Thursday, June 10, 2021

The Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin and Fáilte Ireland today announced a total investment of €36.1million to develop a new world-class tourist attraction at Westport House and Garden Estate. Fáilte Ireland is investing €20.2million into the project.

Over the first 5 years of operation this project will generate €33m in direct tourism expenditure supporting 1,000 jobs in the area and 66 new jobs will be created at the attraction.

The restoration and reimagining of the Westport House and Gardens Estate will offer visitors a multi-layered, multi-day experience. A key element is the ‘Wild Realms’ project which will allow visitors to connect with nature and absorb the vibrant sights, smells and sounds of the wild flora and native woodlands across the estate.

The new attraction over the 300-acre estate will allow visitors to explore ancient Irish rituals and our ancestors’ connections to the land as told through a series of accessible wild and natural spaces. Westport House and Gardens will also be restored. Visitors can enjoy the enhanced experience of the grand house with its formal gardens and learn about the Grace O’Malley family who lived there for centuries.

The Mayo project is just one of four projects announced by Minister Martin as part of a €73million investment programme under Fáilte Ireland’s *Platforms for Growth Investment Grants Scheme for Immersive Heritage and Cultural Attractions. Fáilte Ireland is investing €44.3million and a total match funding of €29million from public and private project partners.

Attractions in Cavan, Donegal and Dublin were also successful applicants under the Scheme.

All four new and strategically important large-scale visitor attractions will unlock regional dispersal of visitors and extend the tourism season in these regions beyond the traditional summer months.

The unique attractions that have been offered Fáilte Ireland investment funding are:

Shannon Pot & Cavan Burren Park, Blacklion, Co. Cavan – €4.8million Fáilte Ireland investment
Fort Dunree & Head, Buncrana, Co. Donegal – €9.3million Fáilte Ireland investment
‘This is Ireland’ North City Centre, Dublin 1 – €10million Fáilte Ireland investment
Westport House Estate & Gardens, Westport, Co. Mayo -€20.2million Failte Ireland investment

Up to 8,000 direct and indirect jobs are set to be created and sustained across the regional economy over the next 10 years as a result of this investment and it’s expected over €290million will be generated from domestic and international visitors. Fáilte Ireland’s economic analysis states every €1million spent by tourists helps to supports 27 jobs in the Irish tourism sector.

Minister Catherine Martin said: “Today’s significant funding announcement will ensure world-class visitor attractions are created that will attract domestic and international tourists to the four locations which will not just benefit the counties where they’re located but will motivate people to stay longer and explore more widely across the region. This investment in creative and impactful large-scale visitor experiences is critical to strengthening Ireland’s reputation internationally as a must-visit holiday destination and provides a catalyst for further innovation in the tourism sector. This is the most significant investment in visitor attractions ever undertaken by Fáilte Ireland that will have far-reaching national and regional economic benefits.”

Paul Kelly, CEO of Fáilte Ireland added:

“Driving regional tourism growth has always been a key priority for Fáilte Ireland but it is now more important than ever as we rebuild the sector and recover from the devastation of Covid19. The aim of the Platforms for Growth 1 funding scheme is to grow Ireland’s stock of large-scale visitor attractions to appeal to both domestic and international visitors. The standard of applications received for this Scheme was incredibly high and we are encouraged by the level of innovation and creativity demonstrated. The four awarded projects are truly best-in-class. They are diverse, engaging and unique and will help visitors connect with Ireland and bring the country’s vibrant culture, heritage and people to life.”

Barry O’Connor, CEO of Westport House and Garden Estate said:

“We are incredibly proud that Westport Estate has been chosen to receive this Fáilte Ireland grant. The funding, along with the investment from the Hughes family, will enable us to take our offering to the next level and transform Westport Estate into a world-class tourism destination. We have an exciting vision for the project which includes the restoration of Westport House and the reimagining of its 300-year history, along with a brand-new immersive visitor experience that will tell the story of the legendary Grace O’Malley, the Pirate Queen of Connaught. In partnership with acclaimed designer Mary Reynolds, we will also be creating a very different and uniquely Irish landscape experience connecting the earth with Irish heritage. This public private partnership will have an enormous positive impact on Westport and the wider region.”

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