Being a Tourist at Home in Ireland
From a young age, Liz McEvoy from Ireland had always wanted to visit new places, learn about new cultures, try new food and also see famous attractions worldwide. Liz studied travel and tourism, got a job in America for two summers in a row and then travelled in Europe as often as possible, however she seemed to exclude her home; Ireland. Here she shares her experience of why you should become a tourist in your home country.
A few years ago I got a job in a tour company - Paddywagon Tours who are based in Dublin and things seemed to change from there. Meeting hundreds and hundreds of people coming to us to explore this beautiful country, answering all their questions and hearing about their brilliant experiences with the guides and the sites, I started to feel a strong sense of guilt that I was missing out on so much of my own country.
Sure, I had holidayed away from Dublin when I was a child but never to the main sites of interest that are so well known and loved across the world. By the end of my first two months in the job, having gone on all the day tours offered, I couldn’t believe I had waited so long to really experience ‘The Emerald Isle’.
I had travelled so many of the major cities in America and Europe and yet I had never gone to see sites such as the Cliffs of Moher, only three hours away from me, and here I was, it being my job to sell my country to people from every destination you can think of! I was always planning my next trip to visit the ‘must sees’ of the world and yet I had attractions on my door step that are world famous and I had never thought about what I might be missing.
The guides on these tours have so much knowledge and passion for Ireland that I finished each one with a new, heightened proudness of where I come from, as well as learning more than I could have imagined.
What had I been missing out on all these years?
The rugged beauty of Connemara, the history behind the medieval capital of Ireland; Kilkenny, the stunning coastline when visiting the Giant’s Causeway and this would be naming just a few examples, not forgetting the fantastic people and their ability to make anyone feel welcome. Also seeing how different people live all the while, being so close to me. You wouldn’t think that for such a small country it could be so diverse.
I also discovered that it’s not only the countryside that makes Ireland great. Dublin is in fact an amazing city. It is the perfect size to explore over a few days and have an unforgettable time doing so! From seeing where Guinness started, to going to Croke Park, home of our national sport to immersing yourself in our history, there is something for everyone.
I have a number of friends abroad, who ask me if they can come visit Ireland as it is one on their bucket list. A year ago, my reply would have been that their country was more probably more interesting and that it’s not all that special to be from Ireland. But now, I am asking people to come visit me, and I get excited planning a trip here, knowing that I am going to be able to show off to them how wonderful my country is. It is now that I truly realise why on 17th March, so many people around the world, want to be Irish and celebrate our patron saint day. All the famous landmarks of the world get lit up in green, and people come to Ireland to visit their families who may go back generation after generation, wanting to learn about how they lived and where they came from, or simply be part of our culture for the day.
I know now that when I travel abroad and people ask me about home, I can tell them so much more than I would have been able to before and that now I am a walking promotion for Ireland.
For such a small country, a population of not even five million, the Irish people know how to make an impact on the world and I love that I am part of it.
My hope for the above story is not only that it will make you want to visit Ireland but it will inspire you to, before you plan your next trip abroad, you visit one new place in your own country. Go explore your own history and culture so that you can prove to others why they should see where you come from. It is amazing what you can learn and how you can feel so strong about where you come from.
By Liz Mcevoy