Where are you going to go? These idyllic spots will make your Irish vacation and unforgettable experience.Getty

Last year the National Tourism Development Authority, Fáilte Ireland, named the top 15 towns and villages that make Irish vacations extra special for visitors, in the run up to the 2014 Tourism Towns Awards.

Paddy Mathews from Fáilte Ireland said, “A great tourism town is one that provides visitors with an unforgettable experience. It is a town where the local businesses and the local community all contribute to shaping and delivering this experience. It also tells its story of its heritage and culture in an engaging way.”

The competition, now in its third year, is designed to recognize Irish towns and villages where the local community goes the extra mile to enhance their appeal to tourists.

In 2013 Kilkenny town took home the title, but this year there will be two categories “Best Large Town” and “Best Small Town”.

Here are the 15 shortlisted towns:

1. Glengarriff, Cork (small)


2. Kinsale, Cork (small)


3. Rosscarbery, Cork (small)


4. Portmagee, Kerry (small)


5. Carrick-on-Shannon, Leitrim (small)


6. Blackrock, Louth (small)


7. Beal an Mhuirthead, Mayo (small)


8. Ardmore, Waterford (small)


9. Lismore, Waterford (small)


10. Ennis, Clare (large)


11. Cobh, Cork (large)


12. Killarney, Kerry (large)


13. Kilkenny, Kilkenny (large)


14. Westport, Mayo (large)


15. Trim, Meath (large)

The shortlisted 15 towns will now be visited by a team of assessors who will look at how each town presents itself to visitors and tells its story. In particular, they will look for evidence of a high quality visitor experience and of involvement by the local community and businesses in delivering this experience. They will look at the quality of its attractions and sites of interest and how well the town promotes what they have to offer.

Now in its third year, the award will continue to focus on how participating towns have developed their local area in the following key tourism areas:

- Sense of place: How the town tells its own unique story to visitors, what’s special about it, and what distinguishes it from other towns.

- Local involvement: How the local community works together to provide an authentic visitor experience.

- Tourism products available: What the town has to offer visitors.

- Development and promotion of the town: How the town takes a unified approach to marketing and developing the town into a “tourism town”.

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