RIDING motorcycles to deliver urgent packages for the then Posts and Telegraphs instilled in Dublin man Paul Rawlins a love of motorcycles. Six years ago, he brought this passion to a company he set up with his wife Siobhan.
"From the age of 16, I was riding motorcycles as a dispatch rider for the then Posts and Telegraphs," said Rawlins. "Riding bicycles was a passion as well as a job. I remember when the film Easy Rider came out in 1969. I bought my first motorcycle jacket shortly after watching it -- a few years before I had my first motorcycle.
"I love the freedom of the open road. With motorbikes, you see, feel and smell the open road -- minus the pain of cycling on a manual bike."
Rawlins's company, Celtic Rider, rents motorbikes to tourists from overseas and sells self-drive motorcycle tours of Ireland.
He was forced to delay setting up his company as he had difficulty securing insurance.
"In February 2007, we got a breakthrough," he explained. "It was impossible to get insurance up until then as no company would provide the comprehensive cover required to rent motorbikes to overseas tourists."
Rawlins believed so much in his business that he remortgaged his house to the tune of €600,000 to fund it.
Celtic Rider since has built up thousands of clients, according to Rawlins.
"Bikers are coming from all over the world to ride bikes here," he said. "Most of our clients are pretty well off, they enjoy travelling the world -- and Ireland is on their bucket list. Ireland has a unique calling. There are countless numbers of people with Irish blood around the world -- they have a yearning to come back here, and some of them are bikers.
"It's the conversations and people our clients meet along their tours in Ireland that they remember --just as much as the dramatic scenery."