Tea-riffic idea to cause a stir in Cork

A Dublin tour operator is aiming to cause a stir in Cork in the coming months.

Tea-riffic idea to cause a stir in Cork

A Dublin tour operator is aiming to cause a stir in Cork in the coming months.

Vintage Tea Tours has been brewing up a storm since launching in Dublin in 2016 with its blend of sight-seeing bus tour and afternoon tea.

It has been a huge hit with tourists and locals alike and now the company is looking to expand its operations with hopes high that its eye-catching 1960s Routemaster bus could become a regular feature on Cork streets.

The operators of the Dublin-based attraction took to Leeside to check out potential routes for the tour, which would allow people to indulge in afternoon tea on board a vintage double-decker bus while taking in tourist sites around the city.

The Dublin tour includes the likes of St Stephen’s Green, St Patrick’s Cathedral, Christchurch, the Guinness Brewery, and Phoenix Park. While the details of the Cork route are still up in the air, the test run included the likes of St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Shandon, the docks, and many of the city’s famous bridges.

Ciara McCaughey, sales and marketing executive of Vintage Tea Tours, said they are keen to be a regular feature on Cork streets as soon as possible.

“This visit was us sussing it out to see if we can bring it to Cork,” she said.

Cork, Galway, and Belfast are in our plans for the next 12 to 18 months. We have no plans to slow down. Our call centre staff are based in Cork and they had never been on the bus so we brought it down to show them and to suss out a possible route.

Ms McCaughey said the tours attract a broad range, with weddings and hen

parties popular, alongside groups of friends and couples, as well as tourists looking for an alternative way to see the city.

Jackie Leahy and Sarah Foley of Arema Connect board the Vintage Tea Tours bus in Cork City yesterday.
Jackie Leahy and Sarah Foley of Arema Connect board the Vintage Tea Tours bus in Cork City yesterday.

It has been a whirlwind rise for the company, which was founded in 2016 by Dubliner Karen Nixon. With a background in property rather than in transport, Ms Nixon took a risk buying the vintage Routemaster bus.

Having seen the idea work in London, she was inspired to bring it to Dublin. Now the company has two buses in its fleet, Pauline and Kitty, named after Ms Nixon’s grandmothers.

A third bus, named Molly, is on its way.

Vintage Tea Tours tells a light-hearted social history, with tours focusing more on the characters of the city than historical events.

The information is served with an impressive spread, including sandwiches and cakes. They have ironed out a few kinks by serving tea and coffee in plastic cups with lids, eliminating the risk of a spill when the old-style bus hits a speed bump along its route.

And, perhaps most importantly of all, it is a taste of Cork that is being served. Tea-riffic.

Cork is the home of Barry’s and that’s, of course, the tea we serve on board,” said Ms Nixon.

“We’d love to see Vintage Tea Tours take Cork in the next 18 months or so. With a history as rich and diverse as Dublin’s there’s no reason as to why it shouldn’t be a success.”

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