StepsBackThruTime BULLET BANNER

My Story

Are YOU ready to open all YOUR senses on a StepsBackThruTime Guided Walking Tour Experience?

Stíofán Mac Cárthaigh (Stephen McCarthy)
Sole Trader & Tour Guide

Originating in the scenic townland of Deelish near Dungarvan, I was immersed in Irish traditions, music, and stepdancing from an early age. In the Celtic Tiger era, I shifted from pursuing a career in architecture to joining the “Rhythm of the Dance” Irish Dance Spectacular, touring globally for two years. This paved the way for my entry into tourism, offering historical re-enactments and guided tours in Waterford and Kilkenny cities.

Driven by intuition, I explored my village during the Covid-19 restrictions, leading to the concept of a guided walking tour rooted in storytelling and Irish heritage. Enrolling in local tourism programs, I officially launched the Steps Back Thru Time guided walking tour in June 2022, receiving positive feedback. With a focus on entertainment and inclusivity, I invite you to join for an exceptional and enlightening experience.

Why did I choose the name StepsBackThruTime?

Steps = the connection to my former life as an internationally toured Irish freestyle step dancer

Back = Time travelling experience to many stories from the timeline

Thru = A very well used specification term I added to the many projects I worked on in my former career as an Architectural Technologist in Dublin i.e. Guinness Storehouse, Irish Independent building Citywest, Hewlett Packard Leixlip.

Time = The allocation of a moment in YOUR time to enjoy and experience this outdoor walking tour.

My core values are Fun, Passion & Intuition

Growing up in the townland of Deelish, a few miles outside of Dungarvan town in County Waterford, I was fortunate to be surrounded by an extended family with a rich history of dramatics, storytelling, Irish traditional music and stepdancing. This enabled me to tap into the abundant talent that has been passed down through the generations of my family. Locally, I attended dance and music classes which allowed my siblings BrendanSharon, and I to entertain bus loads of tourists at Bridgie Terries public house with music, chat, and laughter.

In the surrounding mountains and countryside, my imagination ran wild as I witnessed the breathtaking beauty of the area. I found solace in the depths of the forest, taking mindful moments to listen to the dulcet sounds of nature, watching tadpoles grow in small ponds, or playing among the heathers and ferns with my siblings. Life was filled with both good and bad times, but overall it was fantastic.

My childhood view from the hill beside where I lived (Photo Credit Patrick Kenealy)

During the period of the Irish Celtic Tiger from 1994 to 2009, I worked diligently to pursue a career as an Architectural Technologist, while also engaging in my favorite hobbies of amateur dramatics, musicals, Irish music, and stepdancing. However, the collapse of the construction industry in 2009 prompted me to reassess and utilize my skills to establish alternative income streams.

Fortunately, I seized the opportunity to join the internationally acclaimed Irish Dance Spectacular “Rhythm of the Dance” and toured with them for two years, showcasing my diverse talents across the globe.

Having gained significant experience in show business, I subsequently ventured into the tourism industry in the South East of Ireland. I began my journey in Waterford City, where I was employed as a historical re-enactor and tour guide for the Waterford Treasures, showcasing the medieval museum, Bishop’s Palace, and regaling visitors with tales of the Epic Tour. Later, I transitioned to Kilkenny City, where I worked as a tour guide for both the Kilkenny ghost tours and Kilkenny cycle tours, highlighting the city’s rich medieval history and all that it has to offer visitors.

As a result of my various creative experiences, I became curious as to why such tours are typically limited to urban settings. This led me to consider the possibility of conducting guided walking tours in my own village, where I have resided since 2018. When Covid-19 emerged in Ireland in March 2020, travel was restricted to a five-kilometer radius, prompting me to explore the same route that I now use for my guided walking tours. Along this route, I discovered the natural beauty, geological formations, and architecturally exquisite structures in the area, as well as its potential for mindfulness and Irish heritage. I subsequently identified ten points of interest on the route and began to develop a mind map of ideas on how to setup a future guided walking tour offering to the area.

Recognizing the power of storytelling to convey the essence of the experience to my potential target audience, I drew upon the ancient Irish tradition of Seanachaí (Old stories). To prepare for my endeavor, I visited the Kilmacthomas library and conducted extensive research on local heritage stories from books by local historians Sean and Sile Murphy related to the chosen route. I gathered as many relevant books as possible to enrich my knowledge and provide captivating anecdotes for my guided walking tour.

In November 2020, I made the decision to enroll in a local LTI Tourism trails with Smart Media at Dunhill Multi Educational Centre. This provided me with the necessary knowledge and skills to establish the business that I had long envisioned. Following the completion of this course, I then enrolled in the VTOS Start Your Own Business program to further solidify my project and make it a tangible reality for tourists to enjoy.

In June 2022, I officially launched the prototype for the guided walking tour, and the feedback thus far has been overwhelmingly positive. During the tour, I strive to convey my passion by sharing factual and engaging stories with the audience. The Steps Back Thru Time experience offers visitors a unique glimpse into history, complete with pivotal moments that have had both tragic and celebratory outcomes. It is my sincere hope that participants come away from the tour feeling both enlightened and exhilarated.

Integrating entertainment into my guided walking tours is a top priority, and I make a concerted effort to engage participants of all ages with witty quotes and local folklore. My goal is to ensure that every guest fully enjoys and comprehends the experience. During the tour, I encourage questions and lively discussions on all aspects of our stunning county Waterford and City, as I believe that these debates and conversations are vital to fostering knowledge sharing and interaction.

As a proud member of the LGBTQI+ community, having come out in 2002 as a cis gay male using the pronouns He/Him/His, I am committed to providing a safe, fair, and inclusive tourism service experience. I believe that the more businesses that adopt this national strategy in Ireland, the better the quality of life and overall wellbeing will be for the next generation of society. My business is guided by core principles of Equality, Respect for Diversity, Inclusion, Visibility, Collaboration, Accessibility, and Accountability. I welcome you to join one of my tours at any time by simply booking your tickets, and I will personally ensure that you have an exceptional Steps Back Thru Time guided walking tour experience.

Testimonials

Recent testimonials from dignitaries and Irish celebrities in regards StepsBackThruTime experiences such as

To learn what they said click here.

Credentials

I have been a fully accredited trainer of the Leave No Trace principles and practice since October 2021, and I am committed to sharing these seven fundamental principles with all participants of my walking tours. In addition to enjoying the fresh air and mindfulness moments along the routes, it is essential that we raise awareness about sustainability and our environment.

By promoting awareness and sustainability, we can all play our part in preserving the stunning amenity that lies on our doorstep in the heart of the award-winning Waterford Greenway. It is my belief that by respecting and preserving this beautiful natural environment, we can enhance our appreciation of it, and ensure that it continues to be a source of enjoyment and inspiration for generations to come.

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I am proud to be affiliated with an independent group of experienced tour guides who offer exceptional guided tour experiences to both locals and visitors across all the 32 stunning counties of Ireland. I became a member of this group in June 2022, and as a result, my business is covered by public liability insurance provided by this reputable organization.

Together, we are committed to showcasing the many wonderful destinations that Ireland has to offer and sharing with you the fascinating Story of Ireland. Whether you are interested in history, culture, nature, or simply want to experience the beauty of the Emerald Isle, we have a tour that is sure to capture your imagination and create unforgettable memories.

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Having been an active member with the local Dungarvan hillwalking club since 2003, I have climbed the four provincial peaks of Ireland and many across the continent of Europe in all forms of weather. Elected by the club members as Public Relations Ofiicer (Nov 2009 to Oct 2010), Vice Chairperson Nov 2011 to Oct 2012). Within the club I’ve been actively as a B level leader leading many members safely across the hills and also as a C level leader making sure everyone is accounted for and safe at all times.

Dungarvan hillwalking club is affiliated with Mountaineering Ireland and the ethos of the club is Fitness, Friendship and Fun. Dungarvan hillwaking club has been in existence since 1995.

Hosting two very successful events annually such as the Comeragh Crossing and the unique Cunnigar crossing are a means to raise necessary charity funds for very worthy causes locally.

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Awards & Achievements

Alzheimers society of Ireland (May 2024)

This training is designed to educate you in the understanding of people living with dementia and how to assist in a positive way towards their social needs in relation to the town of Dungarvan.

Fáilte Ireland event (April 2024)

Fáilte Ireland’s new Champions Programme is designed to help tourism businesses enhance their customer service skills and build local product knowledge.

Learn more here.

WWETB Kilmacthomas (Sept 2021 to May 2024)

This course is designed to give you the current skills required today to develop and run your own business.

Start Your Own Business course which entailed the modules :-

  • Principles and Practice of Selling
  • Book Keeping (Manual & Computerised)
  • Digital Marketing
  • Business Administration Skills
  • Database Methods
  • Communications
  • Work Practice
  • Information Technology Skills
  • Customer Service
  • Computer Applications
  • Digital Editing
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Dunhill Multi Education centre (Nov 2020 to Sept 2021)

The aim of the programme is to up skill a cohort of people within Waterford county to meet the demands of the tourism and landscaping enterprises that support Waterford trails network.

Tourism Trails with Smart Media course which entailed the modules :-

  • Tourism Principles and Practice
  • Heritage
  • Trails development
  • Multimedia
  • Word processing
  • Information Technology
  • Sports & Recreation
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