I ditched my techie career to be a city tour guide

Dara Burke documents his career journey, from working in the world of tech, to being a tour guide in Cork city
I ditched my techie career to be a city tour guide

Tour guide Dara Burke, centre, at the Bewick Fountain in Cork city

AFTER backpacking across the globe for the best part of a decade - including living in South Korea for seven years - I came home and took up work with a multi-national as an engineer.

I soon came to the conclusion, however, that cubicle-life wasn’t for me.

So, after many years as a tech entrepreneur. I recently bit-the-bullet and transitioned into life as a tour guide. I now happily run the successful Rebel City Tour, the Cork walking tour.

My background in tech

I’ve spent most of my life in tech. I was working remotely for a Google Ads marketing firm in Dublin when the bitcoin-bubble burst, causing the company to shut its doors shortly preceding the mass-layoffs in tech.

I think it’s fair to say that tech is one of my great passions; I started off as a web developer and software engineer, then I kind of migrated into digital marketing, with a healthy dose of design and web admin work thrown into the mix. I now specialise in tourism on the web.

Personally, I find the mental stimulation of constantly learning is extremely rewarding. Plus, the ability to build and grow something from the ground up, is also very satisfying.

I was lucky enough to get an undergraduate degree in Electronic and Electrical Engineering from UCC. I then followed that up with a hdip in Digital Marketing. I also completed a postgrad in business school this year.

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I ran a small web company in Korea which gave me the funds to travel the world. So, I kind of fell back into entrepreneurialism in my home city of Cork.

Dara Burke
Dara Burke

My other great passion, of course, was travelling and meeting other globetrotters. So, when I got the opportunity to combine the two, I jumped at the chance.

More storyteller than historian

Although, I’ve always loved culture and history - Cork city culture and history especially - I’m not a historian, so I make the Rebel City Tour of Cork about the stories of heroes and villains from Cork city’s history. On both sides of the divide.

Essentially, I’m a storyteller at heart.

The Rebel tour features everything from Cork’s most tragic love story, to the sisters who were in charge of the intelligence operation in Cork city during the War of Independence, to an assassination of the police commissioner on the South Mall.

There’s something for everyone on this walking tour of Cork. Lots of my guests come from the UK, so I’m careful to give both sides of the story of the struggle for independence.

I find that having a tech background helps in digesting large amounts of historical information and also with getting the word out online.

Many of the stories have universal themes, for example, the insanity of war, the futility of revenge and the bravery of children. The messages are just as relevant today as they were more than 100 years ago.

How the tour got started

The Rebel City Tour started as an IT project. It quickly became apparent that there was the demand for an in-person tour in Cork city.

I would describe myself as a tour guide at the moment. However, most of the work is done online.

I hand-coded the website, I handle the web marketing, graphic design, sales and Google-ranking work myself. As well as doing the books and managing the day-to-day admin tasks such as the ‘I Cork’ email newsletter. I also run the tours.

I recently added the Rebel’s Guide to Cork; a handy online map containing every attraction and thing to do in the city to the website - RebelCityTour.com.

I hope to take on help with the tour in the near future and expand to other tours, cities and revenue channels, for example, audio tours and merchandise.

Taking the tour

This Cork city tour is for anyone with an interest in Cork city history and culture. Especially guests who’d like to understand how the story of Cork and Corkonians unfolds.

The tour is also for anyone who wishes to pass the time in the city in an entertaining and educational way.

Bookings are taken ahead of time. Prices for the 90-minute tour starts at €15 per guest, with children under 12 accompanied by an adult going free.

For more information, check our website here or email me at info@rebelcitytour.com

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