5 January by Eleanor McGillie

AS journalists and travel writers we know the value of a professional writing about you and what you do. Authentic storytelling is so compelling because it’s meaningful, relevant and let’s face it – everyone loves a good story. So here’s one about a great friendship which has been formed through a passion for storytelling. 

Live It Experience It member, Mark Rodgers, of Dalriada Kingdom Tours, was in Atlanta a few months ago and he made a connection with a travel writer and journalist – a connection which has taken them on a fantastic journey from Atlanta to our North Coast via Donegal.

This is a journey which showcases the raw experience Dalriada Kingdom Tours offers to visitors and it’s a story which is now being shared by travel writers  ‘Seeing Southern’.  Husband and wife team, Len and Judy, have now written about their experience and have listed  their time spent with  Dalriada Kingdom Tours as Number Two on their list of top five experiences of 2017.

Tourists on the North Coast with Dalriada Kingdom Tours - Walking Tours Northern Ireland

The couple are now sharing their wonderful words with audiences, not only in America, but with followers from around the globe.

In October, Mark was part of a delegation of storytellers from Ireland who gathered in Atlanta Georgia for the Annual Stone Mountain Highland Games.

These were the 45th Annual Stone Mountain Games which attracts clans to the meadows of the Stone Mountain Park in the Northeast suburbs of Atlanta GA.

Mark was there to represent Tourism Ireland and most especially his family, his wife Rosemary, her late father William John Purdy and his father Alex Purdy who was the original guide on the North Coast. His goal was to share his love of this land and his pride in our ancestry and encourage Americans to travel here and experience something very special.

Mark Rodgers of Dalriada Kingdom Tours at Atlanta - walking tours Northern Ireland

It was during this event that Mark met the well known and respected journalist and travel writer – Judy Garrison.

An event at The Ritz was Mark’s opportunity to introduce himself and Dalriada Kingdom Tours to an invited audience. Judy and Mark got chatting and it soon unravelled that Judy’s daughter was getting married in December in Donegal so Mark convinced Judy to extend her trip and come and experience what County Antrim has to offer.

Judy agreed so her husband Len and their sons Ty and Logan came to stay. And, with Ty and Logan being huge Game of Thrones fans, Mark ensured his itinerary suited the whole family.

They toured Dunluce Castle, the Dark Hedges, Ballintoy Harbour and the hidden beach. They also explored the Giant’s Causeway, Dunseverick Castle and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.

Loughareema, the Vanishing Lake, located on the coast road, a few miles from the town of Ballycastle, was full so the tour stopped for a brief period before dropping down into Cushendun. Mark took the family to see three of the famous Game of Thrones Doors and the family had their passports stamped.

Seeing Southern at one of the famous Game of Thrones doors. Walking tours in Northern Ireland

And of course a tour in Northern Ireland is always enhanced when you bump into a few of the locals along the way who are more than happy to share some wit and stories of their own.

Mark said: “It was great fun and we have now made new friends who are more than happy to share our story. I guided along the way and gave them a great insight into our social, economic and cultural history from a personal point of view.

“We explored Gaelic Irish Ulster Scots and even some old Norse words. The geology and flora and fauna were all explained and Ty and Logan especially enjoyed the Game of Thrones stories at each of the popular filming locations.

“We all had an amazing time and have become such lovely friends. Judy’s blog is a fantastic opportunity for us as she will share her adventures with the Ulster Scots and Scots Irish which will hopefully encourage them to come and visit our beautiful shores and explore the land of their ancestors.

“We are delighted Seeing Southern have listed Dalriada Kingdom Tours as Number Two in their Top Five Picks of 2017.”

Here’s what Seeing Sourthern had to say about their trip to the Causeway Coast.

#2: MEETING THE CAUSEWAY STORYTELLER

We have long had a love affair with Ireland. Now, we have a love affair with Northern Ireland. And its people are the main reason.
We meet many people during our journeys; many, as time passes, fade into our memory, but their destination often leaves a lasting impression. For it wasn’t their words that moved us as much as it was the place.

This time was different. When passion is involved, you can’t help but share a beating heart with, in this case, a stranger from another country whose devotion for his homeland shapes everything he says and does. Mark Rodgers has lived his life on the Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland; as a third generation guide to visitors to his country, Mark breathes life into these rocks and passageways.

It’s not simply legends or myths, but family stories of a people who have survived thousands of years, now living on land guided by the National Trust as a World Heritage site. It’s tangible history, he says.

His son Jamie is now the fourth generation storyteller. A source of pride for Mark and an assurance that this history will not die. His company Dalriada Kingdom Tours is named for the old kingdom of Dalriada, recognizing that ‘our future is anchored in our past’.

If  travel takes you to Northern Ireland (and it should), reach out to a local and feel the earth move beneath your feet, experience a community of families that once walked these paths, sense the majesty of the rock formations and understand the sovereignty of the mighty sea.

Listen to the voice of the Causeway Storyteller and you’ll understand where you are. I’m glad to say this man is no longer a stranger but family.”

Judy’s full blog can be found HERE and to find out more about Dalriada Kingdom Tours click HERE

ENDS:

 

 

 



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Eleanor McGillie

About Eleanor McGillie

Eleanor spent eight years working in the south west of England - one of the UK's most popular tourism hotspots. During her stint working with key players in the tourism sector she developed a love for all things outdoor adventure. As a journalist she got to travel to remote corners of the world to write travel features about the experiences of a particular place. Northern Ireland's story needs to be told and needs to reach new audiences. Live It Experience It aims to attract tourists from outside Ireland, people from Ireland and people who live in Northern Ireland but aren't aware of the extent of the adventures on our own doorsteps.