Emerald Award Winners 2024

Emerald Awards in Geopark Code of Practice updates in progress The following businesses have been awarded an ‘Emerald’ status for achieving 91% or higher in the Geopark Code of Practice for Sustainable Tourism. We consider these businesses ‘exemplary sustainable tourism operators’ and leaders in sustainability within the Burren Ecotourism Network.

Aillwee Burren Experience

Aillwee Burren Experience is located in the heart of the Burren near the village of Ballyvaughan on the Wild Atlantic Way. The visitor experience has a number of distinct attractions including one of Ireland’s oldest caves, a Bird of Prey Centre, a farm shop, and a cheese making business.

The Cave includes unique rock formations, bridged chasms, waterfalls and the hibernation chamber of the long extinct brown bears. Above ground there is a Bird of Prey Centre, which includes the largest and most varied collection of Birds of Prey in Ireland – Eagles, Falcons, Hawks, Owls and Vultures, with daily flying displays.  In the farm shop at Aillwee, there is a small factory, where they produce Gouda-style cheese with milk sourced from the Holstein Friesian herd at Caherconnell Farm located 5km away.  Recently, the Burren Gold Cheese received GEOfood status, which means it is a food that is produced within a UNESCO Global Geopark using ingredients sourced within the Burren Region.

The company has been awarded an ‘Emerald’ status for their Code of Practice actions. These include energy consumption, waste management, green purchasing, and through their support and engagement with the local community, for example supporting school and sports clubs and engaging in regular clean ups.

Aillwee Burren Experience has been certified as an Outstanding Employer and Gold Recipient, 2023 as part of Fáilte Ireland’s Employer Excellence Programme.

For more information, go to https://aillweeburrenexperience.ie/environmental-objectives-and-actions/

Aillwee Burren Experience

Aillwee Burren Experience

Aloha Surf School

Burren Experience Guided Walks

Burren Smokehouse

Cafe Linalla Ice Cream

Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience

The Cliffs of Moher are the iconic natural tourist attraction, towering over the rugged West Clare coast. The Cliffs are dramatic, stretching for over 5 miles and rising 7-2 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. Visitors can enjoy walking on paved pathways with three viewing platforms, to view the Aran Islands, Galway Bay and County Kerry. The area is a special protected area (SPA) for birds and wildlife since 1979 and is home to over 20 different species of birds, with 30,000 pairs on-site during the breeding season. Species include kittiwakes, guillemots, fulmars, peregrine falcons and puffins. The Cliffs of Moher have been awarded an Emerald Status for their implantation of the Code of Practice principles. Actions include employing waste management principles, ‘Leave No Trace’ endorsement, rewilding areas for conservation, community events, employing local people and taking part in regular cleans ups in the Burren.

The Cliffs of Moher Experience has been named winner of ‘Ireland’s Best Visitor Attraction’ in The Irish Independent’s annual Reader Travel Awards for 2023.

For more information, go to https://www.cliffsofmoher.ie/unesco-global-geopark/

Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience

Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience

Doolin Cave

Doolin Ferry Company

Falls Hotel

Sustainability is at the heart of all that we do in The Falls Hotel. We are at the gateway to the wonderful Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark, which prompted us to put sustainability at the top of our agenda. We run on hydro power generated through a hydro electric turbine on the Inagh River that runs alongside us. In 2021 we were awarded Carbon Neutral certification as a result of a five-year carbon reduction programme we implemented.



Gregans Castle

Gregans Castle Hotel is a luxury, eco and gourmet retreat nestled in the heart of the beautiful Burren on Ireland’s west coast. The house has been welcoming guests since the 1940s, and the family has been running it since 1976. Our stunning 18th-century manor house is set in its own established and lovingly-attended gardens on the Wild Atlantic Way and has spectacular views that stretch across the Burren hills to Galway Bay. One of the founding members of the Burren Ecotourism Network, the hotel prides itself on its sustainable tourism ethos. This includes using sustainable energy sources such as solar PV panels, using local food producers, using environmentally friendly cleaning and bath products, planting trees, providing three electric car charging points, business members of leave no trace, work actively with local communities, amongst many others.

The hotel has won many awards, including:

  • Best Hotel & Guesthouse Restaurant – RAI Irish Restaurant Awards 2019
  • Winner, Irish Hotel of The Year – The Good Hotel Guide, Cesar Award 2019

For more information, go to https://www.gregans.ie/the-burren.html

Gregans Castle

Gregans Castle

Michael Cusack Centre

The Cusack Centre, Carron, Co. Clare is an exhibition centre founded in memory of the legendary Irishman Michael Cusack, who was the founder of the GAA. His remarkable story is told through audio-visual exhibits set in the original thatched cottage where Michael was born in 1847 during the Famine years. The centre also has a gift centre, conference and meeting room facilities. The Cusack Way walking trail starts at the centre and is a 6km linear trail which leads to the Cahercommaun Cliff Fort taking the average walker about 45 minutes to reach. Upon reaching the fort, the walker is rewarded with stunning panoramic views of the impressive landscape from this elevated site.

The Emerald status was achieved for their sustainable ethos, including their community initiatives Going Well programme for local schools, employing local people, and hosting events. On a practical level, managing our water consumption, wastewater, general waste and energy consumption which results in a significant reduction of landfill waste, energy consumption and water consumption. Over the past 30 years, their tree planting has created a new habitat for birds and other wildlife. Native Irish red squirrels have moved into our garden and other wildlife. They also abide by the Leave No Trace programme.

To find out more, go to https://michaelcusack.ie/

Michael Cusack Centre

Michael Cusack Centre

Moher Cottage

As a business, we take great pride in our active contributions to the local economy—not only through employing team members that live locally and sourcing services and produce from the area but also by supporting community initiatives. One of our key sponsorships includes the Liscannor ladies GAA team, for whom we have proudly provided training tops over the past two years, and are excited to sponsor a brand new set of jerseys this year. Our commitment goes beyond business—it’s about enriching and sustaining the vibrant life of our village Liscannor, where we not only work but also live.

Catriona and Kevin Considine at Moher Cottage. Photograph by Eamon Ward

Newtown Castle

Slieve Elva B&B

Slieve Elva B&B is Ireland’s first Gold certified sustainable B&B recognised by the Global Sustainable Council. By installing a solar PV range, switching to BioLPG, an electric car and several smaller actions to reduce our energy use we’ve managed to lower our carbon footprint by over 90%. We pride ourselves on using all local produce where possible and offer a variety of homemade and home-baked goods (jams, breads, yoghurt, buter, granola,..). On top of that we grow vegetables and herbs in our greenhouse where we also use our own generated compost and we re-purpose eggshells and coffee grinds. At Slieve Elva B&B we don’t use any chemicals, and only use eco-certified biodegradable products for our laundry, dishwasher, toiletries, cleaning and in our garden.

we’re actively involved in our local community, sports groups and youth clubs. We help out with cleanup events through the Burren Ecotourism Network and Tidy Towns and support local organisations like schools, sports clubs, and the Burrenbeo Trust. In line with the All Ireland Pollinator Plan we have several actions in place to enhance biodiversity through pollinator-friendly planting and meadow and wildflower patches, a native heritage apple orchard, a natural organic pond and we actively report sightings to the National Biodiversity Data Centre.

To learn more, go to https://slieveelva.com/EN/environment

St Tola Irish Goat Cheese

We believe passionately in sustainable farming. Although it is more expensive and labour intensive than conventional farming, the principles and methods employed promote practices which co-exist with natural systems and help protect and enhance the environment in which we live.

The St Tola herd of Saanen, Toggenburg and British Alpine goats are reared on 65 acres of unspoiled pastureland – considered some of the finest and purest farmland of its type in Europe. Outdoors, they graze on the herb rich pastures feeding on wild flowers such as buttercups, meadow sweet and wild garlic. During the harsh winter, they are housed indoors in comfortable, clean, spacious sheds and are fed on a balanced mix of hay produced on the farm and non GMO grains. All our kids are hand reared after a long weaning period on their mother’s milk. Our strict farming practices, housing and hygiene criteria guarantee we have a happy and healthy herd!

We are proud to love and support the humans, animals and plants which live in our area of County Clare

  • Gold at the Great Taste Awards 2022.
  • Finalist at Blas na hEireann 2022.
  • Gold at the Irish Cheese Awards 2021 for Log and Divine.

For more information, go to https://www.st-tola.ie/sustainability

Vaughan’s Anchor Inn

We serve fish and shellfish landed in Liscannor and Doolin, salads from the Burren, seaweed from Quilty and potatoes from Kilrush, so the names Garrihy’s, Celtic Salads, Wild Irish Seaweed and Pyne’s Potatoes are always on our menus. St. Tola goat’s cheese from Inagh is one of our favourites.

At Vaughan’s we work to an Environmental Action Plan that we look at carefully every year to review our actions and our targets for improvement.  We have effective systems to monitor and manage our waste, water, wastewater, energy, travel impact and purchases. Vaughan’s Anchor Inn now has a high-efficiency convection oven that has dramatically reduced our energy usage. We use BioLPG, have a strict recycling policy, and, for more than 15 years, we’ve used solar panels at the Anchor Inn to heat our water.

Every ounce of our take-away packaging in Spooney’s and across the businesses is compostable, from our ice-cream tubs to our fish and chips packaging and our coffee cups.

It’s important to make sure that tourism in our part of the world makes a positive social contribution so that it benefits our wider community as well as our guests. To give a little back, we love to sponsor local sports such as Moher Celtic and getting involved in organising the John Vaughan Memorial Cup.

For more information go to: www.vaughans.ie