A group of leading travel and lifestyle journalists from Québec enjoyed a fact-finding trip to Roscommon last week, as guests of Tourism Ireland, Fáilte Ireland and leading Canadian tour operator Transat Holidays.
Representing a radio station, a TV station and various online and print publications – including Radio-Canada and magazines like Elle Québec and Tourisme Plus – which will reach thousands of potential holidaymakers throughout the province of Québec, the journalists were here to experience at first-hand some of the many things to see and do in this part of Ireland for travel programmes and feature stories they are researching about holidays here. And, with just under 5 million Canadians claiming Irish ancestral links or affiliations with the island of Ireland, the visit of these journalists was the ideal opportunity to spread the word about the exciting programme of events which is in the pipeline for the Gathering. In Québec alone, the census of 2006 showed that over 400,000 in the province identified themselves as being of Irish descent.
One of the highlights of the journalists’ time here was a visit to Strokestown Park House and Gardens in Roscommon. The Famine Museum at Strokestown Park is twinned with Grosse Ile in Quebec as over 5,500 people who emigrated from Ireland during the famine are buried in Grosse Ile. The journalists also visited Co Galway, where they enjoyed an oyster-shucking demo at Kelly Galway Oysters in Kilcolgan and horse trekking in Moycullen; Co Clare, where they visited the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren Smokehouse; and Dublin, where they enjoyed a literary pub crawl.
Jayne Shackleford, Tourism Ireland’s manager for Canada, said: “Tourism Ireland is delighted to introduce French Canadians to some of the many wonderful attractions of Ireland. The province of Québec is an important market for us in Canada, with over 400,000 francophones claiming ancestral connections with the island of Ireland. Visits such as this are extremely important, helping to spread the word through the media in Québec about the fantastic tourism product showcasing what’s on offer here for French Canadians.
“The visit of these influential journalists was also a valuable opportunity to highlight the Gathering and the fantastic programme of events planned for next year. Right now, Tourism Ireland is rolling out a major programme of promotions in North America, and elsewhere around the world, to highlight the Gathering. We are extending an invitation to the tens of millions of people across the world who have ancestral links with Ireland to come home next year, as well as to the many others who feel linked by friendship, business or education and to those who simply hold an affection for what Ireland has given to the world. We are also calling on expatriates and those with an affinity for Ireland to get involved and organise their own ‘Gathering’ events in Ireland next year.”