Are you planning a trip this year to visit the wonders of the Emerald Isle? If so, consider breaking free from the standard Dublin itinerary and try visiting one of the following towns during your time there. Divided into the best small towns and best large towns, they have been designated as the top ten commended towns in the 2015 Fáilte Ireland Tourism Towns Awards, and will be vying for the top spot when the overall winner is selected in November.
In the small towns category, two towns from County Kerry made the list, Kenmore, and Sneem. Also joining the list are Adare in Country Limerack, Ardmore in County Waterford, Clonakilty in County Cork, and Lismore (County Waterford). When it comes to large towns, Killarney and Tralee are included from County Kerry, with Kilkenny (County Kilkenny) and Cobh (County Cork) rounding out the finalists. The title of Best Tourism Town means a great deal to those selected, both as a stamp of approval for their efforts in creating the ultimate tourism experience, but the winners also receive grants for further development in the area of tourism.
Each of the top small towns offers its own set of unique features that make them worth of a night’s stay (or more!). Adare gives visitors the opportunity to step into history as they walk through medieval monasteries and view quaint cottages from the 18th century. History buffs would also find Lismore appealing- a visit to Lismore Castle is a must for anyone who comes to town. For guests seeking a foodie experience, Kenmore boasts great restaurants set amongst the gorgeous scenery of the “Ring of Kerry”, where Sneem is also located. Prefer the romantic appeal of a seaside town? Ardmore and Clonakilty are likely your style then.
Venturing to some of the larger towns on the list brings with it a wealth of history and points of interest. For those of Irish descent, a journey to Cobh will likely help connect you to your Irish ancestors- after all, over 1/3 of the immigrants who came to the U.S in the 19th and 20th century departed from Cobh, as did the Titanic on her famous and tragic maiden voyage. While visiting the smaller towns in the Ring of Kerry, venture over to Killarney for some of the most jaw-dropping hikes around. Tralee also is a good place to experience the mesmerizing nature of the Wild Atlantic Way.
Kilkenny has been a highly regarded destination for years, popular with celebrities and tourists alike, and for good reason. Not only was it voted the 9th Friendliest City in the World, but it has also been nominated cleaniest town as well as for foodie awards thanks to County Kilkenny being home to 2 of Ireland’s 9 Michelin stars.
No matter which of these towns ends up taking the award in each category, all provide an incredible tourism experience and a chance to immerse oneself in the traditional culture of Ireland.
Have you had the opportunity to visit any of the towns on the short list? Which one would you recommend for others as a “can’t miss” destination?