Stepping stones to the new… Celtic Ways Ireland
You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.
Sometimes in life you’ve just got to go for it. What awaits you will not be handed to you. It’s up to you and you alone to seize the initiative. Few know the sacrifices you’ve made to get this far. Onlookers never get to see from the inside; you do. Your mistakes do not define you. How you overcome them does! So, invest your energies wisely. This moment is the stepping stone to what you are destined for. Seize it lest the opportunities it presents pass you by.
Waterford Camino Tours has taken us down a long and winding road since our inception nearly 7 years ago. We have arrived somewhere we would never have imagined when we started out. Looking back, all that has happened has nudged us in the direction of where we need to be. Those we shared the path with have been our guide. Last month, we were joined on St Declan’s Way by a man of Irish descent from Australia. Raymond is 86 years of age and managed to slot in his visit to Ireland in between chemo sessions back home. He made it all the way from Cashel to Ardmore, all 115km, and was fresh enough to take in the Cliff Walk when the Round Tower appeared on the horizon. Wherever the path leads, you need people alongside who know how to laugh and love no matter what life has thrown at them, who reveal the depths of resilience we all have to draw on when we need it most. Courage of this kind has no limits! Sometimes, you’ve just got to dig deep and drive on.
It’s time now for us to take the next step and venture out into new frontiers. Over the coming months, our business will transition from Waterford Camino Tours to Celtic Ways Ireland allowing us to expand our portfolio of tour offerings beyond Waterford and craft bespoke Celtic-themed itineraries in the South East of Ireland and beyond aimed at the Irish diaspora around the world. Our signature St Declan’s Way Camino will remain; we’ll just widen the scope of our tour offerings to include shorter walks in mystical spaces around Ireland with a specific emphasis on the relatively undiscovered wonders of the South East.
Times and conditions change so rapidly that we must keep our aim
constantly focused on the future.
Tourism as we know it is changing. Whilst there will always be a demand for the whistle stop coach tours around Ireland that move from one iconic tourist attraction to the next, there is a seismic shift happening in terms of what the new wave of visitors are looking for when they come here. What it means to holiday in Ireland is being re-defined before our eyes; less rush leaving more time for immersive experiences where the traveller stays in one location for a few days, exploring the attractions unique to that area before moving on to continue their adventure elsewhere on the Emerald Isle. In this business, it pays to anticipate and be ready. Standing still will leave you behind!
Our interest lies in slow tempo trails that give people the space to go deeper into the beauty and the story of the places they pass along the way. Each day brings with it the opportunity for something totally different to what has gone before; a mountain trail one day, an old coastal pilgrim path another, a cliff walk, a kayak out to dimmed monastic ruins, even a cycle or a walk around the mystical scenic landscapes of Ireland. It pays to slow the pace down, to detox a little from all you’ve left behind, and return to that world all the better for what you have discovered. The great outdoors have a unique kind of magic; a way of easing us unknowingly into a space within ourselves we may not have known before.
It helps if we have international partners to open up new markets for us. We’re delighted to be working with Brendan Vacations from Spring 2024 as we roll out our signature premium tour offerings to their clients from North America and Canada. Our ‘Greenway to the Falls’ and ‘Dunmore East – to the waters and the wild’ are days that leave the visitor wanting more. We look forward also to extending our partnership with Journeying UK, Tailor-Made Tours and Follow the Camino along signature pilgrim trails both sides of the Irish Sea. There’s a Celtic corridor of sorts that weaves it’s way through the South East and on over to Wales winding through pilgrim destinations like Glendalough, St Mullins, Ardmore and St David’s in Pembrokeshire. Celtic roots run deep in these parts.
Our bespoke tours are tailored to suit our visitor. We listen to them and then draw on our expertise to craft a holiday experience unique to each new tour group. Some may want a little more adventure, others more time for those iconic cultural experiences in Ireland. As hosts, we leave no stone unturned in making sure everyone is happy. Every person matters! We offer a wide range of accommodation settings from our choice of country estates to the luxury of our selected spa hotels to the rustic magic of our chosen glamping pods in the countryside. Nothing better than a sumptuous meal in the evening to round off your perfect day… a real taste of Ireland.
A wise old man once said that the secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new. Socrates’ guiding light points the way today just as it did all those millennia ago. We’ve had to re-brand our entire business to reflect this transition to Celtic Ways Ireland from our website to our logo to our tour design to our social media platforms and to our range of itineraries. Right now, we’re somewhere ‘in-between’ where we once were with Waterford Camino Tours and where we aspire to being with Celtic Ways Ireland. It’s a twilight zone of sorts that will, in time, usher in the new dawn we’ve been working towards. We trust in the process, in the team we have around us, in the life force that makes all this possible.
Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time.
We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.
We are the change that we seek.
Over the past few years, we’ve kept our head down and put the time into perfecting the craft of designing tours and building up a library of experiences that visitors to Ireland can enjoy during their time here. The key has been getting out and about; walking the trails, meeting people on the ground who’ve been making magic happen in their place for years. We’ve loved the adventure. The South East has so much to offer. The potential is there… it’s just a case now of pulling the pieces together into unique tour offerings that will entice visitors to stay a little longer. It’s real, it’s alive, it’s waiting to happen!
Waterford has been at the heart of our tours and will continue to be. From the stunning cliff path in Dunmore East, to the mesmerising beauty of the Copper Coast, to the quaint and magical town of Lismore to the allure of the Greenway as it rolls majestically from the city to Dungarvan, there’s an energy in the tourism arena here that will see it claim it’s rightful place at the heart of the tourism landscape in Ireland in years to come. It all comes down to re-claiming our cherished history as told in Waterford Treasures, House of Waterford and Mount Congreve Gardens to name but a few close to the city and connecting this story with the natural wonders of what the county has to offer. Waterford is uniquely positioned to appeal to the new wave of tourist – that traveller who wants to stay that bit longer, soak in the story and the music of the place, sample the finest of local cuisine, stay in beautiful places, and, above all, adventure out to the waters and the wild. Waterford has it all!
The key to keeping the visitor in the one place over a few days is to tap into the eclectic mix of tourist attractions that the region has to offer. For this to work, it’s essential to widen the lens beyond traditional county boundaries. Dial in your compass at any point in the South East and you’re within an hours drive of stunning spaces with their own stories to tell. From Glendalough to St Mullins, Jerpoint to Tintern Abbey, this southern corner of Ireland offers beauty and mystery in abundance. Add in Kayaking at Baginbun Beach in South Wexford or along the River Barrow in Graignamanagh or extend your adventure across the Munster Vales and you’ve got all the ingredients you need to craft tours here that will be a match for anywhere on this island. It’s time to believe in all that this corner of Ireland’s Ancient East has to offer visitors from near and far. It’s time to join the dots!
As you start to walk on the way, the way appears.
The way will become clear as we walk it. The path may change but the journey stays the same. We’ve just got to trust our inner compass. It has led us this far, it will guide us the rest of the way home.
Dr Phil and Elaine will roll out our Celtic Ways Ireland tour offerings from Spring 2024. We tailor everything to suit our visitor from iconic walking trails to memorable cultural experiences to the best that Ireland has to offer in terms of food and accommodation. For further information on our Celtic adventure through Ireland’s Ancient East, check out www.celticwaysireland.com or email Phil and Elaine directly on firstname.lastname@example.org