The Burren in Co Clare has been named as 'The Best Place to Holiday in Ireland 2022'.
Judges praised its stunning landscape, breathtaking coast, grassroots food culture and vision for sustainable tourism.
The win caps a remarkable double for Clare as the inaugural competition back in 2013 was won by the Loop Head Peninsula.
The Burren won the summer competition, which was hosted by The Irish Times in association with Fáilte Ireland.
The north Clare region, which was the unanimous choice of the judging panel, beat off stiff competition from the four other shortlisted locations: Achill, Co Mayo, Carlingford, Co Louth, The Causeway Coast / Portrush in Co Antrim and Inisbofin Co Galway.
Among the other things which impressed the judges about The Burren were its breathtaking coastal scenery and world-class tourist attractions, its grassroots food culture, and its joined-up community approach to warmly welcoming visitors while also protecting what is a unique environment.
The win caps a remarkable double for Clare in The Irish Times ‘Best Place to Holiday in Ireland Competition’ as the inaugural winner of the competition back in 2013 was the Loop Head Peninsula.
This year’s competition began in early May when members of the public were invited to nominate their favourite holiday destination on the island of Ireland.
Over the course of the summer, close to 1,200 members of the public nominated hundreds of locations in every county in Ireland for the title of 'The Best Place to Holiday in Ireland 2022'.
While the number of nominations was a factor in the selection of the top locations – The Burren received six - the quality of the place itself was the chief consideration.
Two weeks ago, the long list of 'Best 20 Places to Holiday in Ireland' was published while last week the short list of five finalists was announced. Clare was one of just four counties to have two locations on that list – The Burren and Lough Derg.
Every nominated location was considered by a panel of judges on a range of criteria including natural amenities, built environment, sustainability, tourism services, diversity, a warm welcome for visitors, transport links, accommodation supply, cost and of course the X factor.
The chair of the judging panel, Conor Goodman from The Irish Times said that while selecting a winner had been difficult, in the end, the many fine qualities of The Burren shone through. He said this was clearly demonstrated in the comments of the judges and reviewers.
For Irish Times journalist Rosita Boland, The Burren is simply a unique region. "Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, and composed of fields of limestone, under which a network of unseen caves lie, the Burren is a haunting, stunning landscape."
Travel blogger Nadia El Ferdaoussi says she has a feeling of excitement every time she visits The Burren because there’s always a different experience awaiting. "The drive up to Fanore beach along the coast is spectacular. Other highlights include The Burren Farm Experience where you can try some of the best local produce Clare has to offer, Wild Atlantic Picnics and Gra Picnics, incredible self-catering accommodation options with Fiddle and Bow, The Burren Smokehouse, brunch in Wild at Doolin Cave, a dip at Doolin Pier."
Finally, Trevor White, Director of the Little Museum of Dublin described the region as one of the great natural landscapes of Europe and a place of enormous character and charm.
"There is so much to do, accommodation options for all budgets, and a welcome that is second to none. Everyone knows about the Cliffs of Moher. This award will, we hope, encourage readers to linger awhile in a part of the island that richly deserves to be celebrated.