It was the “luck of the Irish” when New Zealand couple Jeremy and Melinda Stevenson won a dream trip to Ireland and County Louth to trace their lost ancestors. The competition was run by Tourism Ireland in New Zealand on national television (TVNZ), to coincide with the St Patrick’s Day celebrations and also formed part of a wider promotion entitled “Go Green – Discover Your Irish Side”, aimed at promoting the island of Ireland in the Australian and New Zealand Markets. It is estimated that one in every five New Zealanders has Irish roots.
Those entering the competition had to outline their Irish connection and explain why they deserved to win. Thousands of people entered the competition and after winning, the Stevensons travelled to Ireland to trace their ancestry even further. Their Irish adventures were filmed for TVNZ and will air on the popular “Breakfast” programme, which has over 1 million viewers.
The couple met with local historian Hugh Smyth in the beautiful surroundings of Darver Castle near Dundalk to discuss their Irish ancestry; the castle was originally built by Melinda’s ancestors in the 12th century. Later that evening the couple had a surprise meeting with Louth relations they had never met before.
Jim Paul, Tourism Ireland’s Head of New and Developing Markets, said: “This visit, which is being televised for TVNZ, provides a wonderful opportunity to showcase the island of Ireland as a premier holiday destination to a wide audience in New Zealand. Last year, we welcomed approximately 25,000 New Zealanders to Ireland. Increased promotional activity such as this helps to raise awareness of Ireland and will help grow visitor numbers from this market.”
Pictured finding out more about their Irish and Louth ancestors with local historian Hugh Smyth are Jeremy and Melinda Stevenson.
Sinéad Grace, Tourism Ireland, tel: 01 476 3493/ 087 685 9027
Norman Pratt, Weber Shandwick, tel: 01 676 0168/ 086 151 8921