By Andrew Harper, The Harper Way – Dec 4th 2015
We had the chance to catch up with Con Moriarty, a seasoned Ireland native, guide and founder of Hidden Ireland Tours. Moriarty comes highly recommended by our staff, and most recently has been tapped by Lindblad Expeditions to co-design a cruise itinerary inspired by the rich culture and landscape of his homeland.
The partnership with Lindblad was the “result of lots of creative thinking to embrace the rich natural and cultural history that Ireland has to offer,” says Moriarty. Ireland is Moriarty’s home, and his history runs deep amongst the craggy cliffs dotting the verdant landscape. The intimate knowledge of the area that Con and his team have acquired over the years is exactly what makes the “Hidden Ireland: Loughs and Isles Off the Beaten Path” itinerary unique.
Drawing on the stunning land and seascapes, this sailing will give 102 passengers a chance to interact with the locals, bringing them in tune with the Irish community. As the ship circumnavigates the Ireland coastline, passengers have the opportunity to participate in cultural excursions that enrich the overall experience.
“Ireland’s extraordinary cultural history has been that of an island community at the edge of Europe, a place for so long perceived to the edge of the world itself,” says Moriarty. “That sense of Ireland has profoundly shaped the country and our culture, which overlies a land of breathtaking beauty. A palpable magic exists here that seems to resonate with all who experience it. It is no coincidence that from this small island, we have as many poets and writers that we do. It’s a truly mystical place.”
The National Geographic Hidden Ireland cruise program includes a number of spectacular experiences, including a visit to Ballymaloe House and Gardens on the south coast and at the heart of the extraordinary food revolution happening in Ireland. Here guests have the chance to walk the land with Ireland’s most passionate foodies.
“So many of the places the Orion will call into are of international renown, such as the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Skellig Micheal — a great mountain peak that rises above the ocean and on which are the spectacular remains of 6th-century early Christian hermitage — the Dingle Peninsula and Aran Islands, Connemara and the Causeway Coast of Northern Ireland,” says Moriarty.
His advice for those considering this cruise itinerary? “Leave space for the magic to happen. Step into this journey, and for sure something very special will unfold once you are there! From the luxury of this magnificent ship the Orion, the land and seas and the incredible light of Ireland will provide an idyllic canvas for your wider experience of our people and spectacular natural history. In the company of the scholars and storytellers onboard and waiting to meet us at stops along the expedition route, Ireland will surely enter your soul.”