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The east's answer to the Wild Atlantic Way is 'Ireland's Ancient East'

The new tourism programme aims to attract 600,000 overseas visitors.

Newgrange
Newgrange
Image: Fáilte Ireland

‘IRELAND’S ANCIENT EAST’ is the new tourism initiative launched today by Minister for Tourism Paschal Donohoe and Minister of State, Michael Ring.

Following the success of the Wild Atlantic Way, this new tourism programme aims to attract tourists to the east and south of the country, a region Fáilte Ireland said is being bypassed.

Tourism

Fáilte Ireland has spent the last year working in consultation with key stakeholders to develop the initiative including tourism attractions and businesses throughout the region.

CCjFoCqW4AAg5YO Source: Fáilte Ireland

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The area includes the region east of the Shannon and east of the M9 motorway and everything in between.

It stretches from Newgrange and the Boyne Valley in the north east and ranging through the midlands all the way down via Kilkenny’s Medieval mile to Waterford’s Viking Quarter and Cork’s many cultural attractions, explained Paul Keeley from Failte Ireland.

Dublin has its own separate initiative.

Source: FailteIrelandTV/YouTube

Fáilte Ireland’s research suggests the initiative has the potential to deliver an extra 600,000 overseas visitors to the region and increase visitor revenue by almost 25% to €950 million in total by 2020.

Ireland’s Ancient East will be crafted along four distinct thematic pillars:

  • Ancient Ireland - The Dawn of Civilisation, including the prehistoric attractions of the Boyne Valley in Newgrange and sites such as the Brownshill Dolmen in Carlow
  • Early Christian Ireland Sites such as Clonmacnoise, Glendalough, Mellifont abbey, Jerpoint Abbey, St.Canice’s Cathedral and Holycross Abbey
  • Medieval Ireland Sites such as Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile, the Viking Quarter in Waterford, Hook Head Lighthouse, Trim Castle and the Rock of Cashel
  • Anglo Ireland Ireland’s Great Houses and Gardens as well as sites such as the Dunbrody Famine Ship and Wicklow Gaol

Source: FailteIrelandTV/YouTube

The role out of the plan will include a signage strategy, a digital marketing initiative, such as an app that will geo-locate areas that people are near and should visit, as well as a remedial capitol works programme for some sites to improve the visitor experience.

Grant scheme

There will also be a small grants scheme for public and private partners.

Development workshops and interpretation programmes will be rolled out in communities to assist business and communities in telling the stories of their locality, which is what Fáilte Ireland says is Ireland’s unique selling point.

Hiking at Glendalough Source: Fáilte Ireland/Neal houghton

Speaking at the launch today Minister Donohue said that 20% of Ireland’s tourists travel through the region, but only 10% actually spend. He said this is something Ireland’s Ancient East programme hopes to change.

Keeley said that it is about making people stick around in the region and encourage them to see sites and not just use it as a “transit zone” to the west.

Fáilte Ireland want to promote not just the “blockbuster sites” in the region such as Newgrange and Glendalough, but promote smaller tertiary sites in the counties that tourists might be unfamiliar with.

Attracting visitors

Minister Donohoe today said:

With the great amount of history and heritage in such a relatively compact area, ‘Ireland’s Ancient East’ will allow us to seriously build on the assets we have in the east and south – and the significant investment which has been made in tourism attractions in the region over the last few years.

While appealing to a different type of a visitor, I am confident that Ireland’s Ancient East will prove as effective and popular as the Wild Atlantic Way and will deliver significant additional numbers of visitors, revenue and jobs to the region.

Minister of State for Tourism and sport, Michael Ring TD was passionate in his speech about the new plan, stating that he wanted local businesses, communities and local authorities to get on board with the idea.

“If people don’t buy into this, it won’t happen,” he said, adding he hoped there would be no criticism about the product.”

I believe that it will prove to be as significant a game-changer for the east and south of Ireland as the Wild Atlantic Way has been for the west.

Unveiling the programme to international buyers last night, Fáilte Ireland said feedback has been very positive.

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