Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland

"We want you to love Ireland as much as we do."



Country pride and passion that since its founding in 2002 has catapulted Vagabond Small-Group Tours of Ireland and its tour companies, Vagabond Adventure Tours and Driftwood Journeys of Discovery, to become one of Ireland’s premier active travel operators and a leader in this country’s adventure tourism industry.  A committed environmental ethic and a creative vision designed to inspire and enthrall clients come together on every tour to capture the windswept beauty, age-old traditions, whimsy and pathos of Ireland and its people. In 2017, Vagabond became Ireland’s first Tour Operator to achieve Ecotourism Gold Level Certification.

The Beginning

Vagabond Small-Group Tours of Ireland was the brain child of Rob Rankin who had been travelling in Southern Africa with his wife, Amy. While there, they saw the safari and ‘overland’ tours that were so popular and realized that a more adventurous way of seeing Ireland would be a fun and lasting experience for visitors. Ireland may not have the lions, elephants, jungles or deserts of Africa, but it certainly has plenty of great scenery, fascinating history and a few two- and four-legged wild creatures running loose. Just what you need for a good safari.

Vagabond Adventure Tours explore Ireland’s hidden corners on scheduled departures of fully guided itineraries that mix up multi-sport activities, history, myth and culture for 7 to 12 days. Small groups of up to 13 participants journey in custom-built 4X4 Land Rovers and Mercedes vehicles (a.k.a. Vagatrons). The first and only vehicles of their kind in Ireland when originally introduced, they are designed to drive into areas beyond the reach of more traditional motor tours, often rambling off-road to drive along beaches, through rivers or up muddy tracks. Guests can then walk in the mountains, kayak in secluded bays, horseback ride on a remote beach, clamber over ancient ruins, learn about pirate queens and retrace the steps of pilgrims or search for ancestors. Days end at intimate guest houses or small hotels offering up a roaring fire.  See:

Driftwood Journeys of Discovery expands touring options on scheduled departures of fully guided itineraries over 6 to 11 days for clients who prefer a more relaxing adventure that emphasizes the unique scenery, culture and history of Ireland. Tour guests are surrounded by Ireland’s majestic countryside, visiting hidden beaches and learning about high kings, giants and poets while travelling in comfort with a maximum group size of 16. See:

Both styles of touring offer cultural experiences that run the gamut from sheep dog displays and private demonstrations by artisan craftsmen to fascinating political history tours of Belfast.

How Vagabond Adventure Tours and Driftwood Journey of Discovery Tours Differ

Mode of Transport

Vagabond Adventure Tour

All travel is in a Land Rover or Mercedes 4X4 ‘Vagatrons’. They are perfectly comfortable and add a real spirit of adventure right from the start of the trip.

Driftwood Journey of Discovery

All the Driftwood tours glide along in an extremely smart and comfortable green ‘Drifters’ which is either a Mercedes or Volkswagen mini-coach.

Touring on Foot

Vagabond Adventure Tour

A hike every day is usually a part of a Vagabond tour. These can last up to 2.5 hours and cover up to 5 miles (8km’s) on uneven paths over undulating terrain. A moderate level of fitness is required.

Driftwood Journey of Discovery

For those who would like to stroll through local villages, stately homes and gardens and to historical sites – then Driftwood is the perfect style of touring.

Options for Activity and Adventure

Vagabond Adventure Tour

Activity options available on adventure tours may include:

  • Sea-kayaking (3 hours session under full supervision)
  • Horse-riding (1 hour on the beach)
  • Cycling (2 hours in the Killarney National Park)
  • Skellig Michael Trip (including boat trip, a climb up 100’s of steps with no handle)
  • Surfing – for the really hardy people

All activities and walks are optional and require a moderate level of fitness.

Driftwood Journey of Discovery

Offering less active options, including:

  • A horse and open carriage ride though the Killarney National Park
  • Visits to gardens such as Garinish Island, Bantry House and Muckross House
  • An Irish cooking lesson
  • Visit to a local artisan craft workshop
  • Less physical strolls on hard surfaces or good paths to scenic locations and historical sites

Vagabond Adventure Tours tend to move at a slightly quicker pace, ideal for those who want to feel they are on the go, in a refreshing kind of way.

Driftwood Journey of Discovery Tours as the name suggests, take a bit more time getting from A to B, plus there is more free time at certain locations.

All Tours Encompass the Best of Ireland.  For instance, on an 11-day Driftwood tour or a 12-day Vagabond tour from Antrim to West Cork returning to Dublin, guests will experience different accents, dialects, foods, cultures, sports, architecture and micro-climates - not to mention centuries of history and stunning landscapes. In fact, Vagabond travelers often see more of Ireland than many Irish locals experience in a lifetime.

Authentic and Local experiences are created by using native-owned accommodations and dining in locally owned restaurants and pubs as well as through flexible itineraries offering free time during the day in small, off-the-track communities.  Because groups are small guests arrive, shop, eat and stay without disturbing everyday life. Often the most memorable experiences come from unplanned and spontaneous local interactions.

Hidden Ireland away from the crowds brings guests to such hidden gems as the Neolithic Uragh Stone Circle on the Beara Peninsula, Aughnanure Castle in Connemara or the Grianan of Aileach in Donegal.

Client-First Approach.  With group sizes significantly less than most Irish tour operators it means that guides make a point to know each guest’s name upon arrival.  Tours are very personal and flexible and no two outings are ever the same.  If guests have an Irish connection, guides can help source connections, be it a long-lost cousin or simply a shop or pub with their name on it.

Quality and Services that guests enjoy meet the highest standards. Accommodations are handpicked to ensure the highest quality of hospitality and the food that is offered is both delicious and world-class.

Guaranteed Departures.  All confirmed tour departures are 100% guaranteed. Vagabond Tours has never, ever, ever cancelled a tour.

Small Groups translates to personalized service from the booking process to the tour itself. Freed of the constraints of larger numbers the company can utilize smaller hotels and guest houses in some of Ireland’s most remote and picturesque spots. Flexibility comes when trip guests request arrangements for visits to sights and attractions not included in the itinerary. If it is possible, they make it happen. Everyone is involved in such decision making.

Telling the Story of Ireland comes through guides who share several things in common. All are wanderers at heart, but each loves Ireland and recreating the lore and myths that have blurred fact from fiction. The natural world is their playground as they become Pied Pipers leading guests to the next overlook high above the sea’s spray where minutes ago they were kayaking across the bay. Listening to their guests is their forte. Their role is to bring Ireland to life, to tell the local stories while traveling across it, to introduce visitors to proud communities and to weave together all the parts of the complete cultural experience. Guides are also ambassadors and living examples of Ireland and Irish life that visitors now have unrivalled access to.

Creating an active connection with nature, heritage and landscapes is a given, as each day on a Vagabond Tour is filled with experiences that take travelers deep into Irish landscapes, connecting them with nature and Irish culture. For example:

  • Hiking the Dunboey Coastal Walk on the Beara Peninsula or the Glenveigh National Park
  • Clambering to Ireland’s highest burial cairn at the summit of Slieve Gullion mountain
  • Kayaking out into Dingle Bay Co. Kerry to see the abundance of wildlife and sea life
  • Cycling through Killarney National Park’s natural and man-made treasures
  • Horse-riding on a windswept Mullaghmore Beach with Classiebawn Castle in the background

Famous highlights come with itineraries without the crowds. For example:

  • Cliffs of Moher – Guests arrive late in the evening or early morning to avoid the busy times
  • Cliff walk to the Giant’s Causeway, a 3-hour hike in from Dunseverick Castle
  • Inis Oirr – for a more personal experience, groups visit the smallest, lesser visited Aran island

Remote Locations reveal hidden gems such as…

  • Skellig Michael – Few operators offer access to the UNESCO World Heritage site islands on scheduled tours
  • Slieve League Cliffs and the Cliffs of Kilkee
  • Inch Strand - Driving down Inch is for 4X4 adventure tours only!
  • Ballycarberry Castle – Opens only for Vagabond guests – and cows.
  • Coppermines Road on the Beara Peninsula

Overnights are Hand Picked in locations where guests find it easy to disconnect and relax, where the welcome is genuine and the service excellent. Categories include:

  • Remote and stunning -  Away from it all in Portmagee and Gougane Barra
  • Buzzing Local Communities - Fun evenings in Kenmare, Dingle, Clifden, Kinsale and Ardara
  • Something Special - Live like a Lord or Lady at Ballygally Castle and Abbeyglen Castle Hotels, Mount Falcon Estate or Bantry House
  • A bit adventurous - Glamping by the sea at Dromquinna Manor

Local Hospitality may be disguised as a…

  • Picnic on a remote beach.
  • Dinner in one of Kinsale’s finest restaurants
  • Concert in St James Church in Dingle
  • Music and dancing in the Bridge Bar, Portmagee
  • Lunch in McCarthy’s Bar in Castletownbere

Customized Tours and Private Departures can be arranged to accommodate groups and multi-generational families.

Children ages 10 and up are welcome on most all scheduled departures. Most young participants are teenagers.

Sustainable Tourism plays a big role in this company that is committed to a code of best practice in all aspects of business, including relationships with and effects on the environment and the communities guests visit. Few business sectors rely on the natural environment in the way that tourism does, so it is very much in this company’s interest to preserve the natural world. This means constant monitoring of business methods to make sure that the environmental impact is as low as possible.

In 2017, Vagabond became Ireland’s first Tour Operator to achieve Ecotourism Gold Level Certification. Vagabond Tours founder and owner, Rob Rankin, was presented with the Gold Award by Eco Tourism Ireland. Speaking at the presentation, Rankin reaffirmed Vagabond’s commitment to sustainable tourism and the multi-faceted role played by the company. “As a company, we have always been very aware of our environmental and social responsibilities. That we are one of many caretakers of Ireland and have a responsibility to practice sustainability to ensure the landscape, the Irish culture and traditions are protected for future generations and visitors alike to enjoy and experience.” In a recent team exercise, being environmentally aware was universally adopted as a key company value.

High Yield, Low Impact Tourism means that local economies benefit from the company’s and guest’s contributions to local, rural Irish economies (including accommodations, meals, nightlife, attractions and shopping). In 2016 alone, these guests contributed over €3 million to local Irish economies. A Vagabond passenger is a great example of a high yield, low impact tourist.

A Carbon Neutral Company. Investing in the future, Vagabond has gone carbon neutral. On 12 November 2016, in association with the Woodland Trust, they planted 111 trees to offset all 2016 CO2 emissions.

Leave No Trace is an outdoor ethics program designed to promote and inspire responsible outdoor recreation through education, research and partnerships. Vagabond guides have gone through the facilitator training program and work in the off season to continue to develop best practices.

Ireland Adventure Association - Rob Rankin, MD and co-founder of Vagabond, is currently leading the development of a vital representative body for the adventure travel industry in Ireland. It is a professional body not a marketing body. It is a sector which generated €850,000,000 for the Irish economy in 2014. Key roles of the new organization will include promoting responsible and sustainable tourism.

Evolvingwith Accolades

  • 2002 Vagabond was established.
  • 2003 the first employee was hired.
  • Driftwood launched in 2011
  • 2013 a company tour was named one of National Geographic Traveler’s Top 50 Tours, the first and only Irish tour company to be singled out by this award.
  • 2015 & 2017 Vagabond Tours of Ireland won Best Adventure Experience at the Irish Tourism Awards in 2015 and in 2017
  • 2017 Vagabond became Ireland’s first tour Operator to achieve Ecotourism Gold Level Certification

Contact Information

Amy Rankin              This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  /  00353 866494262
Rob Rankin              This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  /  00353 876494262

Vagabond Adventure Tours Email:           This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Telephone:                USA (870) 619-4059

Driftwood Journeys of Discovery Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Telephone:                USA (870) 474 0055

Vagabond Tours of Ireland
52, Newtown Business and Enterprise Park
Co. Wicklow, A63 PA07, Ireland


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Media Contact:      

Widness & Wiggins PR
Sara Widness / 802-234-6704 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Dave Wiggins / 720-301-3822 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Vagabond Adventure Tours Targets Active Travelers For Ireland’s Dramatic Northern Wild Atlantic Way

Win a Trip for Two to Ireland with Air and Lodging Included by Subscribing to the Vagabond Small Group Tours Newsletter

  County Wicklow, Ireland, Dec. 7, 2017 – An award-wining tour company in Ireland invites guests to hike, bike, kayak and horseback ride through landscapes fomenting with history and lore on a new-for-2018 active vacation called 7 Day Magnetic North Adventure Tour.

This Vagabond Adventure Tour leaves few stones and stories unturned and untold along this intimate exploration of the northern slice of what’s called Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. The per person, double rate for the 7 Day Magnetic North Adventure Tour is €1,619. For details see

A similar but more leisurely paced itinerary exclusive of strenuous activities is the 6 Day Northern Ireland Tour featured by the company’s sister division, Driftwood Journeys of Discovery. The per person rate is €1,509 per person double. For details see

The gateway city is Dublin, capital of the Republic of Ireland. Guests begin unraveling Ireland’s complicated history while passing through Belfast and the walled city of Derry in Northern Ireland enroute to Celtic Ireland’s action-packed far north. On the Donegal Peninsula walkers and photographers share the excitement of reaching the cliffs of Horn Head where the North Atlantic demonstrates its grip. Here traditional Irish is spoken and scenes of Star Wars VIII were filmed. This region was also recently named the “Coolest Place on the Planet for 2017” by National Geographic Traveler Magazine.  

Poet William Butler Yeats, captivated by this region’s beauty, is buried near Donegal Castle. (His poem, “Lake Isle of Innisfree,” references an actual landscape that he loved here.) Guests may visit the cemetery and the castle after a guided hike to sea cliffs or a walk to visit the tomb of Celtic warrior Queen Maeve who in her 60-year rule had five (known) husbands.

Avid surfers seek out beaches near Donegal Bay. Time is built into this active program to don wet suits or to horseback ride beside the waves or to explore the cliffs by boat. (It was on this bay in 1979 that Prince Charles’ favorite uncle, the Earl Mountbatten of Burma, was killed by explosives set by the Irish Republican Army, casting a shadow on the nuptials of Charles and Diana.)

Constantly shifting history moves from recent to ancient along the Wild Atlantic Way as guests marvel at Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sixty million or so years ago volcanic activity spewed lava skyward that settled into 40,000 basalt columns forever on duty before the waves. Nearby is a rope foot bridge used 350 years ago by fishermen to reach an island from the mainland. The bridge is 66 feet long and hangs 100 feet above sea level and the rocks below. While crossing, visitors are advised not to look down. If they do, they can regain their courage at the world’s oldest continuously operating whiskey distillery in the historic village of Bushmills.

This seven-day tour’s magic includes

-castles watching over world-class gardens

-the flora and fauna of national parks. moorlands and glens

-villages where weavers still ply their trade

-morning walks on Ireland’s holiest mountain

-bike rides along the famous Western Greenway

-museum visits

-kayak outings on sea and river

-playing a prehistoric sport, hurling

-wondering at ancient Neolithic stone circles and Celtic ring forts

Leaving the coastline to return to Dublin, guests pass near where John Ford in 1951 filmed “The Quiet Man” (think John Wayne) and near a site where “Game of Thrones” was filmed.

The Vagabond staff curate locally owned accommodations, pubs and restaurants that help serve their goal of authenticity. In the end the mission is to have their guests “love Ireland as much as we do.” Transport is in a 4x4 Land Rover or Mercedes 'Vagatron' that allows access beyond where regular tour buses go.

Trip Giveaway Contest

Through Dec. 31, 2017, Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland invites individual and referred subscriptions to its newsletter.  Names of new and current subscribers will be entered into a promotion to win a 7-Day Magnetic North Adventure Tour of Ireland for two, including flights to Dublin and pre-and post-tour accommodation in Dublin. To participate, simply subscribe to their newsletter through the link below. Additional contest entries can be achieved by visiting the company’s Facebook page, following them on Twitter and/or Pinterest, and referring a friend.  To enter and for all the details see:

About Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland

Since 2002 Vagabond Adventure Tours has been creating opportunities for visitors to embrace Ireland by walking, biking, horseback riding and kayaking its lands and waters, imbibing history and culture along the way. In 2013 the company was honored by National Geographic Traveler with a Top 50 Tour of a Lifetime distinction. In 2015 and 2017 Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland was named a “Best Adventure Experience” at the Irish Tourism Awards. And in 2016, Vagabond became Ireland’s first tour operator to achieve Ecotourism Gold Level Certification. 

In 2013 the company launched Driftwood Journeys of Discovery that explores in a less strenuous manner many of the same routes of Vagabond Adventure Tours. Itineraries in both divisions focus on high yield, low impact tourism which means that local economies benefit from the company’s and guest’s contributions to local, rural Irish economies (including accommodations, meals, nightlife, attractions and shopping). For details on all of Vagabond Small-Group Tours of Ireland itineraries, availability and for 2018 reservations, please visit or contact Vagabond by phone at (toll-free US) 1-833-230-0288; or (in Ireland) at 00353 (0) 1-5634358.  You may also email Vagabond Adventure Tours at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. orDriftwood Journeys of Discovery at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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PR Contact for Information, Photos, Press Visits: Widness and Wiggins PR

Sara Widness / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it./ Ph: 802-234-6704

Dave Wiggins / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it./ Ph: 720-301-3822

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