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Our Story

Vagabond Tours was established in 2002; the brainchild of Rob Rankin, who had been travelling in Southern Africa with his wife, Amy.

While in Africa, Rob and Amy saw the safari and ‘overland’ tours that were so popular there. Amy and Rob realised that a similarly adventurous way of seeing Ireland would be a fantastic experience for visitors.

Ireland may not have the lions, elephants and deserts of Africa. But we boast great scenery and fascinating history. Plus a few wild creatures running loose. Just what you need for a good safari. This was an idea for an Ireland vacation tour unlike anything that currently existed.

Rob Rankin standing on the cab of an old Land Rover Defender VagaTron tour vehicle against a blue sky

The original VagaTron tour vehicle was a modified 1990 Land Rover Defender and it escorted hundreds of guests on their dream tours of Ireland. Since 2002, Vagabond has grown steadily year-on-year. Our vehicles have changed a bit too! Our Ireland vacations have also changed and grown as we've learned more and more about our country, about everything that makes Ireland special. In fact, we have developed such a diverse range of tours of Ireland that many of our guests come back for a second or third tour, both on our more active Vagabond Ireland Tours and on our more relaxed Driftwood Ireland tour packages.

 

Meet Rob, the man behind Vagabond Tours of Ireland.

 

 

The Best Tours in Ireland

For many people planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Ireland, it is important to know that they are booking the best Ireland vacation tour there is. We are proud to have built an excellent reputation within the Irish tourism industry and with our guests (and repeat guests) as providing the best tours in Ireland. We even have a few awards to prove it! It has taken years of constant dedication to gradually build this reputation for quality and passion. Of course, this kind of perception is highly subjective, but we think that our constant focus on our guests' experience and our love for Ireland comes through in every tour we offer – it even comes through in our approach to responsible toursism in Ireland.

We've won several awards and been featured in numerous articles in publications around the world. We will never stop exploring our historic island, uncovering its beauty, its history and culture, and we will continue to develop our tours of Ireland based on the ideas and principles Vagabond Tours was based on.

We put a lot of stock in customer feedback; each year, our Ireland tours are changed or developed accordingly. In this way, our Ireland vacation tours are constantly evolving and improving, and it may be useful for anyone interested in exploring Ireland with us to find out the differences between our Vagabond and Driftwood tours. And please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions for us.

Rob Rankin - The Original Vagabond

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Rob's passion for Ireland doesn’t stop at offering the best small group tours of Ireland. We're proud that Rob was a founding member and is also current chairman of Ireland’s Association of Adventure Travel.

What's more, Rob is leading the fight for responsible tourism in Ireland. Vagabond Tours achieved eco-tourism gold certification in 2017. In fact, Rob's appetite for sustainable tourism was so strong that he acquired Ireland's eco-tourism accreditation body in 2019.

Ecotourism Ireland’s mission is to lead education, certification and training of Irish tourism companies ensure Ireland is cared for by the industry that relies on its beauty the most.

See How Our Tour Vehicles Have Changed...

A from-the-ground perspective of the original 1990 Land Rover Defender VagaTron 4x4 tour vehicle for Vagabond Tours of Ireland
Vagabond Tours guest group sitting and standing on an original Land Rover Defender VagaTron tour vehicle with a 2007 date graphic in the top right corner
An original Land Rover Defender VagaTron tour vehicle with branded trailer parked in a scenic location in Ireland; side view
2014 VagaTron with date graphic
A smiling group of Driftwood tour guests pranking around with a Drifter tour vehicle and guide
Front view of a 2019 Mercedes VagaTron 4x4 tour vehicle with 2019 date graphic in the upper left corner

Come with Vagabond on the Ultimate Ireland Vacation!

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Awesome Ireland Tour Guides

Sit back and relax. Your highly-trained local Irish tour guide will lead you on an unforgettable small group guided tour of Ireland.

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Our Tour Vehicles

These are no ordinary tour vehicles… For extraordinary small group tours!

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Responsible Tourism Tours

Find out how responsible tourism lies at the heart of our small group tours of Ireland. We are proud to be a responsible tourism tour operator.

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Off The Beaten Track

Discover hidden Ireland on our off the beaten path tours. See the highlights but escape the crowds with Ireland's best tour guides and itineraries.

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Memberships

We are proud and leading members of a number of accredited professional assocations.

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Meet the VagaHQ team

Rob

Founder and owner of Vagabond. Originally from Scotland but has lived in Ireland for many happy years, he started Vagabond after travelling in Southern Africa and thinking that a more active adventure tour of Ireland would be a great idea. Rob is an outdoor enthusiast and also a keen amateur historian (with an MA in Modern History).

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Amy

Amy is Vagabond’s ‘marketing dictator’ with years of experience in blue chip brand marketing and also with Vagabond. Originally from south Dublin, she left school at the age of four and worked as a welder on oilrigs before meeting Rob at University in Scotland, from were she holds an MA in Psychology (which is really useful for living and working with Rob). A keen outdoor enthusiast, a really fast runner and qualified sailing instructor, not to mention a mother of three young children (four if you include Rob) , Amy has travelled extensively in Europe, Asia and Africa. Her favourite travel experiences include safari in Africa, Italy’s Amalfi coast and the south west of Ireland. Amy twitches her nose when she gets cross…(apparently).

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Larry

Larry came to Vagabond after a (really) long career in public service, which included working in Namibia and Bosnia Herzegovina. His last position was in a public order role, but since joining Vagabond we have completely re-trained Larry and his use of the taser with customers has reduced significantly. An enthusiastic singer and supreme teller of jokes, Larry also has a fantastic first-hand knowledge of Ireland and its past. Larry is originally from County Clare in the West of Ireland and is a keen supporter of their Gaelic games teams, just warning you…In 2015 Larry was appointed General Manager of Vagabond and we are delighted to have him on board in this role. (He is banned from singing in the office, but we can’t seem to stop the ‘jokes’).

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Russ

Russ, a guy that people tend to look up to, standing 6’5’’ in his socks, Russ is a fully trained ambulance medic and is also handy enough with a chainsaw (he has trained in horticulture and worked as a landscape gardener). Having travelled extensively through Europe, North America and Australasia, Russ now loves showing people around Ireland and sharing his passion for, and knowledge of, his country. Russ’s calm and professional style instantly makes his passengers feel at home and welcome. We are also proud to say that Russ was shortlisted by Outside Magazine in the UK as one of the top 20 guides in the world. This makes him the tallest-shortlisted guide ever. Russ was recently appointed Vagabond Transport and Operations Manager. Thus, by reducing the amount of time he is on tour, we hope our guests will have some chance of actually getting into photos.

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Gillian

In 2012 Gillian decided she had enough of being down and dirty everyday and became Vagabond HQ’s first permanent recruit (outside of Rob and Amy). Gillian’s attention to detail and tenacity in seeing projects through to the end is a legacy from her previous life as an archaeologist (though not as mucky). In her own time, she keeps rescue hens and provides all the office staff with the freshest eggs ever. Interestingly, all our Sales and Reservations team hail from County Wicklow on the east coast of Ireland. We reckon Gillian has a secret clause in her working ts and cs that insisted on this.

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Ciara

Ciara is one of the latest additions to the team at Vagabond HQ, having joined us in 2017. We reckon what put her ahead of the other (more than 200) applicants was her answer to the key interview question of ‘…ice cream or cake?’. She is now the first point of contact for our Driftwood guests. Ciara has a degree in Veterinary Nursing and loves animals of all shapes and sizes- which is why she gets on so well with our Guides team! She loves to visit new places and has traveled extensively in Europe. She also loves food (ice cream and cake) and is the only person we know whose laugh can alternate between an uplifting giggle or a rather scary cackle.

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Derry

Meet Derry (from the Irish word Doire, meaning oak). In his first weeks at Vagabond HQ he quickly demonstrated the qualities of the oak (strength and endurance) in his work. Derry has a rather eclectic background. Having studied History and Politics he spent a year Japan before moving to London, where he completed his Masters degree in Web Design. He has worldwide travel experience, and tried many jobs along the way – selling sushi in London, picking kiwis in New Zealand and even cleaning toilets on a car ferry (we intend to test his skills on that one). South America remains on his bucket list, but being Dad to one toddler and with another on the way, he knows he has 25 years to save up for that one!

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Shauna

Meet Shauna, our marketing assistant who has (amongst other things) been looking after the content for much of our digital media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest. During the season she also puts together the collage of pics for our weekly Vagabond and Driftwood Facebook albums. Shauna is not just a team player but a proven leader - having been a school prefect and captained her home county of Wicklow in Camogie. However, she retired from playing when she went to college, so that she could focus on her Marketing studies, from which she graduated with first class honours.
Shauna also has a very individualistic and rebellious streak when it comes to footwear apparently. Rumour has it that she wears her Dr. Martens boots to bed! While we can’t definitively confirm that, we do know for certain that she once wore them to a wedding under the finest of dresses. Oh, she also has a penchant for garlic mayo!

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Meet Our Guides

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Meet our amazing VagaGuide tour guide team. They're the heart and soul of Vagabond!

Responsible Tourism

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Sustainability lies at the heart of everything we strive for. Learn more about Responsible Tourism here.

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