Irish Development Body Seeks US Investors for New Irish Theme Park

March 21, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015
CHEERS! US President Barack Obama (R) toasts with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny during a reception in the East Room of the White House on March 20th, 2012 in Washington, D.C. (Mike Theiler-Pool/Getty Images)
CHEERS! US President Barack Obama (R) toasts with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny during a reception in the East Room of the White House on March 20th, 2012 in Washington, D.C. (Mike Theiler-Pool/Getty Images)

Following a recent investment drive in the US centred around the recent St Patrick’s Day celebrations, Ireland’s Shannon Development has announced plans for a major visitor attraction on a 120 acre site next to the world-famous Bunratty Castle and Folk Park in County Clare in Ireland’s scenic west. Shannon Development is the economic development agency and tourism authority for the Shannon Region.

Commenting on the announcement, the Chief Executive of Shannon Development, Dr Vincent Cunnane, said: “Shannon Heritage, our tourism subsidiary company, owns and manages Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, which is already a major international visitor attraction. It attracts 400,000 visitors and contributes an estimate 20 million euro in spin-off revenue for the area annually. We want to see a new generation of project ideas which will continue to enhance Bunratty and the Shannon Region’s reputation as an international visitor destination. The Bunratty Landbank project forms part of our overall tourism product development strategy, which, amongst other projects, will this year see work start on a 5.7 million euro re-development of King John’s Castle in Limerick.”

The Bunratty Landbank initiative was launched in the US last week as part of an overall investment campaign for the Bunratty project and other tourism initiatives in the region. 

Dr Cunnane was one of the leaders of the US investment and promotional initiative, which included a series of meetings and presentations with selected members of the Irish community in the US, many of whom Shannon Development has signed up to act as business ambassadors for Ireland and the Shannon Region. 

Highlighting the importance of the Bunratty Landbank project, Mr Flan Quilligan, Tourism Product Development Manager at Shannon Development, said:

“We believe that a significant opportunity exists at our Bunratty Landbank site to develop complementary and sustainable visitor facilities and attractions which are in keeping with the authenticity of the existing visitor attraction and surrounding area. The site is zoned for tourism development by Clare County Council and we look forward to receiving expressions of interest and a range of potential project ideas.”

Research carried out by Shannon Development has identified a number of possible suitable projects for the site, among them a diaspora visitor centre and genealogy centre, and a themed family adventure park.

Research undertaken by Shannon Development has indicated that there may be an opportunity to develop a ‘one-stop-shop’ for visitors to learn as much as possible about Ireland’s history and culture in one location. It is estimated that the available market for cultural tourism in Ireland from the main source markets of Britain, the United States, France and Germany is vast and has excellent growth potential. Sample themes/interpretation spaces could include, ‘Ireland and the World’ or ‘A Timeline of Irish History’, while other possibilities include a diaspora centre, a genealogy centre & county hall of fame, a culture and activity orientation centre, as well as retail outlets, restaurants etc. Alternative proposals which could include variations to these preferred options may also be considered.

Interested parties can make a project submission regarding the Bunratty Landbank site as part of a two stage tendering process.