Dunmanway seems a quieter place after the Norwegian family who followed a magic balloon from Norway left last Wednesday to wend their weary way home to their village of Naustdal in Norway’s stunning Fjord Land north of Bergen.
The family spent 12 days in Ireland after a finding a prize-winning balloon in Norway which was sent from West Cork. Parents Linda and Viggo and their children Pernilla, Magnus, and Nora — all under 10 — flew home yesterday morning after enjoying almost a fortnight of Cork’s best hospitality. Their final weekend saw the family enjoying the delights of Blarney Castle, a taste of traditional Irish music in Baile Mhúirne on Saturday night, and a final night in the pods at the Top of the Rock facility near Drimoleague.
Other trips they enjoyed along the way included a visit to the Toy Soldier Factory in Cill na Martra and hiking around the source of the River Lee in Gougane Barra. The ‘Message in a Balloon’ was the idea of Dunmanway Chamber of Commerce, and the note found by Linda was tied to a balloon released in the town last Christmas. It explained that whoever found it would be welcome to enjoy an array of prizes offered through sponsorship from local businesses.
Enjoying their day at the Ballabuidhe Races Linda, Viggo, Nora, Magnus and Pernilla, the Norwegian Taule-Leikanger family pictured with local community stalwart Fergus Crowley.
The note contained the number of Catherine Crowley from Dunmanway Chamber of Commerce who took a call from the Norwegian family when they found the balloon and was with them as they toured Cork for the last fortnight. “They left yesterday morning [Wednesday] bright and early. They are delighted with the trip. They’ll want a holiday when they go back they are so exhausted, but they loved their time here,” she said.
The family spent their last day relaxing and enjoying a barbecue put on especially for them before enjoying a few drinks. “They’ve had a ball. We even had a local hairdresser here give Linda a new look before she went back and she also got to enjoy a massage so she could fly home totally relaxed. “They had been to Ireland before but only as far as Dublin before they had their children,” Ms Crowley said. Given the welcome they received, DHL Express even came in to sponsor sending back some luggage for the family as they have been weighed down with gifts from people on their travels.
Linda, Viggo, Pernilla, Magnus, Nora will never be the same after following a magic balloon to Dunmanway. But neither will this great little town which has rediscovered what a good and supportive community there is in the warm hearted centre of West Cork. Congratulations to all the community stalwarts who made this happen especially Deirdre Kelly, Catherine Crowley, Judy Kelleher, Valerie Hurley, Finn Hummingbird Kearney, Helen Houten O’Reilly, Josephine Connolly, aka Dunmanway Chamber of Commerce.
As the Chamber of Commerce said in their statement:
“We at Dunmanway Chamber of Commerce are still in amazement that a bunch of balloons we released at a charity event last Christmas has had such a sensational outcome. It was just a bit of fun, never in our wildest dreams did we expect it to travel over 2500km to Norway, & found 6 months later! Nor had we planned on getting a family of 5 from Norway to Dunmanway in West Cork. But the fairytale continued when we received a call from Norwegian Air offering us flights from Norway to London Gatwick for the Taule Leikanger family.
We are very busy preparing entertainment & fun for the family, and what a better place than Dunmanway “THE HOME Of SAM MAGUIRE ” and as Dunmanway is so central for touring West Cork, It is 30 min from all the coastal town & beaches, 50min from Cork city, 1 hour to Kerry not to mention what we have to offer here in our own town of Dunmanway and surrounding villages.
We have a beautiful town with walks on the Nowen Hill & Shehy mountains, a state of the art swimming pool that is due to open soon, Funmanway Zorbing , paintballing & mountain boarding park situated very close to Sam Maguire’s home place, Pitch & Putt course & some lovely local shops, crafts & accommodation.”
If I was in Catherine Crowley’s shoes when Linda Taule rang on 15th June to say she had found three balloons when hiking on the banks of Forde Fjord 3 hours north of Bergen my instinct would be to head for the hills! But the members of Dunmanway Chamber of Commerce are made of sterner stuff and immediately ran with the challenge and local businesses responded magnificently. Particular mention must be made of Galvin’s on the Green, Lake House B & B and the Top of the Rock Pod Park in Drimoleague who accommodated the family. Kearys Nissan in Cork gave the family a gleaming Nissan Qashqai to use during their stay. Local adventure park Funmanway brought them out for a day’s zorbing, they walked with the Alpaca’s at Waterfall Alpaca Park, walked the Nowen Hill Trails with Dunmanway Hikers and much, much more.
Their trip coincided with Dunmanway’s Ballabuidhe Festival, a real slice of old Ireland which has been running for over 400 years and consists of a Horse Fair, a street market and the three day Ballabuidhe Race Festival along with much accompanying festivities. The Taule-Leikanger family were guests of honour at the Belles of Ballabuidhe Ball hosted by Emmet Kennedy of Cork96 FM and spent a day at the races. They particularly enjoyed the towns open air Céilí and it was lovely to see the Norwegian children doing Irish dancing with the local friends they had made as if they had been River dancing for years! Proof again that adults make life complicated but kids sort it out for themselves. Oh, and did I forget to mention the excitement of the fund-raising Duck Race on the town’s Sally River?
The trip garnered considerable positive publicity for Dunmanway, a charming and often overlooked town at the centre of West Cork as visitors head for the coast. The event was covered by both Irish and international print media, on radio and on television. The highlight of the coverage was undoubtedly Linda Taule and Catherine Crowley being interviewed live on TV3’s “The Seven O’Clock Show” and acquitting themselves rather splendidly. The family stayed that night in the rather splendid Brooks Hotel in Drury Street, Dublin and to show we are not adverse to racial stereotyping they were brought on a “Viking Splash Tour” of Dublin the next day.
At a sponsored BBQ at The Southern Bar in Dunmanway we had an opportunity to say goodbye to the Norwegian family who arrived as our guests and who now leave as our friends. Linda Taule and Viggo Leikanger were there with their children, Pernilla and Nora at ground level and Magnus peeping out of the rooflight in Galvin’s B & B as he was not well. Linda launched another balloon from Dunmanway which promptly flew into a tree which we took to be a message from the almighty god Thor. We ate burgers, wished Linda a happy birthday, made speeches, said skål and had a good time. A bit like the last 12 days!
This is a real good news story made possible by the generous and warm hearted people of Dunmanway, the warm hearted little town at the centre of the state of mind known as West Cork. But, as they say hereabouts “No Bother.” Linda and Viggo and their children were charming people and it was a pleasure to get to know them. They were engaging and interested and over the 12 days reciprocated the warmth shown to them by doing their best to promote Dunmanway and the attractions of this place apart known as West Cork. Indeed the feeling in Dunmanway is that having the Norwegian Family here has done wonders both in promoting the town and giving it confidence that when it comes together it can really achieve something.
One final footnote, our Norwegian friends were returning home with so many gifts from here that DHL were kind enough to sponsor couriering a rather large box of goodies to Norway. Listen to the warm words of Linda and Viggo at the farewell event as they attest that Dunmanway and West Cork were very much to a Viking’s liking! They had the holiday of a lifetime but will probably need another holiday to recover!
Ha det bra og god tur Linda, Viggo og familie!! Slán abhaile!