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Alex Girardi grew up on the outskirts of a small rural village in County Clare. Being surrounded by nothing but woodland, fields, lakes and rivers, he naturally developed a passion and love for everything outdoors. Regular trips to various beaches, mountains and forests throughout Ireland only enhanced his interest.

He would spend his summers in Italy with his Italian relatives, exploring the mountainous regions surrounding Milan and Lake Como and indulging on all the free, delicious, Italian food his family would offer him.

Alex - Hillwalk Tours Walking Holidays

Ann O’ Grady grew up in a small village in Co. Clare, on a picturesque farm surrounded by mountains and nature.

Ann - Hillwalk Tours Walking Holidays

Anthony Barrett grew up on a Farmhouse B&B in Mayo in the West of Ireland.

After completing a Master’s Degree in Business Studies in University he spent 15 months travelling the world in search of the best sights, experiences and football stadiums it had to offer.

Anthony Barrett - Head of Operations and Sales - Hillwalk Tours Limited

Camille Binaud grew up in a small village in the heart of the French Alps between Chamonix and Annecy. From a young age, she used to spend her holidays striding across the mountain paths in summer and riding down the hills with her skis during the winter.

Living in one of the most touristic regions of France, she naturally focused her studies in Tourism Management. She wanted to show the wonders of her region to the whole world!

After working for tour operators in Switzerland, she decided that she would like to have some more international experiences.

Camille - Hillwalk Tours Walking Holidays

Charlotte Rufie grew up in the south-west of France, between the rolling hills of the Aveyron countryside and the sandy beaches of the Landes coast.

Annual family holidays were often spent exploring other regions of France; however it did not take long for her to want to venture further. From her early teenage years, Charlotte developed a passion for the English language and English-speaking countries, and started spending a few weeks a year in the U.K. and the U.S.A on language study holidays.

At university she then decided to study English, and it was by a twist of fate that she set off for Ireland in 2008, as part of the Erasmus exchange programme. Unexpectedly, while she did not know much about Ireland, she fell in love with the country, its culture, music, natural heritage, and more than anything, the sense of humour and friendliness of the people. So much so that she decided to come back in 2010, first working in a hotel as part of a university placement and then completing a Master’s degree in Business Management at NUI Maynooth.

Charlotte Rufie - Hillwalk Tours

Eimear O’Connor grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and from an early age recognised her love of travel, and big cities!

At 18, she headed to London to complete a degree in Business Studies, and on completion jumped at the opportunity to take a sponsorship to Boston College, USA to study International Export Marketing.

Sailing down the Charles River one day, Eimear decided that a year just wasn't enough and stayed in the States. She moved to New York City, residing there for the next five years.

The buzz of the city, the diversity, the amazing cultural treats, and of course the East Village, have left a lasting passion and impression on Eimear. While working hard as a Conference Director, Eimear also found time to travel – from San Francisco to Miami to Bermuda and the Caribbean – she certainly got to see a lot!

Ten years later, with the “itchy feet” soothed, Eimear moved back to Ireland, settling in Galway – impressed by its vibrancy, culture and traditions. Here she worked in HR, specialising in European employment law, until she decided to take a break to spend time with her young family. Eimear is married to Padraig - a Galway man, and they have 3 girls; Brianna, Emily and Grace.

Hauke* Steinberg is originally (i.e. a loooong time ago) from Schleswig-Holstein in the very north of Germany - and seems to have been destined to work with Hillwalk Tours.

* Hauke is pronounced as in 'HOW CA(n) you not pronounce that?!'

From 1991, Hauke studied such fascinating subjects as Geography, Zoology and Landscape Ecology at Kiel University, on the Baltic Sea. In 1996, he moved to Ireland to study, drink, play music, and later also work at Trinity College Dublin.

After college, he was first working for an engineering company for a number of years before deciding to try something new. He had been almost everywhere in Ireland and knew the country better than most who are born there. So he started working as a tour guide and showed tourists the beauty and secrets of Ireland. By now, it’s hard to find a place in Ireland Hauke hasn't been to.

At that time, he also started training as a trail inspector with the National Trails Office of Ireland. In this role he was responsible for the standards and quality of the trails and loop walks our customers are walking on when they come to Ireland. Thanks Hauke!

Hauke discovered his love for the outdoors while studying and later working at Trinity College Dublin in the 1990's. With the Wicklow Mountains on the doorstep of Dublin, it was easy to join a walking club and go on regular hikes in the hills. These regular walks continued through the years and he even helped to run an ‘After Office Walking Club’ at work.

Over the years, Hauke has travelled not just all over Ireland but all over the world and he has hiked in Scotland, Europe, Africa, South America, Alaska and Japan. In particular, his travels in South America and Alaska developed his interest in landscape and wildlife photography.

Photography has developed into more than a hobby for Hauke. He is an accomplished, award winning landscape and nature photographer and his main photographic interest lies in landscape and nature photography. Hauke's aim is to create compelling and inspiring images of familiar and unfamiliar scenes, places and creatures. You can have a look at his photos at www.haukesteinberg.com

James Byrne grew up on a farm in Kilkenny in the South-East of Ireland.

After studying Business and French in university, he spent nine months in Quebec teaching English.

There followed a brief flirtation with journalism. This ended when he noticed that using his press pass to gain free entry to sports events was proving more enjoyable than actually reporting on them.

James Byrne - Managing Director - Hillwalk Tours Limited

Luisa Golz grew up in a small town called Waltrop in the industrial Ruhr area in Germany. With her parents, her brother and her sister she enjoyed many holidays abroad.

When her brother returned from a school exchange program in Alaska, Luisa also got the travel bug. As she wanted to improve her English (and had watched a lot of Riverdance), she chose Ireland and spent six months as an exchange student in County Tipperary.

Luisa - Sales & Operations - Hillwalk Tours Ltd

Luisa was fascinated by the friendliness of the people, Irish music and dance, and most of all she loved the varied and beautiful landscape of Ireland.

 

Misja Weesjes was born in the Netherlands, and moved to Ireland when she was 13. She spent the remainder of her childhood between the two countries, spending summers camping in the Netherlands and Europe with her father and brothers, and the rest of the year running wild in Galway.

Misja _ Walking _ Ireland

At 18 she moved back to the Netherlands for a year to study hospitality, but the lure of both the wild open spaces of the West of Ireland, and her family proved too much and she moved back to Galway which has been her home since.

As well as rearing her own little family, Misja went back to college and gained a Degree and a Masters in English Philosophy and Writing. She has since worked in a variety of jobs from sales to facilitating community drum classes and creativity workshops.

Nóirín Gillespie grew up in Galway on the west coast of Ireland, beside the sea, where she eventually returned to settle down.

Nóirín comes from a long line of Scouts and Girl Guides so her interest in the great outdoors stems from a young age.

One of her most vivid early memories involves camping in Sweden and Denmark as a child and swimming in the sea in the middle of the night under the midnight sun. Despite having travelled all over Europe she only recently ventured outside on a trip to Rio.

Nóirín has a degree in German and Sociology and further diplomas and certificates in Business, Training & Education and HR Management. Spending an Erasmus year in Cologne in Germany was the highlight of her university experience.

Nóirín has been involved in the tourism industry and in bringing people to Ireland for a number of years. With this experience and an interest in sustainable, green industries in Ireland, joining Hillwalk Tours was a natural progression for her.

Rebekka Hafner-Toone was born in Yorkshire, North England but grew up in a little village near Munich in Bavaria, South Germany. (She’s still a huge fan of Bayern Munich!).

Growing up she spent a lot of time on her nanny's farm and outdoors, going for walks in the nearby forest. From an early age she visited the Alps and the historical cities of Bavaria with her family. She soon recognised her love for traditions and hospitality while working in beer gardens and local festivals.

Her hometown is twined with Naas in Kildare and this brought Rebekka to Ireland. She first travelled with the marching band of her hometown and then came back every summer travelling the country and enjoying the breath-taking landscape and historical buildings. The kindness and hospitality of the Irish people impressed Rebekka and she decided she wanted to move to Ireland at some stage of her life.

Rebekka _ Walking _ Ireland

Richard Davis grew up on a farm in a rural village in County Galway in the West of Ireland.

From an early age it was clear that Richard had a sense of travel and adventure in his blood, leaving no stone unturned and no tree unclimbed, much to the dismay of his parents who often had to call out “don’t go too far” and “be careful”.

When growing up, he spent his summer holidays visiting different parts of Ireland with his family and often went walking on the beautiful landscape of Connemara, in the West of Ireland, where his father was born. When he first travelled abroad to London, he was hooked on travelling!

Richard attended University in Galway where he studied Business initially and later Human Resources. During his time in University, often working on a tight budget, he travelled extensively throughout several parts of Europe with his friends; exploring new landscapes, cultures and traditions along with seeing some incredible sights, meeting amazing people and experiencing unusual things!

After completing his Masters in Human Resources, he made the decision to leave his home place and moved to Belfast in Northern Ireland where he quickly obtained employment. Here he spent time not only working but also sightseeing and immersing himself in the different culture, history and sights that Northern Ireland had to offer.

Not content to sit still in one place, he spent a large amount of time still travelling throughout Europe with his work, friends or family. When realising that travel & tourism was his true passion in life, he attended University in Belfast to study a Masters in Tourism. Although enjoying life in Belfast, when the opportunity arose to join Hillwalk Tours, he could not pass up the chance to pursue a career in Travel & Tourism along with a chance to move home to his native Galway.

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