Cultural Roadmapp is an Irish road trip app with a difference. Its focus is the Wild Atlantic Way and its creator, Deborah Schull, says it takes curious tourists to places, both literally and imaginatively, that other travel apps don’t reach.
“When the Wild Atlantic Way was launched in 2014, I was struck by the fact that a hands-free, GPS-enabled audio guide could turn this classic road trip into an exciting cultural adventure by freeing motorists from the visual distractions of mobile apps. standard travel and creating an immersive experience of local culture and heritage in real time, not just when reaching a destination point,” says Schull.
Having spent much of his career writing audio guides and apps for libraries and museums across the United States, including the Smithsonian Institution and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, Schull knows a thing or two about writing. captivating commentary for places of interest. She also has a deep connection to Ireland, having gone to school here as a teenager.
For many years she wanted to create a travel guide that would do justice to the depth and breadth of Irish culture and music, and in 2017 she created Cultural Roadmapp to bring her idea to life with a business partner and traditional musician, ethnomusicologist and ethnographer, Léa Bernini Cronin. The company’s first four-part guide to the Wild Atlantic Way (with Co Clare) has already been launched and guides for Cork/Kerry, Galway/Mayo and Sligo/Donegal are on the way once funding to complete them has been received. been obtained. .
“We’re taking old traditions, creating something new out of it, and making it available on a massive scale,” says Schull. “Just listening to the user helps preserve stories and traditions that might otherwise disappear. We see ourselves at the intersection of digital, culture, heritage, innovation and tourism and unlocking what each region has to offer. No other app comes close to what we do. »
The company’s guides cater to tourists who want more than a superficial experience of Ireland. “Tourists seeking an authentic connection with local people and immersion in local culture are the fastest growing group in the tourism industry and our apps aim to provide them with the deep cultural heritage context they seek. “, says Schull.
This meant covering far more ground than traditional audio travel guides, so tours include references to literature, agriculture, dance history, folklore, geography, conservation , scientific invention, botany, archeology and poetry, as well as recommendations on what to do, where to eat, sleep, shop, listen to music and explore.
“Most audio guides feature a single voice telling listeners to look left or right while offering dry facts about history and geography. We tell stories. Each of our tours is like a mini audio documentary” , explains Schull.
“We employ a unique hybrid methodology combining ethnographic fieldwork [the academic method of capturing oral histories] with high entertainment and production values, including music and sound effects,” she adds. “We use award-winning professionals to write the narrative and internationally renowned Indigenous artists to read it.”
Cultural Roadmapp is based in Clare, and Schull recently joined the RDI (research, development and innovation) coworking center in Killorglin, Co Kerry. The app is free to download on Apple and Android, and eventually the business will generate revenue through a mix of commissions and collaborations with regional tourism groups and businesses in the tourism sector.
The investment to date has been approximately €100,000 primarily funded by Schull with the help of friends and family and financial support from Shannon Heritage. Fáilte Ireland and Clare County Library and Museum also supported the venture in kind. The company is open to offers from other parts of Ireland to develop similar guides for them, but the concept will also travel and, over time, Schull hopes to expand into other markets.