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Tourism Skillset

DISCLAIMER: As a rule, the Irish do not feel comfortable “bigging” themselves up. We see it as having “notions” above our station! Anyone inclined to do so will usually be brought back down to Earth very quickly with some heckling. So with apologies to my fellow Irish, both living and dead, please excuse me while I tell the world how great I am – or at least hint strongly at it. 

I’ve an eclectic range of skills and hope that they at least show I’m not completely spoofing when I say I know a bit about X or Y. Chances are I do and the best place for me is out on the road, sleeves rolled up about to tell them a tale connected to the landscape they are driving through. That to me is one of the great treats of the job. 

Attributes I bring to each and every tour are the three Cs: courtesy, charm and curiosity. Add in humour, punctuality and attention to detail. Definitely getting “notions” here! Right then, on with the show…

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Qualifications

Nationally Accredited Tour Guide

I’ve successfully completed the National Tour Guiding Special Purpose Award from the prestigious Portobello Institute in Dublin. This means I’m qualified to lead tours around the whole of Ireland.

The QQI Level 6 tour guiding qualifications I’ve received are in the areas of:- 

  •  National Tour Guiding
  • Irish National Heritage and Culture
  • National Tour Management
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Tourism Proficiency

Run by the national tourism authority, Fáilte Ireland, and awarded by what is now the South East Technological University (formerly W.I.T) I successfully completed this course in 2010. The course comprehensively covered all aspects in the field of running a tourism business. 

I specialised in tourism and travel service marketing as I sought to bring more tourists to north Donegal via an innovative piece of technology. Based on my submitted project, I was shortlisted as one of nine finalists for the Business Challenge Awards – and was the only one in digital media.  

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Qualified Oral Historian

As both an audio archivist and radio producer, I have accumulated a lot of original recordings around Ireland. They are freely available on my racontour.com website. This wisdom adds a further layer to my skillset in that the information provided is aural and told with a passionate and authenticity that no book can ever match.

Recording these various raconteurs over the years has also added to my own ability to tell a story to an audience as deft and succinctly as possible. For an island known for its storytelling, this does give me a competitive edge. I’m able to use the best material via Spotify when on tour adding an extra layer to the tourist’s enjoyment of the landscape. 

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Cultural Commentator

I’ve been interested in Irish history and literature for years. Many of the pieces in the Blog of this website relate to these topics. Since the 1990’s I’ve been active in promoting both fields and was organising Heritage Weeks several years before the Heritage Council came up with them.
 
On the centenary of the Easter Rising, I decided to do a Masters in Irish Studies at St. Mary’s University in Twickenham, which has a long proud record of receiving Irish undergraduates. New Perspectives in Irish History and Modern Irish Literature were two of the core modules. I’m happy to take a discussion to an academic level if required!
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Retired Solicitor

Believe it or not, this professional qualification is one that adds greatly to being a tour guide. It manifests itself in being a stickler for detail and ensuring that I’m on solid ground in making judgment calls on a daily basis: be it health and safety or quoting which law is in place for mandatory wearing of seat belts!

It is also good for the tourist in a range of areas from advising them of the tax refund scheme, customs clearance for the USA at Dublin and Shannon or explaining the broadbrush details of legal documents from the Good Friday Agreement, the 1937 Constitution or indeed the controversial Legacies Act in place (for now) in Northern Ireland.

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Folklorist

I’ve been fascinated with Irish folklore for over 40 years. To understand the Irish, one has to know about this great oral tradition. A lot of the material you will find in my audio archive relates to folklore – from fairy lore to superstitions.  My Rambling House series features significant vernacular material. In recent times, I’ve added to that with material with the addition of the Celtic Calendar relating to the lore surrounding the four cross-quarter days in Ireland.

I’m a paid-up subscriber to Béaloideas, the Journal of the Folklore of Ireland Society. See the Blog section for more material on this fascinating topic or go to The Twilight Court, my musical comedy based on Irish folklore.

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Storyteller

For all the qualifications in the world, if I can’t open my mouth and tell a yarn, then this page ‘ain’t worth a pitcher of warm spit’ as some great sage once said. That same fellow also said that speaking in public is ranked even higher than a fear of death. And boy, did I once fear both back in my twenties, but no more; ‘not with the fire in my belly now’ as yet another great sage once said. 

In the accompanying video, I’m talking about Ireland’s oh-so-pious St. Kevin of Glendalough and bringing in his neighbour, the late boulevardier, Garech Browne. I was doing it to show that sometimes opposites can have plenty in common. Showing who you’re talking about helps greatly I find.

Driving Competencies

Limousine Licence

The best way to enjoy Ireland is moving around in small numbers with comfort. Thankfully, the limousine allows both and is a licence I’m delighted to offer in 2024. Please note I do not have my own limo at present! 

Mini Bus Licence

I’ve never been a fan of the 52 seater buses that can be found at every tourist trap. However, a 16 seater Sprinter or the likes is perfect for getting folk to those places the 52 seater “Zombuses” dare not go near.

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