Photo by iStock. Design by Lauren DeLuca for Yahoo Travel.
Traveling around the world I meet a lot of people who tell me they love their jobs. The amazing thing is that most of them actually mean it. In a world where the 9 to 5 grind is a very real thing, it is a rare luxury for me to be able to talk to so many people who are genuinely happy with what they do for work.
And yet, Michael Crawley seemed happier than the rest.
I first met Crawley, the managing director of Mór Active Tours, when he took me on a spin around Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way in 2014. Together we surfed the waves of Sligo, kayaked Ireland’s only fjord, and climbed the famed Croagh Patrick mountain.
Just surfing in Sligo in the middle of October. NBD. (Photo: Michael Crawley)
Crawley’s lopsided smile was so infectious that over a pint one evening I asked him what it was that made him so darn happy all of the time.
“Some would describe my job as heaven and others would say it’s truly mad, but I must say I’ve always looked upon what I do as my kind of paradise in which my office is the outdoors,” Crawley told me. “I get to experience adventure in all shapes and forms in the most incredible places around this beautiful planet, and in doing so I get to meet amazing people who simply wish to be inspired or discover something unique that they will cherish for the rest of their lives.”
Making new friends on top of the mythical Croagh Patrick. (Photo: Michael Crawley)
Crawley oversees everything that goes into Mór Active Tours, which stands for Mountain Ocean River Active, and has a double meaning since all of the tours encourage people to be as active as possible and Mór Active in Gaelic language means BIG Active.
Over a few more pints, I learned what it takes to run one of the most adventurous tour operations in Ireland and what it’s like to have one of the most beautiful countrysides in the world as your office.
Most things in Ireland get done over a few pints. (Photo: Jo Piazza)
Yahoo Travel: How do you even get a job like this?
Michael Crawley: As a young 17-year-old boy I headed across the Irish Sea to the U.K. in order to study leisure and tourism management, which forged my interest in the whole adventure travel industry.
However, it wasn’t until returning to Ireland after many years of traveling the globe experiencing new cultures that I truly discovered my love for guiding in the great outdoors.
I remember that day very clearly. It all came about after climbing my first mountain on the wild coastal landscapes of Cahersiveen, which is located on the Ring of Kerry. I stood at its summit and was immediately blown away by the sheer beauty that I saw before my eyes. I quickly realized that this is how I wanted to live my life and in doing so help others to experience it also.
Crawley on the job. (Photo: Mór Active Tours)
What is an average day like for you?
It is very dependent on the time of year. So one minute you could find me on an adventure jumping off the side of a cliff, kayaking out to a 6th century monastery or equally sitting in my comfortable office chair responding to client emails and organizing tours. I enjoy the mixture as it gives you an all-round
understanding of an adventure experience from start to finish.
What do you love about your job?
I would have to say it is a mixture of meeting wonderful people, seeing nature in all its glory, and knowing that around the next adventure corner there will always be an unexpected surprise. I am lucky enough to have met incredible people who have throughout the years inspired me with their great
stories, surprised themselves with their own determination, and been able to watch the sheer joy and happiness in their faces as they overcome a challenge that they thought they couldn’t possible do. Combine that with experiencing all this in beautiful nature and with the added element of surprise makes me a very lucky man.
Every single day with Mór Active Tours is more active than the last. (Photo: Jo Piazza)
Is there anything you don’t like?
Luckily I am naturally a positive person so I wake up each day looking forward to the next adventure and with whom I will get to share this unique experience.
What advice would you give to kids who want to be you when they grow up?
Follow your dreams and always believe in yourself. To become a good guide, I think you must be dedicated, willing to learn, gain experience and training in all types of conditions, and above all you must be sincere and enjoy being with people.
What are the three unexpectedly cool things to see in Ireland.
I am biased towards our spectacular scenery and beautiful nature. So my top three unexpected highlights would be as follows:
1. Ireland’s wild Atlantic coastline. Here you can watch waves crashing in upon golden shores, which will make you feel alive and in awe of nature.
Taking in the Wild Atlantic Way. (Photo: Michael Crawley)
2. Slea Head drive on the Dingle Peninsula. You have to see the sheer dramatic cliffs and spectacular views of the Great Blasket Islands. It is a unique setting where landscapes collide in harmony with its wild and untamed Gaelic spirit.
3. Bray Head on the Ring of Kerry. Here you can take a mesmerizing walk along one of Ireland’s most southerly points and gaze out upon the wild Atlantic towards the majestic Skellig Islands. You can visit a 19th century Martello tower, which was built during the Napoleonic wars, and if you’re lucky you may also be able to see some whales passing the headland in the water below. Truly breathtaking.
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