VISITOR numbers at King John’s Castle have doubled since it reopened in the summer following a €6m redevelopment.
According to Shannon Heritage, the castle which now hosts a state-of-the art visitor centre with a variety of interactive and historic facilities has attracted over 40,000 visitors since the end of June when it reopened.
Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, who performed the official reopening, says the redeveloped castle, which was build in 1210, is now the “jewel in the crown” of Limerick’s portfolio of visitor attractions.
“It’s an amazing magnet for visitors coming to Limerick and I hope it will enhance our city and will enhance the tourist industry in the city and act as a magnet to attract lots of people here,” he said.
Mr Noonan added that he was impressed with the completed project which he said is “right up there to international standards”.
Around 100 construction jobs were created during the redevelopment works and 27 people are now employed diat the castle - compared to a handful previously.
John Ruddle, chief executive of Shannon Heritage, which manages the castle, said he is thrilled with the increase in visitor numbers at the castle.
“We are delighted with visitor numbers to-date at King John’s Castle which have exceeded our expectations. We have had more visitors in the first four months since reopening than we would normally have in a full year,” he said.
Mr Ruddle told those who attended the official opening that he expects visitor numbers at King John’s Castle to grow even further next year and he announced that for the first time a deal has been done with CIE Tours for 2014.
Aidan Pender, director of strategic development at Fáilte Ireland, said the redevelopment of King John’s Castle is the first of a number of similar projects around the country to be completed.
“It is a great day for Limerick and it is unquestionable in my mind that this is an enormous contribution to tourism and tourism development in Limerick.”
In addition to being able to see the physical structure of King John’s Castle, the new attraction also provides a time-travel experience which uses the latest technology to give people a unique opportunity to explore Limerick and the Castle as never before.
It is an exciting ultra modern visitor experience with a dramatic history of over 800 years of stories.
There is a stunning ‘looking glass’ exhibition area which provides a window to the past. Here people can walk through the historical exhibitions with people outside able to look in and people inside will be able to look out.
King John’s Castle is open all year round.