Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar has confirmed that Failte Ireland has approved more than €6.7 million in funding for significant tourism projects in the Boyne Valley, Kilkenny and Westport.
Failte Ireland, which determines where tourism capital grants are invested, has allocated the funding under the Tourism Capital Investment Programme. They include an extensive range of projects in Kilkenny city including a new riverside garden and exhibition centre, while high-tech displays and a virtual Book of Kells will be provided in the Boyne Valley.
And in Westport, funding has been allocated to develop a Cultural Centre in the old Town Hall and provide year-round entertainment and activities.
“This funding proves the Government’s ongoing commitment to investing in tourism. It’s crucial that we offer top-quality attractions, particularly in areas with a strong tourism base, so that we can compete for tourists in the tough international market. These three projects are very different, but they are all innovative. Each is also tailor-made for its specific area. I’m delighted that Fáilte Ireland has signed off on these investments,” Minister Varadkar said.
In Kilkenny almost €5.6 million is being invested in developing an exhibition centre in St Mary’s Church, along with a River Garden Walk and tourist friendly Streetscape improvements. These are part of a broader plan to tell the story of Kilkenny’s distinctive cultural heritage:
• St Mary’s Church will be developed as a significant exhibition space, and a tourist attraction in its own right. The project will also safeguard the future of this historic building;
• A linear riverside garden will be developed to link the castle grounds in the north of Kilkenny, with the newly refurbished canal walk in the south. The garden will be created at riverbank level, with a parallel riverside boardwalk. It will be divided into distinct plots which will echo the gardens of the Medieval City;
• The final element of Kilkenny’s approved projects is to improve the streetscape and make the centre of the city more appealing for visitors.
In the Boyne Valley, funding of €243,601 will be invested in interactive displays and films in the existing visitor centres at the Tholsel Building in Drogheda and the Kells Heritage Centre, with the aim of encouraging visitors to explore and spend longer in the region.
An interactive wall will be installed in each centre. This will incorporate four 46 inch flat screen displays, measuring six feet across. The display will show a map of the Boyne Valley, highlighting local sites according to themes like ‘struggles and sieges’, ‘conflict and war’, and ‘myths and legends’. The displays will also show the Boyne Valley Driving Route.
Other displays will focus on pictures of the Boyne Valley, while visitors will be able to leave comments about the area. Models of Drogheda and Kells will also be installed in the respective visitor centres, along with new short films focusing on local tourism sites and featuring interviews with local people. In Kells there will be an interactive display on the Book of Kells, allowing them to scroll through a virtual version of the Book.
In Westport €920,000 is being provided toward the development of Westport Cultural Centre. This new centre is also being backed by the local authority, and will provide year-round activities and events for visitors to Westport. The centre will be based in the Town Hall, which is currently not being utilised.