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Across the pond…And beyond

Glendalough Lake in Ireland.

Bossier man starts own overseas European tour business

Brian O’Nuanain considers himself to be an accidental entrepreneur blessed with the ‘luck o’ the Irish’ in a world of great adventure.

O’Nuanain, a native of Ireland and now a Bossier City resident, has made a business from his intimate knowledge of the Emerald Isle and is sharing his homeland with local residents. “Across the Pond…and Beyond” consists of an eight week course, taught once a week at local colleges, that goes in depth on subjects like Ireland’s history, culture, politics and even the language.

Then, O’Nuanain hand picks the tour destinations featuring what he calls the ‘hidden gems of the old country’ in an exclusive tour itinerary that’s truly unique to his guided tours.

There’s just one question left to answer – who wants to go on the trip of a lifetime?

“It really is the ultimate field trip,” he said. “Nobody offers this kind of experience.”

Each day sees the group on another adventure through the Irish terrain, making their way off the beaten path to see what most tourists don’t know about. Some of the trip’s highlights include a visiting a 13th century castle, the lush green scenery and landscapes, watching a live river dance performance.

Previous destinations included the Cliffs of Moher, a stunning view of the Atlantic Ocean from 700 feet above sea level on a viewing platform; and a stay at the Gouganne Barra Hotel, a lakeside location nestled down a winding road in the southwest corner of Ireland.

Group of locals who toured Ireland, led by Brian O'Nuanain (center) this summer.
Group of locals who toured Ireland, led by Brian O’Nuanain (center) this summer.

Another highlight, he said, is when the group meets his family. O’Nuanain said the tour group will meet his family for dinner at his brother’s pub, The Old Thatch, which he said is one of the oldest thatched roof pubs in Ireland.

“I like to show off Ireland to my American friends and show off my American friends to Ireland,” he said with a laugh. “Ireland is the place where Americans are truly welcomed with open arms. The Irish love Americans.”

To ensure he provides the “ultimate field trip” experience, O’Nuanain decided to leave his job as an elementary teacher in Bossier Parish. As much as he enjoyed enjoy teaching children, his love for traveling will keep him in the teaching realm – teaching adults and inspiring them to see the world through their own eyes.

“I love to travel and I want the people I’m with to have the vacation of a lifetime,” he added.

This year, O’Nuanain went to France with an exclusive group of people who had already taken a tour of Ireland with him. One of those evenings in France consisted of a dinner conversation where they discussed where they would like to go in the summer of 2014. O’Nuanain said there was an overwhelming consensus that the tour would take the group to The Highlands, Islands and Glens of Bonnie Scotland.

When they got back from France, he sent out a message to all the people who’d been on previous tours to see who’d be interested in Scotland for 2014. To his surprise, the Scotland tour sold out in less than four days with a group of 30 people eagerly waiting their next destination.

“They are close geographically, but each has their own unique experience,” he said.

About a dozen of those signed up for next summer’s trip will be taking their third tour with O’Nuanain. Among the group will be Bill and Donna Shield of south Bossier.

Donna said she didn’t know what to expect from the class, but it turned out to be the trip of a lifetime. “I thought we were just going to learn about Ireland, which is part of my ancestry,” Donna said. “It was on my bucket list to visit Ireland so we made the decision to go with the class.”

O’Nuanain said attending the class is not required to take the trip overseas. However, Donna encouraged newcomers to take the class.

“I don’t know who could show you a better time in Ireland than a native Irish man,” Donna said. “[Brian] left no leaf unturned and every individual with us had our needs met. Everybody’s desires were considered and [Brian] couldn’t be anymore personable, happy and competent. He knows the land and knows where to take you.”

Given the high demand for a Scotland tour, O’Nuanain decided to do a second tour of Scotland in addition to his usual tour of Ireland. If there’s one thing he’s learned since his first tour is that less is more when it comes to planning.

“I’ve learned to slow down and allow people enough down time to get out on their own and meet the locals,” O’Nuanain said.

Donna said the most memorable moment of her tour with Brian was every single second of the trip.

“One thing was just as grand as the other,” she said. “It was absolutely beautiful and every shade of green you can imagine.”

Now, Brian’s future is in the hands of his new company. His website (www.acrossthepondandbeyond.com) is still under construction, but will outline the business as well as feature photos from previous tours.

O’Nunain will begin teaching his next class at the end of September and welcomes anyone interested in exploring a new side of life.

For more information, contact Brian O’Nuanain at (318) 658-3738 or by e-mail at brianonuanain@hotmail.com

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