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Erris goes wild after competition win

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The view from Blacksod looking towards Achill is one of the spectacular vistas in Erris.
BREATHTAKING
?The view from Blacksod looking towards Achill is one of the spectacular vistas in Erris.

Erris goes wild after competition win


Anton McNulty


The numbers of domestic tourists visiting Erris is expected to ‘increase greatly’ after the region was named the winner of the Best Place to Go Wild in Ireland competition.
Erris was named the winner of The Irish Times’s nationwide competition and described as a ‘glorious, wild, uniformly unspoilt and stunning little-known area’.
“An area the size of Louth with a population of just 20,000, Erris stretches from the 11,000 hectares of mountain and blanket bog that is Ballycroy National Park – Ireland’s only true designated wilderness – to the white sandy beaches of the Mullet peninsula,” writes Arminta Wallace. “Even here there is variety: the windswept Atlantic side is heaven for surfers, while the sheltered east-facing coves are perfect for family pottering.”
In late March, The Irish Times invited readers to suggest their personal favourites, and over 3,800 people responded. The top five locations – Erris and Clare Island in Mayo; the Beara peninsula in Cork and Kerry; the Donegal coast from Killybegs to Ardara; and the Fermanagh lakelands.
Rina Garrett, of tourism co-operative Erris Beo said there was a great sense of pride in the barony following its win and believes it will lead to a greater increase in the number of people visiting Erris.
“We always knew what we had and we wanted to tell people what we have and get the word out. Our marketing budget is limited and we could not afford to run an ad on the front page of The Irish Times. By winning this competition we have nailed the domestic market. From a small flow we expect a massive increase in visitors to the Erris region.
“Yesterday [Sunday] we had a couple who have been holidaying in Westport for 40 years and never been to Erris visit us because of what they read in the paper. The competition has created awareness of Erris and we expect the domestic numbers to increase greatly because of this.
“We now have a tag line we can use to work with our brand. All the time we are developing new projects … we are excited by what can happen from this,” explained Rina.
She added that the competition had brought all the tourism providers together, and she thanked all the community and public who nominated and supported Erris in the competition.
On congratulating Erris, Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring described the region as a ‘hidden gem’. “I am delighted that Erris has won the Best Place to Go Wild in Ireland competition, it is a hidden gem of Mayo and I am pleased that it has been recognised with this award. Westport has always been known as a place to go for tourists, but Erris has long been one of the most beautiful places in Mayo and at last people are discovering this stunning area.
“There are wonderful Hotels and B&Bs, and plenty to do, such as the horse racing festivals, surfing, coastal walks – it has everything,” he added.
This is the second time a location in Mayo has won an Irish Times ‘favourite place’ competition, with Westport winning the ‘The Best Place to Live’ competition in 2012.
Mayo County Council Chief Executive Mr Peter Hynes also welcomed the news. “This win confirms and consolidates Mayo as a world-class destination, and we look forward to continuing our collaboration with all the stakeholders to promote the very positive Mayo message to a global audience,” he said.
The new Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, Damien Ryan, added that the win will provide a springboard for promoting Mayo both at home and abroad in the year ahead.