Legendary French singer Michel Sardou was presented with a symbolic “Freedom of Connemara Silver Key” in Paris yesterday, as a thank you for his services to Connemara tourism over the years. Sardou’s famous song “Les Lacs du Connemara” (the lakes of Connemara), released thirty years ago in 1981, became a huge hit and still gets airplay today, helping to put Connemara firmly on the map in France and elsewhere around the globe.
A group of top tourism representatives from Connemara travelled to Paris to make the presentation in Paris, at an event hosted by Irish Ambassador to France Paul Kavanagh and organised by Tourism Ireland, in conjunction with Fáilte Ireland West and Bord Bia. The group included Brian Hughes, President of the Connemara Chamber of Commerce; Patrick O’Flaherty of Ballynahinch Castle; Dominic Ó Morain of Lough Inagh Lodge; Kay McEvilly from Cashel House Hotel; and Isabelle Pittore of Kylemore Abbey.
Over 100 guests were in attendance for the special presentation, including members of the French media and a number of TV and radio stations, as well as influential French tour operators and travel agents. Billy Condon, Tourism Ireland’s Manager of Southern Europe, said: “This event received extensive coverage through the media here – reminding people around France once again about the spectacular landscape of Connemara and the west of Ireland and encouraging them to consider it for their holiday in 2012. We are delighted to honour Michel Sardou; his song “Les Lacs du Connemara” has brought Connemara and the west of Ireland to the attention of people everywhere in France and has helped to make Connemara something of a household name here.
“France is the fourth largest market for tourism to the island of Ireland and Tourism Ireland has been working hard throughout 2011 to keep Ireland ‘top of mind’ for French holidaymakers. The growth in visitor numbers from France of over +16% for the first nine months of this year, announced earlier this week, is welcome news indeed and an encouraging basis on which Tourism Ireland, together with our industry partners, will build in 2012.”
Legendary French singer Michel Sardou (fifth from right) was presented with a symbolic “Freedom of Connemara Silver Key” by HE Paul Kavanagh, Irish Ambassador to France (centre); also pictured is Finola O’Mahony, Tourism Ireland (second from right), Ciara O’Mahony, Fáilte Ireland West (right), and top tourism representatives from Connemara including Brian Hughes, President of the Connemara Chamber of Commerce (seventh from right).
Pic - Serge Arnal/Starface
Further media information:
Sinéad Grace, Tourism Ireland t: 087 685 9027
Notes to Editors:
• Tourism Ireland is the organisation responsible for promoting the island of Ireland overseas as a leading holiday destination.
• Tourism is the island of Ireland’s largest indigenous industry; responsible for in excess of 4% of GNP in the Republic of Ireland and employing approximately 200,000 people.
• Approximately 6.7 million overseas visitors came to the island of Ireland in 2010, delivering revenue of approximately €3 billion. Overseas tourism business accounts for 59% of all tourism revenue.
• Tourism Ireland’s international website is www.discoverireland.com; there are 42 different websites, providing information in 14 different languages covering every continent. In 2010 discoverireland.com attracted almost 12 million unique visitors.