Stephen’s Top 10 Must-See places!
See the winners of ‘Best Place to holiday in Ireland’ judged by Stephen & 3 other experts for ‘The Irish Times’
BEST PLACE TO HOLIDAY IN IRELAND:
Stephen McPhilemy helps judge the official ‘Best Place to Holiday in Ireland’ along with an army of experts – Irish citizens who are readers of the Irish Times newspaper!
In January of 2014 I got a call from Conor Goodman, the Features Editor of the Irish Times – our respected daily newspaper – asking me would I consider being one of 4 judges on the ‘Best Place to Holiday in Ireland’. The competition which was featured prominently each week in the paper.
I have a habit of saying yes to everything anyway, but to be paid to travel round Ireland judging the best vacation spots was a no-brainer, right?
Features Editor Conor said he and ‘The Irish Times’ wanted me to be part of the judging panel because of my experience as a tour-guide but also to get a ‘Northern voice and opinion’. Great credit to the Irish Times for making this competition an All-Ireland contest. Tourism in Ireland exists on an all-Ireland basis, visitors don’t see the border when they are happily travelling through my beloved Island, and besides it is an invisible line after all. Theres no border to see.
So we got to it. The Irish general public set about nominating their favourites so a shortlist could be drawn up from the best pitches. Don’t forget the Irish are one of the worlds true nomadic tribes, we are good travellers and know a thing or two about what makes a good holiday destination.
THE 4 JUDGES
I was joined on the judging panel by
- Margaret Jeffries, a foodie and President of ‘Good Food Ireland’. Ireland is so blessed with great ingredients, creative chefs and blissful restaurants that her experience would be crucial in deterrmining the best holiday location.
- Rosita Boland, an authoritative journalist and travel writer with the Irish Times, a nationally recognised name who’s writing carries great writing and credentials.
- Eamon Ryan, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eamon_Ryan ) my old pal and mentor from the days when I was a carefree cycling holiday guide through the Glens of Antrim (apart from my schooldays, those days were maybe the most free and enjoyable days of my life). Eamon was a smart young Dublin-based environmental activist and loved cycling, so he started ‘Irish Cycling Safaris’. I sen him an email one day in 1997 asking him did he need any ‘local experts’ on the ground in ‘the North’ for his forthcoming new tour series. Next day I got a phone call from a man with sophisticated Dublin accent and hey presto – I was a young guide leading his tours up into Northern Ireland. Years later Eamon went on to officially become the most powerful tour-guide in the world – he became Minister for Energy and Communications in the Irish government from 2007 – 2011
For Ryan, “it depends on the level of welcome.” McPhilemy looks for “things to do in a place.” Jeffares seeks “a high-quality food experience, first and foremost.” – Irish times
“One of the things that McPhilemy is looking forward to is reading pitches about places “inside the doughnut”. “I have 15 years’ experience as a tour guide and worked with many nationalities. People always ask me what’s in the middle of the country. “One big thing I hope comes out of the competition is that people will let us know what’s special about holidaying in the midlands.”
As a judge, for McPhilemy, “scenery is not enough. There are hundreds of places in Ireland that have great scenery. The other one I don’t think should be a deciding factor is how friendly the people are there. The welcome you get is across the board in this country. It’s not the deciding factor.
“For me, one of the biggest criteria will be things to do in a place. There should be activities for all ages,” says McPhilemy. “Ease of access is also important.”
“Finally, I’ll be looking for affordability. We all know it’s often cheaper to go to Spain for a week than take a domestic holiday. If I’m going off on a domestic holiday and I spend a lot of money on a meal, I also want to have some cheap eating options.”
The long list, top 25 places, with good pitches by passionate citizens and lovers of each location
Some cool videos promoting the the Best places to holiday in Ireland
Click here for good photos of loop head, winner
good quotes from stephen
top 4 visitor attractions, courtesy of Irish central.com , there is a good video
STEPHENS TOP 10
- Dingle Peninsula
- Historic Derry
- Dublin city centre (and yes, including Temple bar)
- The Causeway coast
- Galway city
- Kilkenny city and castle
- Ballintoy, County Antrim
- West Donegal
- Cork and Kinsale (with emphasis on the latter)