Video: Loop Head celebrates being the best place to visit, even in gale-force winds and fog

Community spirit saves celebrations amid gale-force winds

Video profiling The Irish Times Best Place to Holiday in Ireland competition 2013. Derry city, Killarney, The Glen of Aherlow, Loop Head peninsula and Inishbofin were the five shortlisted areas, and Loop Head peninsula was announced as the winner.

 



It was a community working together that won Loop Head in Co Clare the Irish Times award of the Best Place to Holiday in Ireland, and it was community spirit there yesterday that saved the celebrations.

Earlier this summer, the Loop Head peninsula was judged the Best Place to Holiday in Ireland and yesterday was the day scheduled for the celebration event in Carrigaholt. The peninsula woke to gale-force winds, fog and driving rain, making the planned outdoor event impossible.

Step forward, Mark Carmody, who runs a pub in the village, and who opened his nearby haybarn at short notice as the new venue. There can’t be many formal award ceremonies that take place among sacks of turf and have stages made of farmyard pallets, but the Carmody haybarn, made available by community spirit, could not have been a more appropriate place to celebrate.

Paying tribute to Loop Head Tourism, Irish Times editor Kevin O’Sullivan said: “We asked the people of Ireland to nominate the place they most liked to holiday. More than 1,400 entered and they came from every county in Ireland.”

Loop Head, he said, had won because a network of local people working in tourism had taken their “wonderful natural resource” and “created a local, sustainable and personal experience for visitors. In simple but clever ways, Loop Head brings visitors close to nature, through minibus tours, cycle trips, cliff walks, wild camping, boat journeys and windsurfing.”

As he spoke, occasional loud pops could be heard in the barn, as excited children squeezed the inventive balloon creations a bit too tight. There were balloon mermaids, fish and frogs; there was a vintage photo booth, popcorn and candyfloss stalls and, between speeches, a live jazz band that rattled the tin roof. It was like the circus had pitched up in this remote and lovely part of Clare.

In his speech as chairman of Loop Head Tourism, restaurateur Cillian Murphy said: “Our concept for tourism development in the peninsula was a simple one. It came from the realisation that we had two industries here that could provide the entire community with a livelihood – farming and tourism, and tourism was the sleeping giant waiting to be woken.”

They had, he said, succeeded in getting three parishes to work together. “There is strength in unity,” Mr Murphy added. “That is what works for us and that is why we are here.”