Six years in

Six years ago today, Friday 1st March 2013, I became Bundoran Tourism Officer. Less than two weeks later I turned the key of the tourist office at the bridge and I haven’t looked back since.

The tourist office pictured on March 14th 2013 days before opening for St Patrick's Day and the 2013 season
The tourist office pictured on March 14th 2013 days before opening for St Patrick’s Day and the 2013 season

Having never worked in tourism before i was unsure of the journey that lay ahead of me. However, while tourism was (and is) an important part of the job, promotion is the name of the game. Promoting Bundoran to the world. To the country. But importantly promoting Bundoran to itself. I am a firm believer to this day that there are no more important ambassadors for the town than those who live here or have visited in the past. It is equally as important for them to know what’s going on in the town and take ownership of it as it is for the first time guest.

 

Making headlines ahead of starting the new job
Making headlines ahead of starting the new job

The job has not been without its challenges. However those challenges have been far outweighed by the opportunities which have come my way over the past 6 years. I have travelled, met some amazing people, helped to stage some huge events and hopefully helped to bring a bit of recognition to this beautiful town that I call home.

Some highlights of the past 6 years follow.

Douzelage

One of the most important personal aspects of the job for me since 2013 is being part of the Douzelage town twinning organisation. Bundoran has been a member of this since its inception in 1991 and was one of the original 12. We now have a twin town for every country in the European Union. This gives Bundoran 27 twins! I’m eternally lucky and grateful to be able to travel to one of our twin towns each year to represent Bundoran at the annual General Meeting of all towns. So far I have attended meetings in Latvia (2014), Romania (2015), Bulgaria (2016), Germany (2017) and Sweden (2018). I have also visited many of the twin towns in a personal capacity. I have made life long friends on these trips, many of whom have visited Bundoran on more than one occasion.

Representing Bundoran in Bulgaria 2016 - Megan McGee, Joe Mc Nulty, Shane Smyth and Denise Connolly pictured with Douzelage President Annigje Kruytbosch
Representing Bundoran in Bulgaria 2016 – Megan McGee, Joe Mc Nulty, Shane Smyth and Denise Connolly pictured with Douzelage President Annigje Kruytbosch
With fellow delegates in Romania 2015 - Ingo & Ramon (Netherlands), Lucas (Slovakia) and Ali (UK)
With fellow delegates in Romania 2015 – Ingo & Ramon (Netherlands), Lucas (Slovakia) and Ali (UK)
Shane Smyth representing Bundoran in Sigulda, Latvia - 2014
Shane Smyth representing Bundoran in Sigulda, Latvia – 2014

5 lifelong friendships formed through Douzelage – Me, Ovi (Romania), Sergej (Slovenia), Evelin (Bulgaria) and Bor (photographer! – Slovenia)

Flag roundabout (the Douzelage friendships) - Bor Dolenc
Flag roundabout (the Douzelage friendships) – Bor Dolenc

Events

Events are a huge part of what I do – small scale or large scale. This was one of the first weekend of events I promoted in the job in 2013.

One of the first events we organised was the Heritage weekend which was a big success!
25/01/14_Discover Bundoran: Shane Smyth, Niamh Hammill pictured with Maureen Ledwith(Director of the Holiday World Show) and TD Michael Ring(Minister for Tourism and Sport). Photo:Michael Donnelly.
One of our big events during 2014 was the fireworks display. Nathan Carter kindly came along to press the button and launch the display on the night.
Fireworks 2014 - pic Claudio SalviatoFireworks 2014 - pic Claudio Salviato
Fireworks 2014 – pic Claudio Salviato

Blue Flag

One of the great achievements of Bundoran has been the awarding of the internationally recognised Blue Flag for Main Beach. This award is very important for Bundoran and it’s my great honour to collect the flag on behalf of the town each year.

picture shows Shane collecting Bundoran's 27th Blue Flag in Portmarnock Dublin in 2014
Collecting Bundoran’s 27th Blue Flag in Portmarnock Dublin in 2014

Meeting people

The job allows me to meet lots of different people from both home and abroad. I was really lucky in 2015 to be working on the launch of the new Donegal Tourism brochure which was officiated by one of my broadcasting heroes – the one and only Gay Byrne.

picture shows Shane meeting Gay Byrne at Glenveagh National Park
Meeting Gay Byrne at Glenveagh National Park

Through Douzelage, mentioned above, the French ambassador got wind of our wonderful organisation and wanted to meet the town twinning team in Bundoran. How could we refuse! His Excellency Jean-Pierre Thébault paid a visit to Bundoran in 2017.

His Excellency Jean-Pierre Thébault meets the Douzelage Bundoran team with some business owners from Bundoran. Pic Conor Conlon
His Excellency Jean-Pierre Thébault meets the Douzelage Bundoran team with some business owners from Bundoran. Pic Conor Conlon

The mouth

Sometimes I’m on the other side of the mic – talking about what’s going on in Bundoran! Other than the weekly podcast and weekly video there’s the odd media interview about Bundoran!

Shane Smyth pictured with Ocean FM's Claire Ronan
Shane Smyth with Ocean FM’s Claire Ronan

Shane joined John Breslin on Highland Radio in January of 2018 to talk about the Fairy Bridges being listed amongst Ireland’s Top 10 Hidden Gems in the Irish Independent

Shane Smyth pictured with Highland Radio's John Breslin
Highland Radio’s John Breslin with Shane

The podcast

They say radio never leaves you. I know this to be true. Having spent almost 20 years working in commercial radio doing what I was passionate about, I was missing it ever so slightly. What could I do? What could I talk about? Maybe podcast talking about Bundoran? Today, episode 34 of the Bundoran Weekly is released!

Picture shows Shane Smyth interviewing singer songwriter Charlie McGettigan for the Bundoran Weekly podcast in 2018 - six years in
Shane Smyth interviews singer songwriter Charlie McGettigan for the Bundoran Weekly podcast in 2018

Promoting Bundoran to the world.

I’m lucky to get to travel to promote Bundoran. Mostly it’s within Ireland. However there’s been some trips out of the country too. We do our best to make sure that everyone knows about Bundoran!! Check out one of my vlogs from the Holiday World Show in Belfast recently.

Promoting Donegal in Glasgow in 2015 - six years in
Promoting Donegal in Glasgow in 2015

Thankful

There’s so many more photos that could be included. There’s so many more words that could be written. I haven’t even skimmed the surface of everything. I’m lucky and thankful to be doing something that I love and promoting somewhere that I love for a living. Here’s to the next six years.

This picture sums me up perfectly. Nice catch by Andrea Whelan
This picture sums me up perfectly. Nice catch by Andrea Whelan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *