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OPW enlisting voluntary groups to develop heritage sites

Brian Hayes said the OPW does not have the resources to exploit the historical sites’ full potential for tourists.

Kilkenny Castle is a major attraction - but Hayes said other sites are under-developed
Kilkenny Castle is a major attraction - but Hayes said other sites are under-developed
Image: Irish Typepad via Flickr

THE OFFICE OF Public Works is hoping to enlist local voluntary groups to work at heritage sites around the country.

The involvement of volunteers could boost tourism by allowing heritage attractions to offer extended opening hours and improved guide services, junior minister Brian Hayes said.

He said that many sites had been restored “brilliantly” by the OPW, but that it did not have the resources to develop them further as attractions.

“The truth is that funding for extending opening times or extending the excellent guide service are simply not there,” Hayes said.

Nor will they be over the next few years. If we want more domestic or international tourists to visit our fantastic sites, we need the help of community groups.

Hayes, the Minister of State with responsibility for the OPW, said that volunteers were an integral part of heritage tourism in many other European countries but that Ireland “for whatever reason has never involved voluntary effort”.

The OPW is now seeking to make contact with voluntary organisations which are interested in partnering on a local heritage site. Hayes said many OPW-owned sites are not fulfilling their full potential as tourist attractions.

“While everyone knows the Rock of Cashel or Kilkenny castle, there are literally dozens of other amazing sites which have been restored brilliantly by the OPW and which need to be developed,” he said.

More: What location is featured in the earliest depiction of an Irish city?>

Column: Yes, centenaries are tourism gold but let’s not forget our past for a quick buck>

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Michael Freeman

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