Ireland’s ongoing Decade of Centenaries commemorations are having a positive impact on the Jackie Clarke Collection with a heightened interest in the country’s past reflected in a surge in visitor numbers at the renowned Ballina-based visitor attraction.
The Clarke Collection has just revealed that it welcomed 40,385 visitors in 2019, representing an outstanding 30% increase on the figures for 2018.
2019 was a particularly historic centenary year, commemorating the outbreak of the Irish War of Independence and the Clarke Collection marked the event in January of that year with a new exhibition of the War of Independence artifacts featured in the collection of the late Ballina businessman, Jackie Clarke. It included some items never seen publicly before.
Jackie Clarke Collection manager, Edel Healy, paid tribute to the collection’s hard-working staff and volunteers for the successful year in 2019.
While the facility has enjoyed a small but steady increase in visitor numbers since 2016, the 30% jump in numbers last year is attributable to several factors, she stressed.
The centenary of the War of Independence saw the facility’s community events and education workshops being over-subscribed but there was a huge increase in general in visitors to the north Mayo area last year.
Ms Healy noted that the visitor number growth was sustained throughout the peak and off peak months and brought a mix of domestic visitors and groups from other counties as well as international tourists travelling the Wild Atlantic Way.
She also paid tribute to the collection’s extensive community programme, led by community development liaison and volunteer coordinator, Anne Marie Forbes, as another positive impact on visitor numbers and noted that this growth, in turn, generates a boost for other businesses in Ballina.
Sinead Brennan, education co-ordinator, noted that there has been an increase in younger visitors to the collection too thanks to in-term workshops and specialist summer camps.
Workshops at the Clarke Collection are free for schools and tailored to suit all ages.
The facility is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm.
For more information visit www.clarkecollection.ie.