Tourism Ireland Selects Three Podcast Conest Winners

New York, Oct. 6, 2006 – Tourism Ireland has announced the three winners of its “Your Very Own Ireland” podcast contest. The winners, each of whom will “work” in Ireland for one week developing podcasts, were selected from almost 10,000 entries submitted from all fifty U.S. states between mid-July and August 31. They are:

Bob Aldrich from Sacramento, California; Nancy Daly of Winter Park, Florida; and Blair Ciecko, from Western Springs, Illinois. The winners’ names are posted on Tourism Ireland’s U.S. web site,

The contest, a co-promotion between Tourism Ireland and Aer Lingus, invited Americans to submit their ideas as to why they would make good podcasters for Tourism Ireland.

The three winners will each be provided a trip to Ireland for two – including round-trip airfare on Aer Lingus, accommodations, ground transportation, an MP3 player, and logistical support in Ireland.

“The contest has been a great success,” said Joe Byrne, Executive Vice President United States & Canada for Tourism Ireland. “We are thrilled at the response and enthusiasm for Ireland that this contest has generated. The beauty of it is that the winners will discover the traditions and innovations of Ireland while using the modern podcast technology which will allow them to share their personal experiences with millions of potential listeners.”

Tourism Ireland is one of the first destinations worldwide to utilize podcasts as part of its marketing strategy.

“Aer Lingus is delighted to work with Tourism Ireland and to give the winners the opportunity of putting their ideas into action,” said Helen Maguire, Director Consumer Sales for Aer Lingus. “We congratulate them and look forward to welcoming them aboard our flights and hearing about their experiences.”

Podcasts, audio broadcasts downloadable from the Internet to computers and to portable MP3 players, have broken new ground in popular travel reporting throughout the world, allowing individuals to reach millions of people worldwide with their own broadcasts.

The contest is an extension of the Island of Ireland’s “Discover your very own Ireland” advertising campaign which invites travelers to experience the unique attractions of the Island of Ireland, many of which are still to be discovered by Americans, even those who have traveled to Ireland in the past.

A dozen semi-finalists were interviewed by telephone by a panel of Tourism Ireland judges who determined the three final winners. “It was a pleasure to read so many enthusiastic submissions and converse with some of the creative and inspired people who took the time to enter the contest,” said Orla Carey, Communications Manager in the United States for Tourism Ireland. “In the end, we are satisfied that our panel selected three excellent podcasters who will passionately convey their experiences to a wide audience.”

Contestants ranged from a player from the Super Bowl-winning Pittsburgh Steelers to students, business professionals, academics, journalists and retired people — people from all walks of life. Some contestants encouraged others to compete through their own web communications. One contestant set up a personal web site to call attention to his participation in the contest and another used his personal web site to promote the sites and attractions in Ireland he hoped to see should he be selected as a winner.

The contest was also well received in Ireland itself as some Irish web sites applauded the innovative way Tourism Ireland was encouraging Americans to visit Ireland, particularly in the Fall season. The band U2 posted the contest announcement on its web site.

In his entry essay, contest winner Bob Aldrich, a webmaster for a California government agency, stated that he had read James Joyce, Seamus Heaney, Oscar Wilde and Yeats, “and with my background in radio I can bring the imagery of Ireland’s poets and writers to life. I’ve been known to down a pint of Guinness on occasion, so I’ll be able to regale people about the many pubs and taverns around the country. I’m such a big fan of U2 that I’m going to their concert in Hawaii in December. And I also love traditional Irish and Celtic music. I’d be able to bring that love of music and culture to my fellow Americans and others.”

Nancy Daly, a speaker, author and facilitator in the area of transformational change for organizations and individuals from Winter Park, Florida, stated that she “longed for the sight of abundant fresh lavender on the side of the road, the quiet, winding paths along the cliffs and, most of all, the warmth, the wit and the gentle nature of the Irish people themselves.” She summarized her reasons in her love for Ireland’s natural beauty and way of life, her husband’s devotion to golf and her “natural curiosity, love of exploration and sharing my discoveries, and self-discipline…I will work hard to illuminate the exciting experience of Ireland.”

Blair Ciecko, a professional writer and columnist and a mother of three, declared that “One tenet I embrace is that to get to the heart of a story necessitates using all the senses. Talk to people and really listen to their responses. Probe more if you have to. Take in your surrounding environment…the sounds, the sights, the smells, because it’s all part of the larger context. Enjoy the experiences because in a place like Ireland where the history is rich, the people fascinating and the scenery breathtaking, you don’t want to forget a single second. If I can paint a verbal picture of that, I’ve fulfilled my goal.”

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