About Ireland Taxi Tours: Meet Bob McAuliffe
What inspired you to get into the taxi business in Cork initially?
I came back to Ireland after working as a hospitality manager in England for a number of years and needed a change of direction for my life.
I am by nature a builder. I look at something and wonder how I can do it better than the way it’s done.
Throughout my life, I actually represented Ireland in a doubles dart tournament (totally by accident).
I also spent a number of years as a troubleshooter for one of the biggest breweries in the U.K. and as the opening manager for a major pizza chain, planning and developing new sites, as well as training new staff and managers.
One day, I just woke up and realized that I wasn’t happy and that there was more to life than pizza.
Driving a taxi gave me a relatively stress-free happy life for a number of years, but as I started building a taxi business, I realized that I was working and not enjoying my life except when I was giving people tours.
Describe what you did in the early stages of setting up that taxi business.
Initially, About Cork Taxi Tours was a very small part of my busy daily working life.
I had contracts with various businesses in and around Cork doing everything from picking up VIPs at the airports, driving children who were challenged to school, operating a courier business using taxis, and delivering flowers for a number of flower shops in Cork, with a growing number of drivers working with me.
I was soon doing more touring than normal taxi work and enjoying my working life a lot more as a result.
In 2012, my partner Janice and I bought Orchid Cottage where we live just outside the historic village of Glanworth.
We decided to create a part-time tour service on the Internet and develop it into a business for Janice to run as a booking agent and with me as the lead driver/operations manager.
Although I had the website operating for a number of years and was at number 1 on TripAdvisor, About Cork Taxi Tours as a business was really born that day and it grew quickly into the premier taxi tour company in the Cork area.
Janice stepped back from the business in 2019 to look after her father and pursue her own passion for making things (see her page Orchid Cottage Crafts on Facebook).
Covid gave me the time to evaluate and rethink my life, the way we do tours, and how to give clients a better experience of Ireland and at the same time give our driver guides a better work-life balance.
About Ireland Taxi Tours was born from that idea.
A happy well-rested local driver gives the client a better experience on the day.
Using professional local taxi drivers from the destination county on each leg means that clients have a different perspective on life in Ireland.
That includes up-to-date local knowledge on the best places to eat, where to go for good Irish music, and any other local advice and information they need while the driver finishes his day only a few minutes from home.
What is different about the About Ireland Taxi Tours business that you run today?
Over the years of driving visitors around Ireland, I always felt most at home in and around Cork, Kerry, and Waterford.
I also realized that there were many other taxi drivers around Ireland offering tours who felt the same as I did and didn’t want to be spending up to 30 weeks a year basically living away from home.
It doesn’t matter how often I visit an area. I can never know it like a local taxi driver and in addition, have intimate knowledge of the local people, their stories, and history.
Think of our company as a hop-on, hop-off bus service and you have a good idea of how our tours work.
We don’t mix clients in our vehicles because they are not booking a seat. They are booking the vehicle, which holds from 1 to 4 passengers in a saloon car or up to 7 passengers in a minibus.
How do your tours work?
That’s simple. All potential customers need to do is look at a map of Ireland and decide where they want to stay and for how long. Then book their transfer tours with us on the days that suit them.
Let’s say they arrive at Dublin Airport at 5.45 a.m. on a Tuesday morning, They're tired and there’s not much open at that time.
However, one of our Dublin drivers will be there waiting to take them straight to their hotel.
We always advise our clients to book their hotel for the night before they arrive so that they can rest for a few hours and leave their luggage without the hassle of dragging it around Dublin until 3 pm for check-in.
What kinds of tours do you offer specifically?
We offer scenic day tours from all major cities and ports in Ireland, as well as intercity transfer tours between all major tourist destinations and multi-day tours starting and finishing anywhere in Ireland.
We can and will adapt any day to suit our clients. Our day tours and shore excursions are as outlined on the website and our multiday tours are planned with clients as are our bespoke day tours.
A typical multiday tour itinerary would be as follows:
Meet and greet at Dublin Airport with a transfer service to the client's hotel.
Spend 2 days in Dublin (to be fair, clients really don’t need one of our drivers while in Dublin).
Spend 2 nights in Kilkenny with the option of doing a half-day tour to either Waterford or the Rock of Cashel on a client's day in Kilkenny.
Provide an 8-hour transfer tour to Cork via either Waterford Crystal, the Copper Coast, Youghal, and the Jameson Distillery, and then continuing the journey to Cork. Or via the Rock of Cashel, the Swiss Cottage, the Vee Drive to the historic town of Lismore, and then finally arriving in Cork City.
Spend 1 night in Cork.
Begin the next day with a 12-noon start.
Provide an 8-hour transfer tour to Killarney.
The Killarney transfer itinerary includes stops at Blarney Castle, Gougane Barra (one of the most beautiful places in Ireland), Glengarriff, Kenmare, Molls Gap, then Ladies View and the Torc Waterfall before dropping them off in Killarney.
Spend 2 nights in Killarney.
Clients have a free day with an option to do either a tour of the Ring of Kerry or the Dingle Peninsula.
We provide an 8-hour transfer tour to Galway via Adare village, King Johns Castle, or Bunratty Castle, all in County Limerick, as well as the Cliffs of Moher, and a scenic drive through the Burren to Galway City.
The next day, our clients have a 10 a.m. pickup.
Spend 2 nights in Galway.
If the client prefers to do a tour of the islands, we can organize a guide on the Aran Mór for them if requested.
Spend 1 night in Dublin.
Provide a transfer to Dublin Airport.
Prices do not include entry fees or accommodation.
We do offer advice and help with booking accommodation and we also encourage clients to buy an OPW Heritage Card, giving them free access to about 90 attractions around the country, including most of the places we visit.
The cost of the transport breaks down as follows:
Service Saloon Car Minibus
2 x Airport transfers
Dublin Kilkenny transfer tour
Kilkenny to Cork
Cork to Killarney
Killarney to Galway
Galway to Dublin
Sub Total €2,960 €3,800
Half Day €300 €400
Full Day €480 €600
What sets you apart from other tour companies in Ireland?
I suppose the biggest difference is that we use professional local taxi drivers and there is no VAT (value-added tax) added to the price.
Again, because we use local destination drivers (on a Dublin to Kilkenny transfer tour, for example, it’s a Kilkenny driver who collects the client), who provide the benefit of their local knowledge, as well as the added bonus that clients are not paying expensive overnight rates for drivers and accommodation, which is usually about €130 per night.
Have you found that your customers prefer this way of touring the country?
All our clients have raved about their interactions with drivers and the fact that they have gotten a different perspective on Ireland from each one.
To quote one client's comment on our drivers, “every day was better than the day before.”
Is this a more economical way of getting around Ireland for visitors?
All our vehicles are branded taxis to an executive standard giving clients a comfortable and enjoyable time traveling with us.
Because we use branded taxis, traveling with About Ireland Taxi Tours allows them to see Ireland at an affordable cost.
My suggestion would be to contact one of the private tour companies and get a quote for the above itinerary excluding hotels.
Even take out the extra days and just get a quote for the following over 5 days for 2 people:
Dublin via Glendalough to Kilkenny;
Kilkenny, Waterford Crystal, and Cork;
Cork, Gougane Barra, Kenmare, and Killarney;
Killarney, Cliffs of Moher, Galway;
Galway, Clonmacnoise, Dublin.
Besides driving customers from one place to another, what other services are your drivers providing that is invaluable to someone who does not know a specific area of Ireland?
Because all our drivers are professional local taxi drivers who are passionate about their hometown and county, you get real local knowledge, including unique stories and history as only a local can give you.
We take you to the places others don’t even know about or just ignore because they are not on the TripAdvisor Top 10 list.
I know Ireland as well as any other tour driver but I don’t know Galway like a Galway native or Kerry like a Kerry native.
Here's a story from one of our drivers:
A client brought her 76-year-old grandmother to Ireland as a thank-you.
All she knew about her family history was a birth certificate dated about 1880 which she sent me. I asked one of our Galway drivers to see what he could find.
Two days later, I was organizing a very successful family reunion lunch in Cliften, Connemara, with their Irish cousins while also giving them the opportunity to take a tour of Connemara.
How can followers of Ireland on a Budget find out more if they are currently planning a vacation to Ireland?
They can check us out on TripAdvisor where we have been number 1 for more than 10 years and staying at number 1 on TripAdvisor for that many years doesn’t happen by accident. Especially as we don’t sell our tours through Viator.
While I still live happily in Cork, we do operate across the island of Ireland through our tour hubs so no matter where you are in Ireland, we are the taxi tour people you can trust.