Emigrants are those who for multiple reasons need to escape their current living situation. They become immigrants when and if they’re allowed onto foreign shores.
Years roll by. Emigrants become statistics. Immigrants often achieve citizenship in their new countries. But sometimes they and their offspring – especially if they have Irish roots -- are compelled to look back.
One award-winning tour company, whose reputation lies in whisking guests into the magic of off-the-beaten-track Ireland, hopes that visitors of Irish descent will make the effort to explore their particular pasts when visiting the Emerald Isle.
“Every Vagabond Small-Group Adventure Tour sheds light on who the Irish are today and where we’ve been,” explains Robb Rankin, owner of Vagabond tours. “When it comes to the particulars of family histories and genealogies, while you’re with us in Ireland, you may want to explore your own extended family ancestry -- or look for relatives in order to qualify for an Irish passport.”
Here ia a Vagabond blog post related to Irish ancestry and roots: https://vagabondtoursofireland.com/nancy-came-back-irish-roots
Other suggestions Rankin has for using valuable digging time in Ireland wisely is to:
- Meet up with Aoife Fitzgerald, the mother of “Vagaguide” Rhys. She is on tap to help sort out the inevitable obstacles when doing this digging.
- Use free time when on Vagabond tours to meet up with local experts in towns where the tour stops. Meet-ups with local experts can be arranged in Kinsale, Dingle and Clifden, among many others.
- Schedule time for serious research before and after the tour in such treasure troves as
- National Archives in Dublin;
- PRONI in Belfast;
- National Library of Ireland in Dublin;
- Local archives in town libraries – most medium sized towns in Ireland have a library with a local records section;
- Parish archives (catholic and protestant);
- Specific groups settled in certain areas in North America. For example, Blasket islanders from the Dingle peninsula congregated mainly in Massachusetts, around the Hartford, CT, area (if people know they have Blasket ancestors, they can find out more on the Blasket website).
- Connect the emigration dots while on such immersive tours as a 6 Day Ancient Ireland Tour (winner of Best Ireland’s Ancient East Tourism Experience at the 2019 Irish Tourism Awards). This itinerary at €1,819 per person double visits:
- Cobh: The last port of call for the Titanic and departure point for Famine emigrants. Conde Nast Traveler in 2019 named Cobh one of “Europe’s Most Beautiful Small Towns.”
- Dunbrody Famine Ship in New Ross (Wexford): This is an exact replica of a 19th century Irish emigrant vessel.
- New Ross where the Kennedys (of JFK fame) originated.
- An optional detour to Béal na Bláth, site of the ambush and assassination of Michael Collins who after the Famine represents in the early 20th century yet another chapter of the pathos of Ireland and its quest for independence.
To begin to appreciate the emigration story, Rankin suggests that either before or after this (and other) tours that guests book a Back Cab Tour to explore the history of Belfast that is contested by two tribes that are Catholic and Protestant, Republican and Unionist, Green and Orange.
In late summer 2019 Ireland reported a recent milestone of population growth surpassing 4.9m. The growth represents, in addition to non-Irish nationals, returning Irish nationals to the tune of 30 percent. This is the highest level in 170 years since the post-Famine point of 1851 when emigrants undertook the perilous sea journey to Canada and the United States. Belfast, Dublin and Derry, followed by Limerick and Sligo and later Liverpool in England, were the key ports of embarkation. During the Famine many also left from small ports such as Westport, Killala and Kinsale. From such ports embarked 2.5 million of the six million Irish people who emigrated to North America (1848-1950), including Annie Moore, the first immigrant through Ellis Island who departed from Cobh.
For more details, itinerary, images and inclusions please see Vagabond Small-Group Tours of Ireland offering two styles of culturally immersive travel. Vagabond Adventure Tours are for active travellers who want to mix up hiking and biking and other outdoor adventures with history, culture, dining and shopping. Driftwood Journeys of Discovery follow similar itineraries but at an intimate and in-depth looking and lingering pace, sans the physical exertion.
On all of its tours, Vagabond staff curate locally owned accommodations, pubs and restaurants that help serve their goal of authenticity. Transport is in a custom 4x4 Mercedes 'Vagatron' or Mercedes-Benz “Drifter” that allows access beyond where regular tour buses go. In 2019 Vagabond began using a fleet of Mercedes “Sprinters” and Volkswagen “Crafters” for guest comfort.
For details on all of Vagabond Tours of Ireland itineraries, availability and for 2019-2020 reservations, please visit https://vagabondtoursofireland.com/. Call toll free (from the US) 1.833-230-0288; in Ireland 00353 (0) 1 5634358; or email: [email protected].
About Vagabond Tours of Ireland
Since 2002 Vagabond Adventure Tours has been creating opportunities for visitors to embrace Ireland by walking, biking, horseback riding and kayaking its lands and waters, imbibing history and culture along the way. In 2013 the company was honored by National Geographic Traveler with a Top 50 Tour of a Lifetime distinction. In 2015 and 2017 Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland was named the “Best Adventure Experience” at the Irish Tourism Awards. In 2017, Vagabond became Ireland’s first tour operator to achieve Ecotourism Gold Level Certification and in 2018, Vagabond Tours won The Green Tourism & Entertainment category in Ireland’s most prestigious Green (business) Awards. In February 2019, the company won two top Irish Tourism Industry Awards for the Best Ireland Ancient East Tourism Experience and Best Environmental Tourism Innovation.