As most Historic City News readers know, I thoroughly enjoy sharing my Gullah Geechee history. Our “Gullah Geechee Corridor and the East Coast Greenway” film, from Hankerson-Henry Productions, tells that story; connecting tourism, cultural heritage, and cycling back to travel and tourism in St. Johns County through Rails to Trails, the Sea Island Loop, and the East Coast Greenway.
It’s also a not too well-kept secret (because I’m equally loud and proud of the fact) that I am also Irish, Scottish and English. As I write this, I am in Ireland on business for a new cycling film project and felt compelled to put pen to paper about this trip as I find myself once again at the intersection of tourism, my cultural heritage, and cycling.
First, and foremost we were blessed to have sunny weather daily and were blessed to have an awesome tour guide with Exclusive Irish Tours and Paddy Wagon in Dublin. Our tour guide was so thorough, he mesmerized us all with his knowledge of Irish history, geography, and the Irish people — some of whom immigrated to America and contributed significantly to our culture and history.
One can hardly think of green and not associate it with Ireland, although for me and my Hankerson-Henry Productions film team, it also recalls our own East Coast Greenway back home in Florida. Here in Ireland, it’s easy to see green. As I travel along the rugged Irish coast of Valencia Island, down to Watertown, and Waterville, or take in the pastoral beauty of the quaint farming communities of Kelly and Cork, beautiful shades of green are everywhere.
Green is also the color of life and growth, so while the roots of Irelands’ cities are old and deep, their urban centers are as contemporary as ever. Ireland’s notable cities are thriving with engaged businesses and globally recognized brands like Waterford Crystal.
As for the people, whether city or country folk, the Irish enjoy a favorable reputation as a warm and welcoming culture. I have especially noticed on this trip, the thoughtful, caring nature and authenticity of the Irish people; as refreshing and pleasing as the tall pint of tasty Guinness I also enjoyed.
What is most striking to me is that the enthusiasm for cycling in Ireland is undeniable. The Irish love to ride bicycles — it really is all the rage to ride bikes via the countryside, side streets, and trails for both recreation and alternative transportation. Students cycle to school. Parents cycle to work. Parents and children cycle as a family in the evenings and on weekends.
Ireland not only has focused on cycling safety, but also on boosting cycling tourism; including organizing bicycle tours throughout the country, as well as promoting cycling tourism to America and other European nations. The International cycling community is embraced with Irish enthusiasm and provides a wonderful opportunity to foster travel from Ireland, the UK, and Europe to Florida and our growing network of cycling trails and tourism.
“I’m hopeful Florida, and our elected officials, realize there is no box. Hankerson-Henry Productions will continue to pursue our dreams with more films,” Hankerson told Historic City News. “We will continue to drive more traffic to Florida via cycling and connecting to the East Coast Greenway, as we have for the last 20 years.”