Hashtag Tourism: What’s the most Instagrammed place in Ireland?

You’ll have to head north for the biggest Irish hit on Instagram, which is not that far behind Mount Rushmore in popularity

Tayto Park and Giant's Causeway are popular Instagram backdrops

Tayto Park and Giant's Causeway are popular Instagram backdrops

 

Now that we’re all putting our holiday snaps on Instagram at the touch of a button, the online travel company Travelbird decided to carry out some research ranking nearly 500 tourist attractions around the world, based on the number of tags they received on the social media platform.

And which Irish attractions are inspiring the world’s travellers to seek out new adventures in 2017? The Cliffs of Moher, surely? The Book of Kells, perhaps? Glendalough maybe?

Um, no. The place with the highest hashtag count is the Giant’s Causeway, which reaches the dizzy heights of number 95 in the list with more than 128,000 Instagram appearances - not that far behind Mount Rushmore, and way ahead of the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

The Giant’s Causeway reaches the dizzy heights of number 95 in the list with more than 128,000 Instagram appearances Photograph: Paul Faith/PA Wire
The Giant’s Causeway reaches the dizzy heights of number 95 in the list with more than 128,000 Instagram appearances Photograph: Paul Faith/PA Wire

Ireland’s next most popular Instagram backdrop, at number 151, is the Guinness Storehouse with almost 35,000 hashtags, followed by Tayto Park - yes, Tayto Park in Co Meath - at number 197 with 16,000. Kilkenny Castle and Titanic Belfast are neck and neck at numbers 208 and 209 respectively, followed by Kilmainham Gaol at number 216 and Tintern Abbey in Ireland’s Ancient East, ranked number 232 with a very respectable total of almost 10,000.

The Titanic Belfast museum has staved off competition from Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi, the Las Vegas Strip and Peru’s Machu Picchu to clinch the accolade at an awards ceremony in the Maldives. File photograph: Getty Images
The Titanic Belfast museum. File photograph: Getty Images

“At Travelbird,” they explain, “we love inspiring our travellers to seek out new adventures and create memories with friends and family.”

According to the founder of Travelbird, Symen Jansma, the study “offers a compelling overview of hundreds of destinations that are beloved by Instagram users for their cultural heritage, their stunning natural beauty and their local charm”. The data also “tells a fascinating story about the ways people are travelling in 2017, offering valuable insights for the travel and tourism industry.”

A playground at Tayto Park, Co Meath. Owner Ray Coyle said the expansion would result in the number of full-time employees rising to about 80 from 44.
A playground at Tayto Park, Co Meath

It may also cause some industry-insider wailing and gnashing of teeth. Who would have guessed, for example, that among Ireland’s most hashtagged destinations you would find Duckett’s Grove, the country house and walled gardens in Co Carlow (ranked number 399), St Peter’s Church in Louth (ranked 449), The Mall in Longford (at number 256) and Rancho Reilly Pet Farm, also in Carlow, which came in at number 455 on the list?

No disrespect intended - they’re all fantastic places which offer generous helpings of cultural heritage and local charm. It just seems a bit random, is all. You can see the appeal of Tayto Park and Rancho Reilly for young families, but do people really come from all over the world to take pictures of themselves strolling through Longford? Clearly they do.

1. Guinness Storehouse had 	1,087,209 visitors. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh visited the attraction in 2011. Photograph: Tim Rooke-Pool/Getty Images
The Guinness Storehouse, visited by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in 2011 was also among the top hits. Photograph: Tim Rooke-Pool/Getty Images

As you read down this list you begin to suspect that it’s all getting a little strange. Switzerland, for example, seems to feature a lot. I mean, Lake Lucerne and the jet fountains in Geneva - fair enough. But Gornergrat? Really? What is that, exactly?

(OK, I’ve just googled Gornergrat and it’s a view of the Matterhorn. I take it back. And Travelbird insist that their methodology is sound, sane, scientific and sensible, which I’m sure it is.)

Back at the Irish destinations Trim Castle is at number 260, Powerscourt Gardens at 261 and Clonmacnoise at 309. Then it’s the Newbridge Silverware Visitor Centre (344), Castletown House (355), Emo Court (356), the Wicklow Mountains National Park (366), the Rock of Dunamaise (391), Athlone Castle (420), Slade Castle on the Hook Peninsula (427), Mellifont Abbey (428), the Old Kilbeggan Distillery (433), St Mel’s Cathedral in Longford (434), the Smithwick’s Experience in Kilkenny (454) and Birr Castle Gardens (463).

Topping the list with more than 14 million hashtags was Disneyland California. The Eiffel Tower clocked up seven million. Bringing up the rear, at number 470, just 112 people Instagrammed themselves from Pasvik National Park in Finnmark, Norway. Then again, with an address as confusing as that, we reckon they did well to find their way there in the first place.

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