Frankie Farrell – Overcoming Learning Difficulties at Portobello Institute
Tour Guide Graduate
Guinness is a lasting symbol of Irishness.
No matter where you travel in the world, the Guinness logo will be associated with your accent more than an Irish passport is. It’s why the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin city centre is one of Ireland’s most popular tourist attractions. It’s a hub for Americans searching for their roots or stopping over on route to Europe.
There’s a responsibility on those in the Guinness Storehouse. They’re not just teaching the interested tourists about the process and history of the world’s most famous stout. They’re also representing Ireland and our collective Irishness.
Frankie Farrell is at the forefront of that process.
Farrell graduated from Portobello Institute’s Tour Guide programme and went on to become a Guinness Storehouse tour guide in 2019. He is responsible for leading groups of tourists and individual guests around the facility before teaching them the proper etiquette for pouring a pint of Guinness.
“This year, I took a group of students form my old college, Portobello Institute, on a guided tour at the Guinness Storehouse – something I never thought would happen,” Farrell recalled to Portobello in 2020.
For some, public speaking and the showmanship aspect of being a tour guide can be daunting. It’s not television in front of millions of people but often it’s actually tougher to speak in front of smaller groups. Being able to see all of the faces and all of the reactions you’re engaging with can be more daunting than just working in front of a camera. But that’s not what made Farrell’s success a surprise to him.
“I am dyslexic [but] I love learning new things.”
As Farrell notes, there’s still some prejudice involved in dyslexia, “[In the opinions of some people], gaining a qualification in tourism and becoming a tour guide was not an option for me.” Those who doubted Farrell assumed that the volume of learning and the exams required would overwhelm him. But they didn’t. And Farrell credits the Portobello staff for helping him:
“This was not the case for my tutors at Portobello Institute – they believed in me, supported me and helped me every step of the way. In so many ways. They got me through and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.”
Having dyslexia is just a small element of who Frankie is. Did it present him with challenges other people never had to overcome? Sure. But that’s it. Once those challenges were overcome, he graduated alongside the rest of his class.
His personality and his interests made him an ideal tour guide.
Taking the skills he’d learned in Portobello, then incorporating the relevant facts and stories about the Guinness Storehouse, Frankie understood how to deliver an interesting, entertaining and informative tour. Guiding tours was a dream job for Frankie and he was glad he chose Portobello to help him on his way:
“I would say to anyone, considering any course of study regardless of the challenges they face – go on, take the plunge, work hard, seek support and you can have your dream job too.”