A proposal for a multi-million euro Salmon Life Centre in Ballina has fallen short of qualifying for funding under the Fáilte Ireland Platforms for Growth capital investment programme.
The development was first proposed over 10 years ago as a means of monopolising on Ballina’s status as the official salmon capital of Ireland thanks to the renowned angling on the River Moy.
It was the subject of a €50,000 feasibility study in 2008 but the vision for the initiative was recently revamped to take account of changing times and how technology has revolutionised the experience of visitor attractions.
The updated proposal for the Salmon Life Centre provided for a visitor centre that would employ cutting-edge interactive technology including augmented reality to explain the life cycle of the wild Atlantic salmon as well as addressing the themes of climate, clean seas, environmental responsibility and conservation.
The facility would attract a range of visitors including anglers, eco-tourists, students, researchers, families and more.
The launch of Fáilte Ireland’s Platforms for Growth programme last May was deemed an ideal opportunity to secure the required funding for the development. The €150m fund is geared at helping develop visitor attractions of scale as well as enhancing existing ones.
However, Tom Gilligan, Mayo County Council’s director of services for the Ballina area, confirmed last Friday that only 15% of applications under the programme will proceed to stage three of the adjudication process and the Salmon Life Centre is not one of them.
He said the project was a great one that would be a good addition to the growing visitor offering in Ballina alongside the planned Mary Robinson Centre and the Innovation Quarter.
Mr Gilligan said the council will revisit the proposal in the new year to ascertain what other potential funding mechanisms can be explored.
Concillor Michael Loftus, cathaoirleach of the Ballina Municipal District, said the council had compiled an excellent funding application for the Salmon Life Centre. He is extremely disappointed that Fáilte Ireland does not see the benefit of a visitor attraction of that kind in a town that is the official salmon capital of Ireland if not Europe.