Ireland has so much natural beauty, rural folklore and inherent charm to uncover that you really need an expert to show you around. Enter Globus Tour Director Will Collins, who has led tours here since the late 1980s, 'when tourism was an almost exotic word in Ireland'. We asked him to share a little of that local knowledge and explain what's special about taking an Irish tour.
Where do I begin? Is it the people, the landscape or possibly the Guinness? From my experience of working with people all over the English-speaking world, the feedback I get is, overwhelmingly, the people. The Irish landscape comes a close second.
Irish people have an inherent ability to charm and express genuine warmth towards visitors. We are spiritual by nature – and I don’t mean religious, its deeper than that. Ireland brings out the best in people, we have the ability to laugh at ourselves and find the relief that laughter can bring in even the most adverse situations. We just don’t take ourselves too seriously.
You don't have to think or worry about a thing! Everything is taken care of, from your hotel accommodation to site visits and itinerary. And what the uninitiated often don’t realise is that the Tour Director brings his or her vast knowledge and expertise to the experience - whether it’s making suggestions on where to eat, or providing the interesting facts.
There’s also the chance for new friendships with fellow travellers – and let’s not forget you can have that pint of Guinness without having to drive. And travelling in a luxury motor coach allows you to see over the hedgerows as you go, and that cannot be underestimated when it comes to seeing the beautiful countryside.
I love bringing visitors to Killarney. It is the gateway to the Ring of Kerry, the Dingle Peninsula and West Cork. On its doorstep is Killarney National Park, one of Ireland's most outstanding areas of natural beauty and home to Ireland's highest mountain range, the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks – the land and seascapes are spectacular. When you have finished your day soaking up the stunning scenery, you can retreat to Killarney where the buzz of the late-night shops, pubs, restaurants and horse-drawn carriages present a real sense of escape. I love Killarney so much, I choose to live there!"
I have to preface this question by saying that no self-respecting Irish man will drink Guinness anywhere else in the world other than Ireland. Here’s why. To create the perfect pint, the bar keeper must regularly clean the lines, carefully cool and store the keg, and ultimately pour the pint in two stages.
Stage one, pull the pint three quarters the way up the tilted glass. Stage two, allow to stand and settle for one minute and nineteen seconds (very important) before topping up till the glass is full and the perfect creamy white head has formed.
This unfortunately does not happen in most parts of the world, and I have met many visitors over the years who say they have tried Guinness at home in their own countries and they didn't like it. However, when I convince them to try it in Ireland, they are immediately converted. Big pub, small pub, it doesn't matter when the basic rules are applied to serving Guinness.
Will Collins is one of many experienced Tour Directors who lead our Globus and Cosmos tours around Ireland.
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