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*Anne Cassin with Oonagh O’Dwyer.

Popular RTÉ television show Nationwide is to broadcast a special programme about the Burren this Monday February 15th.

It is one of three major TV shows to feature the region in recent weeks, following Neven Maguire’s ‘Irish Seafood Trails’ on RTÉ One and Channel 5’s ‘Coastal Ireland’ which were both aired last week.

The Burren programme will feature members of the Burren Ecotourism Network, who recently won the Lonely Planet’s ‘Best in Travel 2021’ accolade for community tourism.  

Presenter Anne Cassin visited the area in late January and met three members of the Burren Ecotourism Network. Nuala Mulqueeney, Acting Managing director of the Ailwee Cave and Birds of Prey Centre in Ballyvaughan gave the crew a tour of the cave, followed by a bird of prey display, where Anne had the opportunity of handling Jess, the barn owl. Nuala also told the presenter how regular zoom meetings with members of the tourism network had been vital in maintaining spirits and connections during the lockdowns.

On the Flaggy Shore near New Quay, Oonagh O’Dwyer from ‘Wild Kitchen’ brought Anne foraging to explain the many types of seaweed which are available along Irish shores and the nutritional benefits of including these in our diet. Oonagh then prepared a ‘seaweed picnic’ for Anne which included dillisk tea and ‘laver bread’ cakes made out of a seaweed called nori.

Also featured in the programme are Cathal and Bronagh O’Rourke on their farm in Boston. The couple diversified into tourism recently and bring visitors on tours of their land to highlight their traditional farming methods and the diverse natural landscape of the Burren. This year the O’Rourke’s are launching ‘Burren to Camp’, a new accommodation product which includes the hire of bell tents and teardrop camper trailers.

In Ennistymon the film crew met other local business people, including Jarlath O’Dwyer, CEO of the Burren Ecotourism Network who has an office in the ‘Digital Hub’ in Parliament Street.

Jarlath O’Dwyer talking to Anne Cassin in Ennistymon.

He said: “We were delighted to welcome the Nationwide crew to North Clare.  While many of the local tourism businesses look forward to opening again in 2021, the main questions that they all have are “when?” and “will we be able to stay open and avoid another lockdown?”.  We are all being realistic and know that we will be dependent on the Irish market again this summer. Coverage like this on RTE will help to create awareness of all of what we have to offer Irish people, we just hope that the pandemic can be brought under control and that we can get on with our businesses as soon as possible”

Media coverage for the Burren Ecotourism Network has been at an all-time, since the Lonely Planet award in November, with articles appearing in over 40 different publications, both in Ireland and internationally.  

Last week Birgitta Hedin Curtin of the Burren Smokehouse and Viv Kelly of ‘Russell’s Fish Shop’ at ‘Fiddle and Bow’ were featured in the second series of Neven Maguire’s ‘Irish Seafood Trails’.  In December, another Nationwide programme, featured father and son Bill and Liam O’Brien of Doolin Ferry Co who celebrated 50 years in business in 2020. The programme also included interviews and music sessions with Christy Barry and Sheila Quinn at their Doolin Music House. 

*This article has been edited. An earlier draft incorrectly stated that the Nationwide program featured Doolin Ferries, a company which is not associated with Doolin Ferry Co.

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