Experiencing Ireland Tours: Meet Trudy Carmody

Tell my followers a little bit about Experiencing Ireland and your background as a tour operator?

a woman standing by a monument Experiencing Ireland Tours
Trudy Carmody, who runs Experiencing Ireland Tours, pictured at Spanish Point in Co. Clare. Photo: Experiencing Ireland Tours.

Experiencing Ireland: Discover, Explore and Experience all this magical land has to offer with bespoke tours tailored to your needs. We specialize in family ancestry research and vacations throughout Ireland.

We strive to provide a professional, warm and personal experience for our visitors to Ireland.

Each experience is unique and always gives the visitor a truly exceptional vacation so they can return home full of stories that their friends can’t match.

Guests participate in kayaking on an Experiencing Ireland tour. Photo: Experiencing Ireland Tours.

We offer our visitors the chance to really get ‘stuck in’ and take part in hands-on Irish cultural workshops in Irish music, sport, and crafts.

We truly love to welcome you to our beautiful country and share everything with you that Ireland has to offer and keep us in your heart forever.

How did the idea for Experiencing Ireland come about?

Lots of people come to Ireland on vacation. I have watched them on buses queueing at the tourist hot spots that are mostly overrun and found it really hard not to go over and say if you just go down the road 5 minutes the real ‘hidden gem’ is that way.

A group of guests from an Experiencing Ireland tour walk the deserted roads of Inis Mor, one of the Aran Islands off the County Galway coast. Photo: Experiencing Ireland Tours.

I know there is a deep connection between the United States and our country and I wanted people to have a genuine and real experience.

In a lot of cases, it’s the first time a family member has returned since their ancestors were driven out nearly 200 years ago during or after the Great Famine. I don’t think it’s fair on them just to see the big popular spots.

That is the aim, to help the visitor ‘Experience Ireland’ in its true format and find that sense of belonging that I wish for them.

What kinds of tours do you offer tourists interested in experiencing Ireland and what parts of Ireland do you bring them to?

I offer tours of all 32 counties of Ireland.  What I really love is taking people to the lesser-known places, especially if they’ve been here before and want to “Experience the Real Ireland.”

Activities like set dancing are just some of the things that visitors on an Experiencing Ireland tour can do. Photo courtesy of Experiencing Ireland Tours.

Visit the small villages of Ireland and their people, who really represent the best thing about us. Get out on an Irish farm and see and feed the animals, learn to Irish dance, play an Irish instrument, visit a traditional Irish pub, and learn to play our Gaelic games. Hear and see Ireland in its amazing rawness.

All our tours are bespoke and unique to each guest and his or her wishes and dreams.  This is so important because the visitor is at the center of everything we do. If you can dream it, we can arrange it.

What is typically included in the cost of your tours?

Right from the start, I listen to the guests and their dreams and wishes. It doesn’t matter how long this takes. Planning is the most important part of their vacation, with an itinerary coming together before they leave home.

Trudy at Listowel Castle in Co. Kerry with a guest on her Experiencing Ireland Tour. Photo: Experiencing Ireland Tours.

Although accommodation is not included in the cost, I have some fabulous accommodation partners with whom I have negotiated good rates for my guests and can help choose from these or negotiate others if they don’t suit.

The Rock of Dunamase in County Laois is one of the many locations that Trudy takes her visitors to. Photo: Experiencing Ireland Tours.

From the moment the guest arrives I am at their disposal. If required, I am a chauffeur guide and I will accompany my guests for their entire vacation or part of, whichever suits.

Going off the beaten track allows for local sites and hidden gems and I guide my guests at these stops.

Fee-paying sites like the  Cliffs of Moher or Guinness Storehouse are not included but we can book these in advance to ensure a visit and at a quiet time of the day.

I see that you also offer help to those who are looking to trace their Irish ancestry. Tell us more about that.

This is such an emotional part of my work. I absolutely love helping people trace their family roots and placing them back in the place their ancestors left from. It’s like bringing their family tree to life.

I don’t think anything can prepare you for the emotion and the connection felt when you visit the places your family once called home and learn about the lives they led.

A Florida family discovers their old family homestead in County Laois thanks to the help of Trudy of Experiencing Ireland Tours. Photo courtesy of Experiencing Ireland Tours.

I can come in and help at any stage. It doesn’t matter if you have done some work or nothing at all.

Sometimes I start people off and leave them to find more and then they come back to me and we work to the next step and they go off again, a real joined effort across the Atlantic.

Other times people want a complete family history right from the start and I can do that as well.

Visitors on an Experiencing Ireland tour learn how to rub a grave, a process that is routinely used to help with genealogy research. This is just one of several workshops offered by the tour company in partnership with a local heritage artist. Photo: Experiencing Ireland Tours.

I will help you to create your own personal story as you discover your Irish family ancestry and heritage. This is the most important thing since it’s a very personal journey of discovery.

They say there are 50 to 80 million Irish people in the world, almost 40 million in the United States. We, in Ireland, are very proud of the people who made that journey in difficult times and made a huge difference in the world.

What prompted you to include that as part of your offerings to people interested in Ireland and in visiting the country?

Working as a private tour guide is a very unique and personal job. I really get to know my guests and a lot of them have become really good friends.

A lot of people are coming to Ireland because it is a beautiful place with fabulous people and great ‘craic’ but there are also a lot of people coming in the hopes of discovering something about their Irish ancestors.

When they arrive, they don’t know what to do or where to go, or even where to start.

two men with beards Experiencing Ireland Tours
Trudy helps her customers make the connection between the past and the present when it comes to ancestry research. Photo: Experiencing Ireland Tours.

Irish genealogy is very tricky. As some people may know, we experienced a rebellion followed by a Civil War in the early 20th century and a good portion of our records were burned.

This doesn’t make it easy, particularly if you are searching from abroad. You have to think outside the box and look for other ways to find them.

In the past, people arrived in Ireland on vacation and said to me, oh my family roots are Irish, I wonder can you help.

Unfortunately, with little time it really was hit and miss. They returned home disappointed and deflated. This prompted me to let people know that I can help them before they arrive. When they get here, the groundwork has been done.

So it took off from there. With as much time as people can give me, I can do lots. I can make calls, knock on doors and visit graveyards, (my favorite place to be). I have colleagues all over the country willing to help.

Tell my readers more about the bespoke tours that you offer, including those that introduce visitors to the crafts and culture of Ireland?

Everyone is different and one size does not fit all and likewise, one tour does not fit all either.

a woman doing embroidery Experiencing Ireland Tours
Guests on an Experiencing Ireland tour get involved in crafts like embroidery. Photo: Experiencing Ireland Tours.

It goes back to watching people queueing at the popular tourist spots and thinking this isn’t showcasing the people of Ireland, our culture, and crafts. It needs to be more than this.

People like to visit the ‘off-the-beaten-track’ Ireland. They like to feel they are part of the community. Everyone has a picture in their head of what a place should look and feel like and Ireland has an image too. I want people to experience Ireland and all it has to offer.

people in front of a thatched roof building Experiencing Ireland Tours
Visitors on an Experiencing Ireland tour enjoy a stop at a thatched pub. Photo: Experiencing Ireland Tours.

Anyone can watch from a distance, but you know, nothing beats taking part, and that can mean anything really.

You can experience Irish culture, crafts, and music at unique masterclasses and workshops, where you will learn ancestral skills that you can take home with you, like a tin whistle or bodhrán that you just learned to play!

Guests learning to play traditional Irish instruments. Photo: Experiencing Ireland Tours.

Or even sit in an old traditional Irish pub, having a pint of cold Guinness and listening to the stories and watching the hours pass by.

How can readers of Ireland on a Budget get in contact with you if they are interested in booking a tour?

They can reach us on the following:
Website:  https://experiencingireland.ie/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/ExperiencingIreland
Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/experiencing_ireland/
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/ExpIrelandTours

Read More: Discover More Ireland on a Budget Tourism Ambassadors