IT MAY have been a ‘school night’ but that did not stop the people of Loophead partying last night (Monday), as they gathered in the Longdock Bar in Carrigaholt to celebrate Loop Head peninsula being named Best Place to Holiday in Ireland.
Kilbaha woman Ailish Connolly was one of the many excited people delighted to see this area of west Clare get national recognition.
“I really can’t believe it. I was out dolphin watching on Saturday and I got a call saying they [‘The Irish Times’ sponsor] wanted to take a photograph. I got all excited but then was told that they were taking photos of all five finalists. I just kept telling myself we didn’t win, but coming in the top five was great,” she laughed.
Kevin Heapes of Pure Camping based in Querrin had spent Sunday night checking the web to see if an announcement had been made.
A win would have been a huge endorsement of the work carried out to date by Loophead Tourism, a group of local private businesses who, with the support of the Clare Local Development Company (Leader) and Clare County Council, got together to market the peninsula for sustainable tourism.
Of the 90 businesses on Loophead, as many as 45 are part of Loophead Tourism. And all 45 are in some way involved in the tourism industry.
Maps and information is published locally on recycled paper, the plaques for each building are designed and produced locally and all marketing and design work is produced locally, feeding back into the local economy.
“None of this would be possible without Leader. We would not have been able to pull it all together and market it,” said Ms Connolly.
“There are five businesses that want to get started in the next 12 months on the Loop and that cannot happen without Leader support,” she added.
Meanwhile Cillian Murphy, Chairman of Loophead Tourism said that with the company’s support significant work had been undertaken during the past four to five years in establishing a community-wide approach to tourism development across the Peninsula.
“As a result of this, we have seen many members of the community establish their own tourism-based initiatives that are complemented by the supports being made available by other established local businesses, the Loophead Tourism network, Clare County Council, Clare Local Development Company (CLDC) and Fáilte Ireland,” he said.
“Loophead excelled in this competition not only because it possesses a rich variety of visitor attractions and activities and one of some of Ireland’s most unique scenery, but also because it matched the competition criteria that were very much focused on community, sustainability and the quality of the tourism product on offer. This reflects a shift within the tourism sector to visitors looking for a genuine and organic holiday experience, which is something that Loophead offers in abundance.”

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Claire Gallagher is a multi-award winning journalist with more than 15 years experience in media. The Galwegan began her career in radio working in news and current affairs. Having spent a year on the dark side – political PR and Spin – she returned to journalism and has since then worked mainly in print – regional and national – while continuing to work with the broadcast media. She has been with the Clare People since its foundation in 2005. She was awarded “Young Irish Medical Journalist of the Year” in June 2008 while working with the paper. Twitter @galocon Facebook ClaireGallagherClarePeople

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