18 October by Eleanor McGillie
THERE’S one man on our North Coast who knows the history of our coast only too well and tomorrow, on October 19, he’s heading to America with Tourism Ireland for a gathering of the clans and to tell the stories of the people of our shores.
Mark Rodgers, the man who stands on the North Coast wearing the Causeway Tartan Kilt, is part of a delegation of storytellers from Ireland who will gather in Atlanta Georgia for the Annual Stone Mountain Highland Games.
These are the 45th Annual Stone Mountain Games which attracts clans to the meadows of the Stone Mountain Park in the Northeast suburbs of Atlanta GA. These meadows and tree lined paths will be transformed into an impressive mix of sights and sounds of a Scottish Highland Games presented in a uniquely southern style.
Speaking ahead of the trip, Mark, owner of Dalriada Kingdom Tours and Live It Experience It member, said: “I am so proud to have been invited by Tourism Ireland to travel to this event. Dalriada Kingdom Tours is only a small family ran business that has been in existence since March 2016.
“We have a fantastic provenance on the Causeway. In our short history we have created a strong identity and we are known as “the people’s tour company” simply because we have the support of the Causeway families to tell our combined histories.
“Our stories are unique. We help our guests to experience something truly special. We showcase our home and bring it to life in a way that makes our guests connect. We help them to feel what we feel, to think like us. Our guests know they can trust us when we say the quality of this guided walking tour is unequalled.
“Our families have been here guiding since the early 1830s. They have lived through the famine (Gort a mòr) when thousands of our people left our shores over a quarter of our population either perished or emigrated in the famine years. The biggest majority left Ireland for a new life in America and the influence which they made on America has been outstanding.
“Those of us who were left behind have lived through the famine, World Wars, saw huge changes in our homeland and have survived to be the race of folk we are today.
“I tell these stories on tour every day. So when I got the chance to travel to America to tell these stories I was overjoyed. For centuries we have walked the Causeway with Americans never believing that one day a Causeway Guide would be invited to travel to America to tell our stories there.”
Mark says he will be representing all of the Causeway families who have been guides on our home before he was.
He added: “I will represent Tourism Ireland and most especially I will represent my family, my wife Rosemary, her late father William John Purdy and his father Alex Purdy who was our original guide I want to share our love of this land and our pride in our ancestry and encourage Americans to travel here and experience something very special.
“I want Americans to discover this land of myth and legend of Kings and Clans and most of all discover themselves in the land of their ancestors.
“During the course of this trip we will be meeting service providers who particularly want to come to visit Northern Ireland. We are at the forefront of the guided storytelling experience and I will use this opportunity to attract American visitors to our shores through authentic storytelling.”
The delegation will return from America on Monday, October 23.
Live It Experience It’ is a group of tourism businesses working together to promote our region through water, air and land based activities, food and drink and great places to stay. If you would like to become a member business in of ‘Live It Experience It’ please submit your information through our online form – Sign Up Here. Pitch your business and meet like minded tourism businesses who you could cluster with. #liveitexperienceit