The Loop Head Heritage Trail has been named a finalist in the Culture and Heritage category of this year’s 12th annual World Responsible Tourism Awards.
The winners will be announced at a ceremony held during World Responsible Tourism Day at World Travel Market in the ExCeL London Exhibition and Convention Centre on Wednesday next.
The 60km Loop Head Heritage Trail takes in 14 local attractions including Carrigaholt Castle and Bay, Bridges of Ross, Kilkee Cliffs and Pollock Holes (WAW Discovery Points), Church of the Little Ark (WAW Signature Point), Bishops Island, Dunlicka Castle, Loop Head Lighthouse, Pilots Memorial and Kilbaha Bay, Grave of the Yellow Men, Rinevella Bay and Submerged Forest, Kilcredaun Churches and Holt Well, Querrin Pier and the West Clare Railway.
The Trail was launched by Loop Head Tourism with funding from Clare County Council, Clare Local Development Company, The Heritage Council, Fáilte Ireland and BIM.
Brian Coakley, CEO, ActiveMe, based in Kerry, who specialises in digital mapping and the collection of high quality location aware (GPS) detailed data collection and media for the travel, tourism and heritage industry, was awarded the Heritage Trail Project Management. He along with folklorist Deirdre McCarthy, photographer Valerie O’Sullivan and graphic designer Cathal Cudden were also part of the project team.
Cillian Murphy, chair of Loop Head Tourism commented, “We are delighted to have been shortlisted as a finalist for what are in effect the Oscars for destinations who aim to develop in a responsible manner. Fundamental to responsible tourism is the ethos of ‘a better place to live in is a better place to visit’ and we have totally enjoyed the journey that has developed the Loop Head Heritage Trail. What began as a learning experience for local people has turned into an important piece of tourism infrastructure that provides an insight for visitors about what it is that makes us who we are.”
Clare County Council heritage officer, Congella McGuire noted the community’s development and promotion of the trail as key to its success in being named a finalist in the 2015 World Responsible Tourism Awards.
Ms. McGuire said that a systematic methodology was used in the development of the trail. Potential heritage sites were identified by locals and project leaders, and then assessed for suitability.
“In-depth research was then conducted into the sites under categories such as maritime history, folklore and traditions, flora and fauna, and built, military, and religious heritage. The result has been the delivery of a trail that promotes the heritage of the area in a sustainable way that is delivering significant economic benefits for the wider community,” she said.
The Loop Head Peninsula was named as the Best Place to Holiday in Ireland by the Irish Times in 2013, was named winner of the European Destination of Excellence (EDEN) Award in 2010. The Peninsula was also shortlisted in the ‘Best Destination for Responsible Tourism’ category of the 2013 World Responsible Tourism Awards.