Ireland named ‘best destination in Europe’ by US travel publication

It’s the third year in a row Ireland has picked up the award from Travel Weekly.

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TOURISM CHIEFS ARE hailing another accolade from US travel sector ‘bible’ Travel Weekly, after Ireland was named as Europe’s ‘best destination’ by the publication.
It’s the third year in a row Ireland has picked up the award.
“We are delighted that Ireland has been singled out for this award in the United States,” Tourism Ireland CEO Niall Gibbons said in a statement.

« Travellers nowadays have tremendous choice, which makes it more important than ever for us to ensure the island of Ireland stands out from other destinations. »

Figures released at the end of last month showed more tourists had visited Ireland in 2016 than ever before. The CSO stats showed an 11.6% increase in overseas visits to the country between January and October.

Despite the fact that the country is now on course for nine million tourists this year, Fáilte Ireland’s CEO Shaun Quinn urged caution and warned against complacency in the sector.

He said:
« However, unexpected events during the year – such as Brexit – serve as a warning that we can take nothing in life for granted and are a good antidote to any creeping complacency in the tourism sector. »

Gibbons said in his statement today that by the year’s end “we will have welcomed about 1.6 million American and Canadian visitors, delivering revenue of €1.4 billion for the economy throughout 2016 ».

Travel Weekly is the leading weekly paper for American travel agents, and some 15,000 of its readers voted in the various categories earlier this year.

In case you were wondering, the ‘best destination’ for Africa this year was South Africa, the best US state was Hawaii and the favourite destination for the Asia/Pacific region was Australia.

 

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10 things you didn’t know about Devon and Cornwall

From the pros (ancient bakeries) to the cons (high radioactivity), make sure you know your facts before making the journey to Devon and Cornwall

10 Things You Didn't Know About Devon and Cornwall

1. The River Tamar is a natural boundary between Devon and Cornwall. According to recent research by Oxford University there is a stark genetic division that closely matches this border, meaning that people on either side of the river have totally different DNA dating back to 600 AD.

2. Forget about leaving the country for a much-needed dose of Vitamin D. Last year, Plymouth Marine Laboratory smugly announced that Cornish seas were hotter than Santa Monica, California, so brave that bikini and top up that tan.

3. Kernowek, the Cornish language, has had less impact on English than Hawaiian, Swahili or Zulu, ranking 45th on the list of the languages we have borrowed the most words from. Supposedly this is down to Anglo-Saxon snobbery. After all, when was the last time you used the word fugou? That’s Cornish for a house dug into the ground, by the way.

4. As if the region’s favourite snack didn’t have enough to worry about with the pasty tax – apparently the direction you crimp your pasty depends on where you’re from. That’s to the side for a proper Cornish pasty and on the top if you’re from Devon. Every year a world pasty championship is held, this year it was won by a Chilean miner and an 88-year-old woman.

5. Westward Ho! is the only place in Britain that uses an exclamation mark. We think it makes it sound rather jolly. It is also the only place to be named after a book, Charles Kingsley’s 1855 novel, to be precise. Developers rode on the coat tails of its success, building a hotel using its name. It’s stuck ever since.

6. Can you imagine trying to buy furniture to fit a 16-sided house? That was the problem facing Jane Parminter and her cousin Mary, who designed and lived in Britain’s only Hexadecagon home in Exmouth. Mixing Byzantine motifs with Georgian country cottage vibes, they filled it with objects they collected on their ten-year grand tour.

7. Joseph Hansom was a real jack-of-all-trades. Not only did he design the handsome cathedral in Plymouth, he invented the world’s first taxi, otherwise known as a ‘hansom cab’.

8. … and while you’re there, sample some heritage hotcakes at Jackas on Southside Street. Britain’s oldest bakery has been baking buns since Sir Francis Drake’s time, originally selling ship biscuits to voyagers, it fuelled pilgrims all the way to the Americas.

9. There’s something fantastically sci-fi about the sign cautioning ‘you are now entering a radioactive area’ on the border crossing from Somerset into Devon. Devon and Cornwall are in fact the most radioactive parts of the UK, but it’s not all bad news, the high levels of radon are partially responsible for its stunning hilly landscape.

10. Who ever said you couldn’t find the answer at the bottom of a glass? Michael Morpurgo was inspired to write War Horse after meeting some veterans at his local pub, The Duke of York in Iddesleigh, Dartmoor.

 

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Titanic Belfast named King of the World!

Titanic Belfast have just been crowned the ‘World’s Leading Tourist Attraction’ at the prestigious World Travel Awards in the Maldives!

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Having already beaten the Colosseum, the Acropolis and the Eiffel Tower to become Europe’s official Leading Tourist Attraction, we’ve now sailed our way to victory, becoming the World’s Leading Tourist Attraction!! With over 1 million votes cast from over 216 countries in the awards, known as the ‘Tourism Oscars’, Titanic Belfast was awarded the title this afternoon, after beating off stiff competition from eight global finalists – including Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, the Las Vegas Strip, USA, Machu Picchu, Peru and Guinness Storehouse, Ireland. It is the first time an attraction from Ireland, North or South, has won the prestigious accolade. Tim Husbands MBE, our Chief Executive, said; “Over the past few years, we have continued to go from strength to strength but to be voted the World’s Leading Tourist Attraction by both the industry and the public for excellence and for our original product, is really the jewel in our crown. We are delighted that this award firmly shines a spotlight not only on Titanic Belfast but Belfast and Northern Ireland, and celebrates our authentic insight and connection to RMS Titanic. “The Titanic story captures hearts and minds throughout the world and at Titanic Belfast, this is no exception. Our interpretation of the story and ability to engage with visitors on many different levels has been fundamental in winning this award. With the award, we hope to attract more tourists to Northern Ireland to discover it. A huge thank you to our staff and all our supporters that voted, locally and across the world, to help us reach this iconic goal of being the World’s Leading Tourist Attraction.” –

See more at:
http://titanicbelfast.com/Blog/December-2016/Titanic-Belfast-named-King-of-the-World!.aspx?utm_source=Email&utm_medium=Link&utm_content=WTA2016&utm_campaign=Content+Marketing&utm_source=Titanic+Belfast+Customers&utm_campaign=5011521d8e-WTA_Final_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_ef62fde800-5011521d8e-294256529

Top 5 things to do in London for free

So you’re thinking of visiting London or have already booked a trip to London, but where do you visit? I’m sure you’ve looked at going on the London Eye, visiting Harrods and perhaps the Tower of London. These attractions will cost you anything from £25.00 plus per person – that adds up to quite alot, especially if you’re travelling as a couple or a family.

There are so many amazing places to visit and explore in London without the price tag. This is the list of my top 5 attractions and things to do in London for free! First things first, if you’re coming to London from elsewhere in the UK or another country and are looking to stay just outside of London, it’s worth looking into an Oyster card.

What’s an Oyster card?An Oyster card allows you to travel on the underground and buses for a slightly cheaper…

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Killarney hotel wins two awards in two weeks including Best Overall Hotel in Ireland

The Europe Hotel & Resort in Killarney has come up trumps at the 2016 National Hospitality Awards, winning Best Overall Hotel.
This is the second award the hotel has picked up lately, winning Hotel Spa of the Year at the European Hospitality Awards in London last week.


General Manager Michael Brennan has said they were thrilled with the wins: ““There are many fantastic hotels in Ireland, so we’re delighted to have won this award. It is a testament to the amazing team that we have working at The Europe, whose dedication to our customers is second to none.”
Commenting on the award for Hotel Spa of the Year, Spa Manager Victoria Ceesay said, “Winning Hotel Spa of the Year at the European Hospitality Awards is a huge achievement for us.”
The Europe Hotel & Resort is located on the shores of Lough Lein and beside the McGillycuddy Reeks mountain range.

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32 Irish pubs named in Michelin’s ‘Eating Out in Pubs’ Guide for 2017

Larkin's, Poacher's Inn and The Old Spot have each retained their place in the Michelin 'Eating Out in Pubs' guide.

Thirty-two pubs across the north and south of Ireland have retained their places in Michelin’s latest ‘Eating Out in Pubs’ guide, but no new Irish entries have featured on 2017’s list.

Of the 32 pubs featured in the guide, 25 are in the Republic of Ireland, while seven pubs in Northern Ireland have held onto their spots on the prestigious list.

County Down continues to lead the way in terms of the country’s best pub grub, with six establishments, including Pheasant in Annahild and the Poacher’s Pocket in Comber, holding their spots in the guide for 2017.

Cork continues to trump the capital in terms of pub gourmet, holding five listings in the guide, including Deasy’s in Clonakilty, Mary Ann’s in Castletownshend and Bandon’s Poacher’s Inn.

Lisdoonvarna’s Wild Honey Inn and Toddies at The Bulman in Kinsale have each received an ‘Inspectors’ Favourite’ accolade in the most recent guide.

Dublin’s The Old Spot and Kildare’s Harte’s, who entered the guide for the first time last year, have held onto the prestigious mention in the guide, which was published on Friday.

Guide editor Rebecca Burr said the quality of the fare in many pubs now rival that of restaurants: “We are increasingly witnessing how pubs can provide a platform for young chefs to start their own businesses, and how inventive these chefs can be, particularly when it comes to the sourcing of their ingredients.”

Antrim

Billy Andy’s at Mounthill, near Larne

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Clare

Morrissey’s (Doonbeg), Vaughan’s Anchor Inn (Liscannor), Wild Honey Inn (Lisdoonvarna) and Linnane’s Lobster Bar (New Quay)

Linnane’s in New Quay

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Cork

Mary Ann’s (Castletownshend), Poacher’s Inn (Bandon), Deasy’s (Clonakilty), Cronin’s (Crosshaven) and Toddies at The Bulman (Kinsale)

Poacher’s Inn in Bandon

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Down

Pheasant (Annahilt), Poacher’s Pocket (Comber), Parson’s Nose and Plough Inn (both in Hillsborough) Pier 36 (Donaghadee) and Balloo House (Killinchy).

Pheasant’s in Annahilt Co. Down

Dublin

Old Spot and Chop House (both in Ballsbridge)

The Old Spot

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Galway

Moran’s Oyster Cottage (Kilcolgan) and O’Dowd’s (Roundstone)

Band Arcade Fire visit Moran’s in Kilcolgan

 

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Kerry

O’Neill’s Seafood Bar (Caherciveen)

Kildare

Harte’s (Kildare), Ballymore Inn (Ballymore Eustace) and Fallon’s (Kilcullen)

The Ballymore Inn in Kildare

Leitrim

Oarsman (Carrick-on-Shannon)

The Oarsman in Carrick-on-Shannon

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Louth

Fitzpatricks (Jenkinstown)

Mayo

The Tavern (Murrisk) and Sheebeen (Westport)

Sligo

Hargadons (Sligo Town)

Tipperary

Larkins (Garrykennedy)

Larkins in Garrykennedy Tipperary

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Wexford

Lobster Pot (Carne)

The Lobster Pot (Carne)

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Wicklow

Byrne & Woods (Roundwood).

 

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Ireland Voted Best International Destination in the World

Ireland has triumphed at this year’s Group Leisure Awards in Britain, after being voted Best International Destination by thousands of readers of ‘Group Leisure’ magazine.

Above, Stuart Prosser, Jet2.com, and presenters Anton Du Beke and Erin Boag of Strictly Come Dancing, present the award for Best International Destination to Cormac Ó Suilleabháin and Judith Cassidy, Tourism Ireland.

Beating off stiff competition from the likes of France, Germany, Italy and India to claim the title, the award was presented to representatives of Tourism Ireland at the Group Leisure Awards ceremony, which took place in Birmingham.

The annual awards recognise the best destinations, attractions, and providers for the group travel industry – as voted for by active travel organisers from sports and social clubs, retired associations, special interest societies and other groups.

Niall Gibbons, Chief Executive, Tourism Ireland, said: “We are delighted that Ireland has been singled out for this accolade by the readers of Group Leisure magazine and influential group travel organisers around Britain. Travellers nowadays have tremendous choice, which makes it more important than ever for us to ensure the island of Ireland stands out from other destinations – so this award is good news indeed.”

Rob Yandell, Group Leisure magazine publisher, added: “For Ireland to win Best International Destination represents a personal recommendation from group travel organisers.”

 

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Skelligs feel the force as visitor numbers rise

Visitor numbers to Skellig Michael, the precipitous monastic island off the coast of Kerry which closed for the season yesterday, were up this year on the back of the success of Star Wars.

By the middle of September, a total of 13,500 people had visited the 6th century monastic island, a Unesco World Heritage Site, according to the Office of Public Works.

A rockfall, which required sensitive repairs to the main visitor road, delayed the official mid-May opening by just one day.

The island has become the centre of attention in recent years following the success of the latest Star Wars movie The Force Awakens.

Last year, 2015, some 12,560 visited Skellig Michael by season’s end in October.

Boatmen who ferry visitors across 12km of often rough seas to and from the island are again calling for the visitor season — the official period when OPW guides are living on the island to cater to visitors — to return to the traditional May 1 to October 31 season which ceased in 2007.

Seánie Murphy, a long-time Skellig boatman, operating from Portmagee, said 16 days had been lost this September because the boats could not travel due to bad weather; the season is already shortened by 74 days and this is directly affecting tourism business all over south Kerry.

“It doesn’t just affect the boatmen to the Skeillig, it affects everyone — hotels, guesthouses, bars in Killarney and all over the area,” Mr Murphy said.

Extending the season would help satisfy both the Star Wars attraction, as well as the latent demand there anyway, Mr Murphy said.

The OPW has previously rejected calls to extend the season, citing bad weather in October, as well as the need to protect the fragile island from too many visitors.

 

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Meet The Stars Behind London Bars (And Restaurants And Cafés)!

London is home to a whole constellation of stars, including Jude Law and Madonna — but a few have also set up restaurants and bars in the capital. From Gandalf to Kelly Brook, who says your skills must end at acting?

1. Nobu – Robert De Niro

You may know him as Pam Byrne’s overprotective father in Meet The Parents (and the Fockers), but Robert De Niro is also the co-founder of esteemed restaurant chain, Nobu. There are over 30 branches across the world, two of which take pride of place in Central London. Nobu, named after owner and executive chef Nobu Matsuhisa, mixes Japanese and South American influences to create a menu of innovative “new style” Japanese cuisine. It’s often frequented by celebrities, making it a top spot for a bit of star-spotting.
19 Old Park Lane, W1K 1LB / 15 Berkeley Street, W1J 8DY

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2. Steam & Rye – Kelly Brook

Kelly Brook is famous for errr…. we’re not really sure what, but she owns a top-class cocktail bar on Leadenhall Street. The interior was designed by Hollywood Set Designer Jonathan Lee, and was modelled on Grand Central Station in New York. They’ve got live music, a rodeo bull and Ladies Night on a Wednesday (which we’re pretty sure the men will have something to say about, but hey, half price cocktails girls)! The cocktail menu goes all out and they have everything from a Juan Direction, a popular cocktail with tequila and agave, and a Mile High, which comes with a paper aeroplane. They also have a bunch of sharing cocktails that come served in the mouths of dinosaurs and sharks and stuff.
147 Leadenhall St, EC3V 4QT

 

3. Pharmacy 2– Damien Hirst

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Following on from the unsuccessful venture of Pharmacy (1?) in Notting Hill, Hirst has decided to have another go by relaunching the restaurant at his Newport Street Gallery in Vauxhall. The interior very much reflects the name, with pills on the walls and pills on the stools. Coinciding with the gallery’s extended Saturday hours, Pharmacy 2 will be hosting ‘Lates’ on the last Saturday of each month during the Autumn. These evenings will include happy hour cocktails from 10pm, late-night dining and live DJ sets until 2am. PS. The gallery is currently showing a Jeff Koons exhibition which ends October 16.
Newport Street, SE11 6AJ

 

4. The Grapes – Sir Ian McKellen

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Gandalf has returned! But rather than leading the Fellowship of the Ring in Middle-earth, he has bought a pub in East London. The Grapes is a traditional English pub, with proper ales and a Victorian long bar (and now with the added addition of the original ‘Gandalf staff’ on display behind the bar). There’s a heated terrace at the back that dangles over the Thames and flaunts some great views of the City and it’s also said that Charles Dickens used to dance on the tables in his time.

76 Narrow Street, Limehouse, E14 8BP

 

5. Dandy Café – Alt J’s Gus Unger Hamilton

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Alt-J keyboardist Gus Unger Hamilton claims he didn’t always want to be a musician, but rather dreamt of becoming a chef. In a space that was once just shipping containers and rubbish, Gus has followed his dream and opened up a new café in South Hackney. With a focus on natural wine and simple scrumptious food, the Alt-J member’s café is definitely worth a visit.

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