HA NOI — It has been difficult getting back to normal life for Iain McNamara and his peers after their one-year trip through 22 countries.
The first week seemed crazy for McNamara, Chris McGrath and Kevin Cobbe when they arrived home in Dublin a month ago.
A video featuring them performing the traditional Riverdance quickly went viral and surpassed 250,000 views within days after it was uploaded to the internet. The view count is at 530,000 right now.
“Not in our wildest dreams could we have imagined that our video of 3 guys Irish dancing around the world would have created such a stir both at home and abroad. Since the video was uploaded to YouTube [in an early morning] everything has just spiralled out of control,” said McNamara.
“Since the video has been online I have barely left my house as we’ve been inundated with calls and emails from not only media outlets but also people living abroad who have discovered a new found interest in the Emerald Isle.”
The video itself was part of a project by The Wirld, an independent organisation McNamara initiated to promote the nation of Ireland abroad.
He set up a website and got in contact with various schools around the world asking to visit and talk about Ireland. The whole trip, which was fully self-funded by the three, travelled first to Cancun, Mexico and finally to London, England.
“It took about 18 months of saving to be able to afford a whole year [of] travelling,” said McNamara.
Leaving Ireland in May 2013, armed with a round the world ticket, limited budget and a camera, they created a blog in each country they visited, documenting how they promoted their homeland.
Along the way, they visited schools, universities, businesses and homes with the principal aim of instilling “Irishness” abroad.
The quick exiting moves of Riverdance to Irish music against the background of Celtic Rock or Stonehenge made the world a lot more Irish than McNamara intended.
“Riverdance is a very famous dance in Ireland and around the world too. It is 20 years old this year and we thought what better way to commemorate it than to make a video during our trip. Plus it was a lot of fun,” McNamara said.
Hoan Kiem Lake (Viet Nam), Machu Picchu (Peru), The Amazon (Bolivia), Iguazu Falls (Brazil), Villarrica Summit (Chile), Bali (Indonesia), Angkor Wat (Cambodia), Bagan (Myanmar) and other globally renowned spots were featured as backdrops for their’ performances.
They stayed in Viet Nam for three weeks, travelling from HCM City to Nha Trang, Hoi An and then finally up to Ha Noi. A day trip by motorbike from the ancient city to Hue was a particular highlight, said McNamara.
“To be honest Viet Nam really surprised us. We had not expected the local people to be so friendly, welcoming and interested in where we came from. The country itself is extremely interesting and picturesque,” McNamara revealed.
“I would love to return one day. I would like to go back to Hoi An which is particularly beautiful. I loved it there and [I would] maybe explore more of the north. I didn’t have enough time to explore the northern part of the country, so that would be next.
“If we could go again we would definitely recommend biking the whole country. Big thanks to all the locals we met who made it so easy to travel around and also all the backpackers with whom we shared some serious craic.”
The group were also delighted by being approached by Vietnamese in the street to talk about Viet Nam or to practice their English.
Cruising overnight, kayaking on and tubing around the country’s Ha Long Bay were also among their top 10 highlights of visiting Australasia.
Except for a few overnight bus trips in some parts of South America and when they found it hard to communicate with local people, they were relieved to report they encountered no dangerous situations.
Now back home, McNamara said he is thinking about writing a book about their travels.
“I love to continue promoting Ireland abroad, so I am aiming to work in that field in the near future.”