my stay and I know what I'd love to write on it.”

The ‘good’ news this time around is that John no longer requires a smoking room because - shock horror - he quit smoking twelve months ago and is now vaping so that’s one less problem, for him at least.

(I understand that vaping is often banned in hotel bedrooms too but the chances of being 'caught' are far less, I would imagine.)

Anyway it means I no longer have to suffer John’s indignant reaction when he would arrive in Dublin for a meeting or event and discover we'd booked him a room in a non-smoking hotel.

Smokers, eh?

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Reader Comments (3)

Smokers know how to stealth smoke in smokerphobic hotel rooms so we don't need to be forced to vape.

Thursday, September 27, 2018 at 13:03 | Unregistered Commenterpat nurse

I agree with Pat on 'stealth smoking' especially with hand rolled tobacco. I try to support smoker friendly hotels if possible.though. There are some hotel chains that I will never use because they seem very aggressive to smokers. These are Premier Inns and Travelodge.

According to the Smokers United website, Ireland and the UK have the lowest number of smoker friendly hotels in a long list of countries. Ireland has 11.78% and the UK is even lower at 8.36%. Ignore Croatia because it's only got 1 hotel listed. Probably the reason why the figures are so low is because smoking is banned by default in hotel rooms here and in Ireland and to make a room into a designated smoking room, a number of things have to be done including registering with the authorities.

In contrast Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Portugal have around half of its hotels as smoker friendly.

Thursday, September 27, 2018 at 18:01 | Unregistered CommenterSchabbs

Unfortunately, the link I provided to access in my previous post about the lack of smoking rooms in Irish hotels isn't working. The following link works but cut and paste will have to be used:

To Simon, confirms what was experienced in the Galway area. It says - No Hotels with smoking rooms in Galway. There were 3 Hotels with balcony/patio-rooms, but only one of any size. This was The Galmont Hotel with 203 rooms.

Friday, September 28, 2018 at 9:52 | Unregistered CommenterSchabbs

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