Kilkenny sweeps the board at ceremony

Jerpoint Park and Kilkenny Castle were among the award recepients at a reception in Dublin Castle.

Jerpoint Park and Kilkenny Castle were among the award recepients at a reception in Dublin Castle.

Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Mr Michael Ring presented the awards to the three silver merit award winners from Kilkenny in the visits category: Jerpoint Park, Greta Power Farmhouse B&B and Kilkenny Castle at the CIE Tours International Awards of Excellence.

Jerpoint Park is one of Ireland’s best surviving example of a deserted 12th Century Medieval Town and was founded in the 12th century, just west of the Cistercian Abbey, where the main crossing of the River Nore was formed by a tole paying bridge.

It was a vibrant town, with approx 27 dwelling houses, a court house, woollen mill, a tannery, a brewery and reputed to have had 14 taverns. It was powered by two water wheels working on the Arrigle River. It has been brought back to life in the form of a guided heritage tour.

Meanwhile Kilkenny Castle is one of the top tourist attractions in the country attracting a huge volume of tourists each year.

It was built in 1195 by William Marshal, the first Earl of Pembroke to control a fording-point of the River Nore. The final winner Greta Power was recognised for her hospitiality.

Increase in tourism in 2013

Mr Brian Stack, Managing Director of CIE Tours International, said that 2013 was another successful year with business up 20%.

Several factors came together played a role in this including retention of the lower VAT rate, significant increases in air access and the Tourism Ireland’s strong promotion of Ireland, as a destination, thanks to The Gathering.

“We believe we can attribute half of our growth last year to The Gathering. Our estimates indicate that it alone brought in around 4,500 additional visitors on our tours,” he said.

Minister of State for Tourism & Sport Michael Ring said that it was great to hear confirmation from CIE Tours International of the part played by Government initiatives, particularly The Gathering, in boosting their business.

“I am confident that the continued retention of the reduced VAT rate and the reduction of the travel tax to Nil will produce further growth this year.”

Mr Stack continued “Bookings are up 20% on this time last year and we are cautiously optimistic that 2014 will surpass 2013.”