Meet Our Local Ireland Host: Neil Harrington
Ireland is flourishing with things to do and see. From the rolling hillsides around County Kerry to the gorgeous state parks and nature preserves, Ireland is as green as its reputation claims. Besides its outstanding nature, Ireland has many bustling towns and of course the city of Dublin to enjoy. But what should visitors really see while there? Why see Ireland on an Untour? And what is craic?! We have interviewed our local Ireland Untour host, Neil Harrington to find out!
What do you like about living in Ireland?
I live in rural Ireland where I am very lucky to live in a part that is renowned for its charm and beauty. Our family have lived in the area for hundreds of years, and I have a great connection with the people and area. Our town of Kenmare is truly proof that it’s a people that make a community. Additionally I love being part of the GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association), which promotes Irish Gaelic games, music, song, dance, and storytelling.
What is something people don’t know about Ireland?
Many of our American guests are surprised by the amount of roundabouts on our roads, the speed limit reaching 100 km per hour, even on our narrow country roads, and the high quality of the food and service. Another insider’s tip is that there are never any coffee refills; you pay for every cup.
Where are the top places that Untourists should visit in County Kerry?
Certainly check out Muckross House, Muckross Abbey, and Ross Castle, all situated in the Killarney National Park beside the lakes of Killarney. While driving down along the Ring of Kerry stop by Derrynane House, Staigue Fort, and see Valentia Island. Over the border to County Cork and the Ring of Beara is a must as is a drive down to Mizen Head. There is always something to do and see here!
What are you most excited about sharing with the County Kerry Untourists?
I’m most excited to show them around my town, filling them in on some of the local history and generally guiding and advising them on their trips. Also County Kerry is surrounded by wonderful hillsides which make for great mountain walking.
Aside from sightseeing what experiences should Americans seek in Ireland?
There are numerous sites, houses, and events that American Untourists should see in Ireland. In County Kerry we offer a beautiful array of wild scenery and nature, and the many indoor attractions. Also be sure to get on a bike and enjoy riding on our country roads. Afterwards be sure to stop for a chat. It’s the Irish way!
What are some of Americans’ misconceptions regarding Ireland and the Irish?
Ireland is no longer the land of “The Quiet Man” and is an advanced, multicultural society. We have a fairly young, well educated population, and our food scene is alive and well. Many Americans claim that “Ireland is so small we can see it all in a week” but in reality there is so much to see and do in County Kerry, let alone the rest of Ireland, that it would be impossible to just give it one week.
Why should people book an Ireland Untour? What is the advantage of seeing the area this way?
It is a well organized tour with the independence of a rental car and self-catering house. While Untourists have these freedoms, there is always full support when needed. The local hosts (such as myself) are well experienced in the tourist trade so there is a wealth of local and practical knowledge available. And if people have questions about the driving or navigating, I am here to help. I can give practical help and in depth advice and suggestions for all there is to see and do in the area.
Any final advice for people coming to visit Ireland?
Firstly remember that the welcome in Ireland is genuine. People are always happy to help with directions and advice. Just ask! Besides that just some final notes. There is a purchase tax (VAT) refund scheme operating in Ireland. This is only for items that you are going to take out of the country. Gas is sold by the liter and not by the gallon. Finally be sure to go to a local pub and enjoy the craic (Irish for having a great time)! Ireland is a wonderful place to visit.