report by Heike O’Sullivan
At a time of year when the tourist season is slowing down, the month of September has seen a number of national awards ceremonies and we here at the Kenmare News, your favourite free monthly magazine, were delighted to see our pretty town of Kenmare doing well on the national stage.
First up was the announcement of this year’s award recipients in the SuperValu National Tidy Towns Competition. Increasingly popular, a record number of 870 towns and villages across Ireland entered the competition this year. Kenmare, as ever, did beautifully well when its diligent and hard working Tidy Towns Group came away with two awards at the lively ceremony held on 25th September at The Helix in Dublin.
The adjudication report praised our town on a great number of points, including the lovely appearance of several business premises including The Lansdowne Arms Hotel and Timmy Gow’s Market House. The Fair Green and Reenagross Park were also favourites, as were most of the approach roads into town. Not surprising to this particular writer, however, was the judges’ criticism of Kenmare’s increasingly evident footpath congestion.
Kenmare Tidy Towns were awarded a Gold Medal and a prize of € 900 in the category ‘Ireland’s Tidiest Small Town, Population Cat. D’ with a total of 327 Marks. Kenmare was also ‘Commended’ by the judges in the ‘County Awards’ and received a further prize of € 500 which this successful local group will doubtlessly put to very good use.
Just one day later, Lyrath Estate Hotel in Kilkenny was once again the glamorous venue for the presentation of the Gold Medal Awards run in association with Hotel & Catering Review magazine. The hotel trade’s leading independent awards programme and judged by industry experts, the competition is now in its 29th year. Gold Awards Medal Judge Sybil Mulcahy said, “The calibre of entries this year was incredible.”
Up against very stiff competition, two Kenmare businesses were amongst the Finalists in four award categories. Contender for ‘Ireland’s 5 Star Hotel’ Sheen Falls Lodge was shortlisted for outstanding accommodation with the provision of superlative service. Finalists in this category not only provide luxurious accommodation but team members are expected to go above and beyond expectations to exceed guest needs.
An ‘Ireland’s Wine Experience’ category saw some very distinguished Finalists including Sheen Falls Lodge. As a Finalist, venues are expected to provide a wine list of exemplary quality and range, and the sommeliers must show their ability to inspire customers to make wider and more adventurous choices in selecting wines.
Sheen Falls Lodge also achieved Finalist status in the ‘Best Hotel Website’ category, by no means an easy feat given the hundreds of Irish hotel websites in existence. The judges looked for innovative websites that have not only increased the popularity, effectiveness, access and revenue of the hotel, but have ensured above all else that the website appeals to its audience, is accessible, and is efficient.
Kenmare’s other honoured Finalist, the stunningly revitalised Dromquinna Manor, was recognised as an outstanding venue providing a superior customer experience through the provision of exceptional service. Ambience, guest service standards, the quality and range of menu offerings and the overall feel of the establishment were all considered by the expert judging panel when choosing the successful Finalists in ‘Ireland’s Guest Experience’ category.
Having competed against Ireland’s best and boldest, neither of our two local Finalists came away with the main accolade this year but here at the Kenmare News, we think being amongst Ireland’s Top Ten in their respective categories is not to be sniffed at. No harm at all to let their sector know that they’re at the top of their game!
Last but by no means least, right here in Kerry, Dingle hosted the 2017 Irish Food Awards, Blas na hÉireann, on 30th September. Now in its 10th year, Blas na hÉireann is the biggest competition for quality Irish produce on the island of Ireland. The Blas awards are based on the blind tasting of produce and the criteria on which the product is judged as well as the judging system itself is now recognised as an international industry standard. Research has shown that the Blas accreditation has the highest recognition amongst Irish consumers and using the award logo on packs encourages shoppers to buy these products. It is their guarantee of a top quality Irish product.
An overall of 2,500 products had been entered in this year’s Blas, requiring 72 judges, each judge having to taste more than 30 products each. Up against some serious, in many cases long-established competition, two small local food producers did exceedingly well to each be awarded with a Bronze Medal for their labours of love. Murphy’s SuperValu Kenmare had entered their tasty Rich Fruit Barm Brack and I’m sure not only Pat and his Bakery Team were absolutely delighted with their award, but all their colleagues and customers, too.
On the other side of Kenmare, Dermot and Una Brennan’s free-range pork enterprise is no stranger to awards, Casey’s Pork Sausage having previously won gold in Europe. At this year’s Blas, Dermot has added a Bronze Medal to his trophy cabinet and to share his delight with the town of Kenmare, Brook Lane Hotel’s Casey’s Bar & Restaurant offer their scrumptious Full Irish Breakfast (including the hero sausage) at the celebratory price of only € 7.50 for the entire month of October.
So, very many congratulations to Kenmare Tidy Towns, Sheen Falls Lodge, Dromquinna Manor, Murphy’s SuperValu Kenmare and Dermot Brennan of Casey’s for having represented Kenmare so well in these prestigious competitions. Many thanks for making our town stand out once again and for flying the flag for Kenmare!