LIMERICK will go up against at least three other cities for the right to build an ‘iconic’ national Diaspora centre capable of attracting 300,000 visitors a year.
Limerick’s local authorities and the Shannon Airport Authority have teamed in a bid to secure the centre, which is intended to boast 3,000 square feet of exhibition space.
Bids are being invited and, as well as Limerick, indications are that Cork, Birr and Dun Laoghaire will follow suit and lodge expressions of interest in the project.
Consultants are currently being engaged to work on the Limerick project. Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar has indicated that the process will start before the end of the year, with a view to a decision being made in the middle of next year.
Limerick TD Kieran O’Donnell brought the matter up in the Dail last week and said that the project would “provide the ideal legacy for Ireland’s first City of Culture, bringing with it long-term economic benefits for Limerick”.
“I specifically brought the proposed Limerick bid to his attention and the importance of the joint bid and the appropriate nature with regard to the legacy of City of Culture,” he explained.
“We had a lengthy engagement on it. If secured for Limerick it would be a great endorsement for City of Culture, for Limerick and for Ireland ‘Inc’ abroad.”
The likelihood is that Failte Ireland will oversee the process on behalf of the State and the bid process will set out how much money will be available for it.
“They will be seeking to establish a centre that has 3,000 sq feet of exhibition space and can attract up to 300,000 visitors a year,” said Deputy O’Donnell.
“They will be looking for a location close to a large urban centre with a concentration of tourists, good transport connections that is close to the sea and has a good spread of cafes and bars. I think Limerick city can tick all of those boxes,” he said.