Why Inroads

You'll be talking about your small group Ireland trip for years to come! The sights you see as you travel along the back roads of Ireland will be as unforgettable as the friends you make along the way.


Enjoy this short video about the Inroads Ireland tour experience!

Inroads Ireland Travelers...

  • Love exploring out of the way places
  • Have an independent spirit and enjoy the benefits of small group travel - a maximum of 14 people per tour!
  • Enjoy a travel style that is flexible and open to change
  • Want to learn about Irish history, folklore, and culture
  • See a beautiful scene and want to stop for a picture? No worries - you can stop whenever you'd like.
  • Support local Irish economies by staying in small towns in locally owned B&Bs, guesthouses, and boutique hotels
  • Have an average fitness level and good mobility. Walking up a hill to a fantastic view sounds like fun! And if you're not in the mood that day, you can always opt out of a walk.
  • Live each travel day to the fullest! The itinerary is subject to change to maximize your Irish travel experience.
  • Are a variety of ages - 60% of the people on our tours are between 40 and 65 years old, 20% are younger than 40, and 20% are older than 65. They all share a love of roads less traveled and having an authentic Irish experience.

 

The tour was casual and informative, the group size was perfect, the bus was comfortable and small enough to get onto the small roads. I felt like I got to see so many things I wouldn't have with a larger tour company that would only hit the major attractions. Our guide was VERY knowledgeable. We asked him random questions and he always knew the answers. I felt like I was traveling with friends - I've got the travel bug now and hope to be back for another tour!

Amanda from Fullerton, California, USA

Every day seemed to top the prior day. Loved sitting in pubs and listening to Irish trad music. Best decision I ever made! Life changing experience. Thank you!

Lori from Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Travel Philosophy

Inroads Ireland tour operators Phil Ryan (Dublin, Ireland) and Carolyn Janette (Madison, Wisconsin) have traveled extensively around the world, both independently and through various tour groups. Having always enjoyed connecting with fellow travelers, especially those that shared their love of roads less traveled, they created Inroads Ireland. With their combined passion and experience, they hope to help others explore the natural beauty, local culture, history, and traditions of a place they so treasure.

As a socially responsible tour company, Inroads Ireland wants to support local economies; therefore, our tours stay in locally owned guesthouses, hotels, and B&Bs. Phil has been an Irish tour guide for many years and has explored the many twists and turns of Ireland's back roads. His expertise and his relationships with locals will help make your vacation truly unique.

Inroads Ireland is a land-only tour. You will need to get yourself to Dublin and to the hotel in the city center. On our Trip Prep/FAQs page, we provide helpful tips on booking air and easy ways to get from the airport to the hotel.

With Inroads Ireland, you will not feel like you are on a "tourist route" along with all the other tour buses. You travel in smaller groups (and smaller buses!) to allow you to get off the beaten track. You travel to less-frequented and more unique places that represent all that is wonderful about Ireland. 

We hope you'll come along for a truly memorable, insightful, and fun week of travel in Ireland!

Of all my world travels, this was tops! I have traveled on my own, in large bus tours (never again after Inroads), and my Inroads experience is number one. Our guide went of his way to make the trip educational, entertaining while riding, and great craic when in towns. His energy and willingness to help was outstanding.

Ginny from Whiting, New Jersey, USA

The Story Behind Inroads Ireland Tour Operators

Inroads Ireland's owners are Phil Ryan and Carolyn Janette. Phil is the Tour Designer, born and raised in Dublin, Ireland. He has worked for many years as a tour guide leading people to all corners of Ireland. Carolyn is the Director of Tours, born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (USA). She has always enjoyed traveling starting with family vacations in the station wagon to venturing off on her own to Asia, Australia, and Europe. 
 
After they married (check out the story below), Phil talked with Carolyn about all the amazing places in Ireland that travelers never get to simply because they are on back roads, may be difficult to find, or you'd need a smaller bus to take people there. He also talked about the fantastic small towns that bigger bus tour companies can't stay overnight in because there are simply not enough rooms. After having this conversation on more than one occasion, they had their 'ah-ha' moment while driving back from a weekend on the Mississippi River, looked at each other, and said "Let's start a tour business to do this!" And that was October 2005.
 
Voile! With Phil's years of Irish tour guiding experience and Carolyn's world travel expertise, Inroads Ireland was born. This tour company is for you, to provide you with the best Irish travel experience.
 
Phil has a degree in Music and Recording Technology and has worked as an Audio Engineer and Producer. He also owns and operates a recording studio in Madison, Wisconsin. He enjoys traveling, kayaking, carpentry, playing guitar, camping, and hiking. 

Carolyn
 is a Registered Nurse and has a Master of Education in Health Education degree. She has worked in the areas of neuroscience nursing, teaching, electronic medical records software, public health, and project management. She enjoys traveling, seeing films, reading, puzzles, cooking, camping, and trying new sports.


How did Phil and Carolyn meet?

Carolyn decided to take some time off in 1999 and embarked on a 4-month solo backpacking European adventure. Sitting at a cafe in Nice, France in early June, Carolyn was contemplating her destination in early July. Head south to Rome or head north to Ireland? The decision was Ireland!

Upon arriving at her London hostel in late June, she saw a sign for a backpacker's tour of Ireland. Sign her up! A week later she arrived in Dublin and she began her two weeks of traveling in northern and southern Ireland. On the southern half of the tour, Carolyn met the handsome tour guide, Phil. After the tour ended, they spent the day together in Dublin and Phil suggested meeting at the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris before Carolyn headed back to America. While the Eiffel Tower is an absolutely wonderful place, Carolyn had been in and out of Paris several times on her trip and thought London may work better. 

London it is! A place (Hyde Park Hostel), a date (Aug. 20), and a time (12 noon) was chosen 5 weeks later and both Phil and Carolyn arrived at the appointed hour!

Love flourished and by June 2001, they were getting married barefoot on the beach in Maui, Hawaii.
 

Where have Carolyn and Phil traveled to?

Europe

  • Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland, England, Iceland, Norway, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Monaco, Portugal, Spain, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Switzerland, Italy, Greece

Africa

  • Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa

Asia & Pacific Regions

  • Nepal, India, Australia, New Zealand, Cook Islands (Rarotonga and Aitutaki), Singapore, Indonesia (Bali), Thailand, Hong Kong

North America & the Caribbean

  • Canada, Mexico, British Virgin Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia, St. Martin/St. Maarten, Grenada, St. Vincent & the Grenadines
  • 49 of the 50 U.S. states  - Only Alaska still to explore!

South America & Central America

  • Ecuador, Peru, Costa Rica
     

Community Involvement

We enjoy getting involved and volunteering in our local community of Madison, Wisconsin in a variety of projects.

  • Member, Wisconsin Better Business Bureau since 2006
  • Founders, Rocky Bluff Neighborhood Association
  • Volunteer, Madison Children's Museum
  • Volunteer, CATCH Healthy Habits
  • Volunteer, Second Harvest Food Bank
  • Volunteer, CANstruction, Middleton Outreach Ministry

Reviews? Read what others are saying about Inroads Ireland Tours...

Thank you so much for a wonderful Irish experience. This trip far exceeded my expectations and they were set high. The schedule had the right mix of planned and free time to support activities, fun and relaxing time. Each overnight stay accommodations were so welcoming and charming. Our guides Emily and John were delightful with their Irish tales and knowledge of the local history. I loved this trip. I have already and will continue to recommend Inroads Ireland for anyone wanting a lovely touring experience!

Annette, New Albany, Indiana, USA

I’m a repeat traveler with Inroads Ireland (2008, 2009, and 2014) and every tour has been great fun. The tour is the best combination of guided activities and traveler choice. We had a great group of people on the tour too. I highly recommend traveling with Inroads Ireland Tours!

Melissa, Buffalo Grove, Illinois, USA

I was very impressed with the thoughtful selection of amazing sites that we visited. Their out-of-the-way locations with almost no other people added to the sense of timelessness, peace and awe.

This trip was just what I wanted - small group, focused, well-balanced, organized, with amazing discoveries and background appreciation for Irish history, culture, and what we were seeing. An A+ experience!

Anne, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Inroads Ireland Tours is now our top tour experience for Europe, which includes a Baltic capital cruise two years ago and a Mediterranean cruise from Rome. Thanks!

Bruce & Betty, North Augusta, South Carolina, USA

My tour was excellent. I wanted a mix of historical sites, natural beauty, and small towns, with free time thrown in. I also wanted a group that was small enough to allow flexibility, as well as allowing you to get to know your fellow tour members. All these things happened, so I was very pleased. I’m glad I was able to take my kids on a trip that they’ll remember with pleasure forever.

David, Madison, Wisconsin USA

I enjoyed our guide’s style with his personal interaction with the group, a wealth of interesting information on sites visited, history, politics, culture and language, humor, poetry recitations and readings (very special), music, both singing and CDs, and his spontaneity—buying fresh strawberries for us down a country lane.

Diane, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Every aspect of the tour exceeded my expectations. I had never traveled overseas from the U.S. and this trip was exceptional in every way. I would do it again in a heartbeat!

Linda, Chesterland, Ohio, USA

We enjoyed all the stories and background history of the places we visited and the Irish people. Our guide made Ireland ‘come alive’ for us as he chatted on, telling one story after another. The frequent stops were welcome, giving us a chance to walk a bit and explore our surroundings. This was our first “tour” and we were somewhat worried we might be swallowed up in the masses of other tourists in big buses. The small group was excellent. We felt like a rather large family travelling together; all very nice. There were many personal touches we don’t think would have been possible in a much larger group. Carolyn and Phil always went ‘above and beyond’ to make sure we were happy. They even arranged a surprise celebration of our wedding anniversary; such a lovely gesture. Thank you!

Tom and Margaret-Ellen, New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, Canada

The trip was just so enjoyable, and we loved every one of our fellow travelers. It was sooo much better than traveling on our own and never seeing above the hedgerows! You gave us the vacation of a lifetime, and for that we thank you.

Kathy & Joe, Marshfield, Massachusetts, USA

Our guide was funny, engaging, and a great storyteller. I liked hearing all the history behind a place while we were driving there or before we left the bus, giving us plenty of time to explore what we wanted to while at each site. I loved that he was flexible and willing to stop when the group wanted to and not so governed by a set schedule, except when it was necessary. I truly appreciated the personal care and attention you showed to each of your guests. And thank you for the amazing birthday celebration!

Lani, Montevallo, Alabama, USA

The pace was about perfect, never too rushed or hectic but with plenty to see and do. I loved the places you chose for us to stay in - both the towns and the lodging choices themselves. Everywhere we stayed was homey and comfortable. I really liked never having to worry about lodgings, reservations, directions, driving or getting lost or being late. Our guide was great - he had a fun grasp of Irish myths and legends and helped us understand the Irish people and their outlooks. It was truly the trip of a lifetime and you made it easy!

Eric, Madison, Wisconsin, USA

Our guide shares his love of Ireland and his incredible depth of knowledge in a way everyone can enjoy. He’s an extraordinary host who makes each person feel welcome and included in the adventure. And he’s a great driver! As we watched gigantic tour buses straddle the tender little Irish roads and release huge swarms of eager tourists onto already overcrowded sites, I breathed a quiet sigh in the comfort of Inroad Irelands’ humane sized vehicle and enjoyed even more the lesser-known, fascinating places that we experienced. How did I get so lucky as to find this gem of a tour company? It was a fabulous trip. Thank you very much. I couldn’t have had a better time or better traveling companions.

Phyllis, Los Angeles, California, USA

I really liked going to the ‘off the beaten path places. I also really liked having free time built into the schedule and having choices of places to eat lunch and dinner. I refer to the tour as the “UN-tour” to all my friends because of the flexibility, small group size, and free time. That is my kind of tour!

Melissa, Buffalo Grove, Illinois, USA

Many thanks to Carolyn and Phil for starting Inroads Ireland. It has become the gold standard against which I’ll compare all other tour organizations/groups. I can’t imagine seeing Ireland any other way now and am talking my husband into going with me on the Go North tour!

Michelle, Marshfield, Wisconsin, USA

We would like to thank you for sharing Ireland with us, we had a great trip, can’t stop talking about it!!

What I liked best about our holiday (apart from the good weather) was being in a small group and going on all those back roads where tourists rarely tread. Just loved the countryside, everything was so GREEN, the gorgeous country homes, the friendly people, and the coast was outstanding!!!

Margaret and Paul, Camden, New South Wales, Australia