It is one of the things we try really hard to do here. We ask our guests to stop awhile. To take in the beauty of the landscape, to linger in our towns and villages, to explore the rich heritage that surrounds us here in the Burren. To try to understand a sense of place. Many of our guests come back from the local farmers market smiling as they tell us of the chats they’ve had with different stall owners. They regale us with tales of the craic and laughter they’ve discovered as they sample local food or have a slow pint in the village pubs. They share their delight at hidden corners explored and whisper of stolen moments just absorbing the light and beauty that has surrounded them during their stay.
Projects such as the Burren EcoTourism Network work tirelessly to ensure that visitors to the Burren can come and experience this part of the world without impacting the environment as much as possible. They promote purposeful, sustainable tourism. But more than that, they showcase the Burren, drawing together a community of people who work day and night to invite visitors to enjoy the best possible experience this region can offer. The Lonely Planet “Best in Travel 2021” award celebrates this collaboration, shining a well deserved light on the years of work and dedication that went into this vision of tourism that ensures not just the positive experience of the visitor to the area, or the protection of the landscape, but importantly, the wellbeing of the people and their communities who live here all year round.
Local engagement is critical. I grew up here, the daughter of a restaurateur and artist. I watched my parents graft and struggle to carve out a living in a tourist season that was short and intense. Back then, you relied very much on word of mouth to get your business promoted. Businesses came together and created a network of people to try to ensure the success and viability of their business all year round. These were all family-run operations. They ran food fairs, gourmet weekends, writers’ workshops, and even concerts. Thankfully, we now have social media and the Internet, which ensure that our reach is even further afield, promoting tourism and sharing our region with the world.
It is still however, about engaging with every visitor who comes to stay with us. Even for a small business like ours. It is about forging connection, sharing a sense of place and belonging. Inviting our guests to slow down, take the time for a chat, slurp that native oyster, rummage in the tide for shiny mussels, explore local attractions, sip a nice slow pint, enjoy a blast of sea air whipping through your hair, or simply stop to just be in this very special place we call home. To say, you are welcome, enjoy your stay!