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Ennis Walking Tour – How I became a tour guide!

Ollie in a shop

My name is Ollie Gleeson. I am 22 years old and am the proud owner of Ollie’s Tours. Located in Ennis, Ollie’s Tours offers entertaining and fun walking tours of Ennis. I have gained a reputation for being the #1 Tour in Ennis by gaining many 5-star reviews.

“Ollie was born for the stage and he injects each historical fact he delivers, with wit and humour. He is a born raconteur, entertaining and knowledgeable.”

— TripAdvisor July 2018

Despite being told I was born for the stage, this is not the case. In fact, it is quite the opposite. When I was 4 or 5, I developed a speech impediment known as a stutter. Although it caused me a lot of problems growing up, my stutter would later bring me to a place that would make me a great tour guide.

When I was 15, I got my first job working as the Drive-Thru guy in McDonald’s. Even though I had such difficulties, I still loved to talk. Now before we go any further, you must understand the situation. When I was taking orders on the Drive-Thru, the customers could hear me but could not see me. And so, when I would call back their order to confirm, it would often sound something like this:

Attempt #1: “That is 2 large Big Mac Meals and 3 Hhhhhh…

Attempt #2: “That is 2 large Big Mac Meals and 3 Hhaaaaaaaaa..”

(Silence) After an incredibly long 40 second pause, I would work up the coverage to say:

Attempt #3“That is 2 large Big Mac Meals and 3 Haaa… 3 Kids meals. Next window, please.”

Luckily, I was given the opportunity to attend an amazing stutter program. During the course, I was so embarrassed. I think my face was red for the entire 4 days. I had to walk up and down the main street in Galway City, asking 100 people for directions using a new method of speaking. If that wasn’t embarrassing enough, they had me stand on a soapbox on a crowded street and shout: I am a recovering Stammerer”. I was 16 and although I was so incredibly embarrassed, I have never been afraid of talking in front of crowds since – if fact, I love it.

When I was 19 years old, I moved to Munich, Germany as part of my university’s student exchange program. Realizing I was a broke student, I made a CV and began looking for work. Having very little German meant this wasn’t going to be easy. After butchering 3 interviews (Auf Deutsch) and being accepted, then rejected an hour later by Abercrombie & Fitch, I wondered if I could be a tour guide here in Munich.

I typed out an elaborate email including a few white lies such as my language abilities and my previous job as a tour guide at the Cliffs of Moher, giving 5-star tours to groups of 40 people. My logic was: the person sitting behind the desk in Munich is not going to have heard of the Cliffs of Moher and choose not to fact check. I sent the email to every tour company in Munich and waited.

Radius Tours were the only company to reply and called me in for an interview. I knew this interview would make or break me as a tour guide. It came as a massive surprise to me when I walked into the office and the man sitting behind the desk waiting to interview me, was Irish – Yes he was Irish and he was very familiar with the Cliffs of Moher.

I should have won an Oscar that day. I got the job. The Irish man said “Train yourself and learn our tours. I will give you a tour when I feel you are ready”

The rest is history.