A €73m investment in four Irish visitor attractions announced today is “the most significant ever undertaken by Fáilte Ireland”, according to Tourism Minister, Catherine Martin.
he attractions will include a new visitor experience at the source of the River Shannon, and a €36.1m “reimagining” of Westport House in Co Mayo.
A proposed funicular at Fort Dunree in Co Donegal is described as “the only one in Ireland”, and will offer visitors a “thrilling ascent” to the High Fort and stunning views over Lough Swilly.
In Dublin, an €18.1m investment will create ‘This is Ireland’, an immersive “edutainment” experience culminating in a simulated “flight” using state-of-the-art technology.
The projects are being announced under Fáilte Ireland’s Platforms for Growth scheme, which was launched in 2019 as a €150m effort to create a new generation of “hero” tourist attractions on a scale similar to iconic creations like Titanic Belfast or the Guinness Storehouse.
The four “best in class” projects were chosen after a competitive application process, and will deliver up to 8,000 jobs, attract over €290m in tourist revenue and help extend the tourism season and spread visitors beyond traditional hotspots, according to Fáilte Ireland, which is providing €44.3m of the total investment.
Driving regional tourism growth “is more important than ever as we rebuild the sector and recover from the devastation of Covid-19”, said Paul Kelly, its CEO.
All projects must begin within two years, under the scheme.
Fort Dunree & Head, Co Donegal
A €12.5m visitor experience at Buncrana’s Fort Dunree & Head “will showcase its considerable maritime, military, social and political history,” Fáilte Ireland says. Attractions already include the High Fort with watchtowers providing 360-degree views, “one of the best collections of coastal guns in the world”, military memorabilia and its lighthouse. A proposed funicular, “which will be the only one in Ireland”, will offer visitors a “thrilling ascent” to the High Fort. A glass walkway “bridging two elements of the site” is also proposed by the applicant, Donegal County Council.
‘This is Ireland’, Dublin
The €18.1m ‘This Is Ireland’ attraction in Dublin’s North City Centre is based on similar large-scale experiences in Amsterdam and Vancouver. It will consist of multiple shows, “with its principal feature being a simulated flight experience”, Fáilte Ireland says. Ireland’s story will be told in a “breathtaking way” by developer Western Attractions Ltd, with the “edutainment” experience culminating in a “flight” using state-of-the-art flight simulation and audio-visual technology.
Westport House Estate & Gardens, Co Mayo
Grace O’Malley’s former home in Co Mayo is getting a €36.1m “reimagining”, to include “a multi-layered, multi-day experience”, as applied for by Inishoo Management Ltd. A highlight is a ‘Wild Realms’ project allowing visitors “to connect with nature and absorb the vibrant sights, smells and sounds of the wild flora and native woodlands across the estate”. A restoration of the house and gardens, along with a rewilding of the estate, will grow this hero attraction on the Wild Atlantic Way, where visitors can also learn about the pirate queen’s family.
Shannon Pot & Cavan Burren Park, Co Cavan
The Shannon Pot Discovery Centre and Cavan Burren Park will deliver a “world class visitor experience” in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, Fáilte Ireland says. The €6.4m visitor experience, applied for by Cavan County Council in partnership with Coillte, will enhance the existing park – with an elevated viewing platform, among other additions – and develop a brand new visitor attraction at the source of the River Shannon, interpreting its heritage, culture, and influence on Irish life, people, society and landscape “from the earliest settlers to modern day”.