Kilkenny is named Ireland’s 2013 Tourism Town

Kilkenny is named Ireland’s 2013 Tourism Town
Kilkenny - 2013 National Tourism Town

Mulranny in County Mayo honoured with Best Small Town Award as Fáilte Ireland ceremony takes place

Fáilte Ireland today announced that Kilkenny has been crowned the 2013 National Tourism Town. The medieval cultural hotspot was chosen from a shortlist of ten top tourism towns. A Best Small Town Award was also presented to Mulranny, County Mayo which is situated along the hugely popular Great Western Greenway.  The remaining towns all received certificates of merit to acknowledge their own impressive performances in reaching out to visitors and creating the best possible tourism experiences. 

The Tourism Towns Award was designed by Fáilte Ireland to promote those Irish towns and villages which are working hardest to enhance their appeal to tourists visiting their local area.  As the overall winner, Kilkenny received its winning certificate along with a €10,000 grant towards further developing itself as a tourism destination.

Mulranny received €5,000 while the other eight short-listed towns received €1,000 grants to accompany their certificates of merit. As well as the certificates and grants, all the shortlisted towns will be able to boost their pitch and use their ‘Tourism Town’ status when marketing themselves.

Aside from today’s two top winners, the other commended towns were:

• Cobh, Co. Cork
• Drogheda, Co. Louth
• Ennis, Co. Clare
• Kenmare, Co. Kerry
• Letterkenny, Co. Donegal
• Murrisk, Co. Mayo
• Tralee, Co. Kerry
• Westport, co. Mayo

Minister of State for Tourism & Sport Michael Ring congratulated Kilkenny on winning the 2013 crown - 

“Kilkenny, with a strong mixture of hurling, heritage and hospitality in its DNA, really impressed the judges this year with the way the locals knitted local food, sports and, of course, their medieval history into their tourist offering. Kilkenny is truly a city geared towards tourism and its relentless focus on the right type of welcome has ensured that it is our worthy winner this year.

“Needless to say, as a Mayo-man  I am also very pleased to be able to congratulate Mulranny on its great achievement in being awarded the title of ‘Best small Tourism Town’. I would like to commend all involved in the local community for their work, seizing the opportunity and really building local tourism along the newly created Greenway.”

Today’s finalists were chosen following an initial long-listing process where 45 towns were originally chosen for assessment. A panel of independent assessors, as well as a team of ‘secret shoppers’, visited each town to measure their tourism performance and the level of welcome to visitors. 

With regard to the overall winner, the judges noted how Kilkenny has preserved so many of its historical buildings while at the same time undertaking an impressive regeneration programme.  Accommodation offerings are plentiful and visitors can avail of a great array of local culinary delights.  The judges were also struck by the enthusiasm of the local community and how individuals were unfailingly helpful, informed and friendly. 

The judges were particularly impressed with how Kilkenny has brought the hurling experience to life through the various product offerings available.  Cross promotion is widely found throughout the city business network and it was also noted how the ethos of the Gathering had been fully embraced by the people of Kilkenny and how they had brought their own style to it. 

Congratulating Kilkenny, Shaun Quinn CEO of Fáilte Ireland said:

“I would like to commend everyone in Kilkenny for their involvement in this year’s award. All our top ten towns have shown a high degree of local involvement in – and passion for - tourism. A big focus of both The gathering and the Tourism Town Award is community involvement and, as we are coming to the end of a year when such community tourism has really come to the fore, these finalists are all great role models for the type of local activism which has made The Gathering such a success.”

Kilkenny’s attributes of a tourism town were recognised earlier in the year by readers of 'Conde Nast' travel magazine when they voted Kilkenny as the 9th friendliest city in the world. Readers praised Kilkenny’s clean air and many pubs. “People were always greeting you,” one reader wrote. Another praised the “charming” locals, describing them as “proud folks who want you to sample their best.”

The assurance of a warm welcome for visitors was further galvanised following the launch earlier this year by Destination Kilkenny of the Kilkenny Visitor Welcome Ambassador Programme, which has been a huge success and the level of engagement by locals has far exceeded expectations. Now today, with the accolade of Ireland’s top Tourism Town, Kilkenny’s appeal can only get stronger.


For further information please contact:
Louise Tolerton - Press Officer
086 6086578/01 8847135

Catherine Whelan
087 6449572/01 8847181

File pictures of top ten towns also available

Note for Editor

Fáilte Ireland, the national tourism development authority, was established in 2003 to guide and promote tourism as a leading indigenous component of the Irish economy.

The tourism and hospitality industry employs an estimated 185,000 people and generates almost €5.7 billion in revenue a year. 

Tourism Town Awards – what are the judges looking for?

The Tourism Town award focuses on how participating towns have developed their local area in the following key tourism areas:

• Sense of Place – How the town tells its own unique story to visitors, what’s special about it, and what distinguishes it from other towns.  
• Local Involvement - How the local community works together to provide an authentic visitor experience.

• Tourism Products Available – What the town has to offer visitors.

• Development and promotion of the town – How the town takes a unified approach to marketing and developing the town into a “tourism town”.

The Judges’ comments on the top ten towns

The sense of place is very strong among Cobh residents and they are very proud of their town.  The Cobh community has a vision of where it wants to be in terms of Irish tourism and is well on its way there.  Locals are more than willing to engage with the visitor and share their obvious enthusiasm for and knowledge about their town and its history. 

Drogheda has a strong heritage in terms of culture and history and the free access to almost all heritage and cultural facilities is commendable.  Drogheda had a good atmosphere with all age groups are catered for in and around the town. 

The sense of place is strong in the town where the medieval townscape is complemented by beautifully by its historical, archaeological and culture heritage while retaining the best of its natural environment.  Shopping in Ennis is a delightful experience and the range and quality of attractions is commendable as is the range of accommodation and food offerings.

Visitors to Kenmare are warmly welcomed and Kenmare appears to be driven by excellence in terms of service delivery.  The sense of friendliness and professionalism was impressive throughout the town.  Retailers understand and respect the needs of visitors and strive to provide the highest possible standard.

The visitor experience in Letterkenny is excellent in relation to food, accommodation and entertainment.  The commitment of the town to present and maintain the streets in a tidy fashion is impressive.  This along with the public area improvements has considerably enhanced the appearance of the town centre.

Mulranny is a stunning locationand the community has worked so hard to revitalise its tourist product.  The signage in the town is great and there is lots of information available to visitors.  There is strong evidence of local promotion of the tourism product and long term planning.  It is clear there is real understanding shown of the importance of choice and diversity that should be offered to visitors. 

A strong awareness of the natural, cultural and heritage environment is a major strength for Murrisk.  The tourism experience is well organised with local involvement very much at the helm.   The food offering is excellent and closely linked to local products.  The people of Murrisk love their village and this is clearly evident

There is a great sense of history in Tralee and it is clear that the local community are fully on board regarding the value of tourism. The friendliness of the people is clearly evident – in Tralee, it is all about stimulating community pride.  Tralee is an interesting town where one could easily spend a few hours walking the streets, visiting shops and enjoying the roses in the town park.  

The community fully embraces and prepares to welcome their visitors all year round.  The use that Westport makes of its natural amenities is outstanding and should provide inspiration for many other towns.  The sheer number of the many events hosted by Westport is impressive.  There is very strong interaction between local businesses, the public and voluntary sectors.  The adjudicators found in Westport, a very friendly community hugely proud of their place and willing to go beyond the call of duty to welcome the visitor.

Jump to top


Keep up to date on tourism news

Stay informed of all industry news with our fortnightly newsletter.

Sign up for our e-newsletter