Louth County Council launched their new Visit Louth tourism website recently – a redesigned online hub dedicated to promoting Louth to visitors. As expected, Ardee is on the site but upon further investigation, it hardly features prominently. Just why is Ardee being undersold to visitors?
On July 17th, Louth County Council rebranded their ‘Louth Holidays’ promotional arm to ‘Visit Louth’ – with name changes and brand new imagery rolled out across social media. Their new VisitLouth.ie website debuted too and is choc-a-bloc with listings of festivals, events, things-to-do, places-to-go and more.
Everywhere, except Ardee it seems. Remarkably, there is no mention of the annual Ardee Baroque Festival that returns to the town again for it’s 14th annual outing from November 16th to 19th. That is despite dedicated listings for 10 other festivals in the county – including the Carlingford Oyster Festival, the Blackrock Film Festival, the Boyne Music Festival, the Drogheda Arts Festival and the Irish Maritime Festival.
Whilst Ardee Castle is given it’s own dedicate page in the ‘Things to Explore’ section, there is no mention that the ancient townhouse is closed to visitors. Even if it was open, it’s in no current state to operate on a regular basis. Plans for development are ongoing – but money to act on those plans is not.
The town is unique in that in has two castles on it’s Main Street, but while visitors to VisitLouth.ie may be disappointed to learn Ardee Castle is closed, it’s close neighbour Hatch’s Castle is not. It is available to stay in, with booking available through AirBnB.
Not that anyone would know as the popular venue, also used as a venue for last year’s Baroque Festival, is not mentioned on the new website. In fact, only two accommodation options in Ardee are – Carraig Mor at Blakestown and Woodville on the Golf Links Road, incorrectly listed as Woodview – which is the B&B located at Rahanna.
Town centre options such as Setanta Guesthouse and B&B are not listed.
Why is Ardee being overlooked?
The ever-popular Ardee Baroque Festival returns to the town once again in 2017 – but there is no mention of it within the busy Festivals section of the VisitLouth.ie website.
Whilst Brian Muldoons & Sons is listed in the ‘Pubs & Restaurants’ section of the tourism site – there is no such luck for the likes of The Railway Bar, Hamills, The Ferdia Arms, The Fair Green, Boylans, Reillys or Luna Nightclub. No restaurants are listed for the Ardee area meaning visitors to the website are denied the opportunity to consider Nosh Cafe Bistro, Upstairs at Lynches, Muldoons Boylans, Dooley’s of Edmonstown or the recently opened Goose.
15 Drogheda-based pubs and restaurants are listed on VisitLouth.ie, as are seven each from Dundalk and Carlingford. That’s compared to just the one from Ardee.
Across six categories – Explore, Things To Do, Events, Festivals, Accommodation and Pubs & Restaurants – there are a total of just seven listings for Ardee. Now, nobody is claiming that Ardee is a full developed tourism hotspot – but the numbers clearly undersell what the town has to offer.
The tally of seven compares to 78 listings for Drogheda and 56 and 57 for Carlingford and Dundalk. Ardee Golf Club is the sole local entry in the things to do category, while The Jumping Church is the only entry in the Explore category.
The website makes no mention of other places of historical or heritage interest in Ardee such as the Chantry College, the Fallen Helmet, the Ferdia and Cuchulainn statue and St Marys Church of Ireland.
In 2016, the Heritage section of Louth County Council produced both tourism and heritage guides for Ardee town, with both focusing heavily on places of interest throughout the town. There appears to be little if no crossover between that initiative and the new tourism website.
Do you think enough is being done to promote Ardee and what is has to offer to visitors? Could a greater push for tourism be made in Ardee and across Mid-Louth? Let us know with a coment below or e-mail your thoughts to [email protected]