Wednesday 18 September 2019

Tralee and Lismore unveiled as Ireland's top tourism towns

Munster magic

Lismore Castle Gardens. Photo: Tourism Ireland
Lismore Castle Gardens. Photo: Tourism Ireland
Blennerville Windmill, Tralee, Co. Kerry. Photo: Deposit
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

Fáilte Ireland has announced the winners of its National Tourism Towns Awards, with Munster dominating the list.

Tralee, Co. Kerry, was unveiled as Ireland's best large tourism town, while Lismore, Co. Waterford, won the best small tourism town accolade.

The winners, who receive a tourism development grant of €5,000 each, were chosen from a shortlist of 10 towns commended for impressive performances in reaching out to visitors and creating the "best possible" tourism experiences.

The full shortlist was as follows:                         

  • Adare, Co. Limerick (small)                                   
  • Ardmore, Co. Waterford (small)                           
  • Clonakilty, Co. Cork (small)                
  • Kenmare, Co. Kerry (small)     
  • Lismore, Co. Waterford (small)
  • Cobh, Co. Cork (large)
  • Killarney, Co. Kerry (large)
  • Kilkenny (large)
  • Tralee, Co. Kerry (large)
  • Sneem, Co. Kerry (small)

Nine out of the ten shortlisted towns are from Munster.

Also notable is the fact that neither of last year’s winners – Kinsale and Westport – made the cut at the fourth annual awards, held at Dublin's Morrison Hotel.

"The people of Tralee and Lismore truly understand tourism and value their visitors," said Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring. "Ultimately, this shows in the quality of what they have to offer and in the warmth of their welcome.” 

Blennerville Windmill, Tralee, Co. Kerry. Photo: Deposit

Blennerville Windmill, Tralee, Co. Kerry. Photo: Deposit

“In Kerry, tourism is everybody’s business and in Tralee almost 1,000 people are now directly employed in tourism related enterprises," said Kieran Ruttledge of Tralee Chamber Alliance and Tralee Tidy Towns, accepting the award on his town's behalf.

"The people of Lismore are constantly looking for ways to make the tourism experience as inclusive as possible and to encourage exploration of Lismore town and the general West Waterford area," said Mary O'Brien of Lismore Tidy Towns.

The Tourism Towns Award was designed by Fáilte Ireland to promote Irish towns and villages working hardest to enhance their appeal to tourists. 

The scheme "is not about recognising those towns that do best from tourism but rather those that do their best for tourism," said Orla Carroll, Fáilte Ireland’s Director of Strategic Development.

A panel of ‘secret shoppers’ visited each of the shortlisted towns to measure their tourism performance and the level of welcome to visitors.

What the judges said about Tralee:

"The impression and reality [is] that this is a very special offering - more than just a country town but a whole world of things to do.

"The local people pull together for the greater good of the town and are very proud of their town and what it stands for.

"The centre of the town looks well - [there is] lots of colour, flowers and well-maintained shop/business fronts, some old and new."

What the judges said about Lismore

"They say the past is present in Lismore, and that's true.

"[The town is] beautifully maintained, compact, stepping back in time with all facilities and services in easy reach. 

"It has the ability to cater for a variety of visitor needs and interests in a small compact way... It's picture perfect and has a feel of arriving in medieval times.

"The impression and reality [is] that this is a very historical and unspoilt place - where the locals are very proud of their town and what it stands for."

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