Tour Directors make our trips extra awesome. They’re the go-to pros who really know their stuff when it comes to having a good time abroad.
Meet Gavin, a top-rated Tour Director extraordinaire.
With overwhelming praise from travelers on The Grand Tour of Ireland, we wanted to know more about what makes him so good at what he does. We sat down for a chat and learned about his secrets for creating an awesome on-tour experience, his life in the travel industry, his love for Ireland, and the best places for a pint on the Emerald Isle.
Without further ado, here’s Gavin. Actually, one more ado: Imagine all of this with an Irish accent.
Let’s just start from the beginning: Where are you from?
I’m from Navan, which was really small when I was growing up, but now it’s kinda like a commuter town for Dublin. Pierce Brosnan (James Bond) comes from my home town.
I didn’t realize he was Irish…
Haha yeah, he doesn’t sound like it.
Anyways, I was in Dublin for about 8 years after I left school doing various things, including getting a degree in Visual Arts Practice. Then I moved to Galway for two years for my Masters, then back to Dublin. Dublin’s got the big-city atmosphere, which doesn’t suit me that well. So I moved to Cork, and I’m happy there because it’s a nice mix between Galway and Dublin.
What do you do during your time off?
My favorite kind of recreation is to go swimming or cliff diving or surfing—depending what way the weather goes.
Is the water warm enough up there?
Haha yeah, people always ask that! In the summertime yes, it’s okay. I mean, like, it’s cold. But it’s invigorating.
”…it’s just seeing their reaction and having them ease into it; showing them how to be a local as opposed to how to be a tourist.”
So, what’s your favorite spot on the Grand Tour of Ireland?
You can’t just go to Ireland and not visit one of the smaller, quainter towns, and there’s nowhere better than Killarney to visit for that aspect of Ireland.
They cater to such a huge amount of visitors every year. But they somehow manage to keep that small-town vibe and be very welcoming.
Sometimes travelers are nervous leaving Dublin when they’re really into nightlife; they feel like they might miss their chance. But when they hit Killarney, the nightlife goes off the scale. Like [a pub called] The Grand; did you visit The Grand?
I had the time of my life there.
It’s great. They have traditional Irish music to start. Then really good-quality cover bands playing great music, and it turns to a nightclub as it goes on.
”Ireland is a very welcoming place.”
Why do you enjoy showing these groups of Americans your home country?
It’s just seeing people’s’ reactions, you know? Especially first-time travelers coming, I think Ireland is a great place to start out.
We have a lot of first-time travelers; sometimes their first time leaving their state, maybe first time on an airplane, and definitely loads of people on their first time across the Atlantic. And the subtle differences between the way we do things in Ireland versus the way you do things in the States, they’re the ones that give people the biggest shock factor.
So it’s just seeing their reaction and having them ease into it; showing them how to be a local as opposed to how to be a tourist.
Well, in Ireland, nobody goes to the bar or pub and doesn’t buy a drink.
In the long run, people appreciate the little tips like that given along the way. And I enjoy it, and I enjoy seeing them feel comfortable everywhere we go—feeling like they’re welcome as possible.
”When the rain comes down, there’s always a cozy place with a cozy corner.”
What are other things that Americans tend to find most surprising about Ireland?
Definitely that welcoming factor. People being enthusiastic and excited to hear stories—I think people are always amazed at how much Irish people know about the American way of life, politics, stuff like that. And everyone wants to get engaged in conversation, no matter where you go.
Also, totally different, but a wrong expectation people have of Ireland is the weather. We get a bad rep, like “oh it’s gonna be raining all the time”. I mean, I don’t know what it was like when you were there, bu—
It was actually sunny the whole week.
EXACTLY! See?? So the weather isn’t so bad. I think it’s consistent all year-round in that we don’t know what’s gonna happen. It might rain but you might get sunshine that same day. If you come to Ireland for a week, you’ll get some really nice days. That’s something people aren’t aware of.
But when the rain comes down, there’s always a cozy place with a cozy corner. Where you can pull up a chair and get some comfort food, some nice warm stew and a pot of tea (or hot whiskey or Irish coffee). A musician might pull out an instrument and just start playing away.
How did Gavin become a Tour Director? What advice does he have for making a career of travel? Read Part 2 now!
Ready to go to Ireland? We can take you there.