Darren Smyth of the Shannon Group and Kieran Moore of Martins Constructions pictured at Bunratty
A €1m facelift for Bunratty Castle and Folk Park will ‘enhance the visitor experience’ for the growing numbers attending the attraction, according to the Shannon Group.
The body, which operates the 15th century castle and neighbouring folk park through Shannon Heritage, has confirmed that Bunratty is to undergo a “major upgrade”, with an extended retail store, a new cafe, an extended entrance and refurbished admissions building.
“The build will enclose and cover the existing courtyard area at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park and create a state of the art retail store and cafe, along with a new entrance and admissions hall,” said Andrew Murphy, chief commercial officer of the Shannon Group.
“The store will offer a high end giftware range of contemporary Irish products. The cafe will of course be open to the public and you don’t have to pay an admission fee to Bunratty – it is open to local traffic. We hope it will create an additional lunchtime dining option in Bunratty and enhance the visitor experience to the area.”
Construction has already started on the upgrade, with workers on site. The upgraded facility is also set to house a design gallery to assist and promote emerging talented Irish designers.
Group Head of Retail Darren Smyth said it would provide an “exciting opportunity for upcoming young Irish designers to showcase their brands to an international audience at the new state of the art retail store”.
“We will be incorporating an Irish design gallery to help promote up-and-coming talented Irish craftspeople. In addition to stocking their brand, we will incorporate an information panel on the craftsperson beside their products.
“One of the key objectives behind the investment and design is that the new store would showcase the best of contemporary Irish products, including the work of talented local artisan crafts people in addition to the very best Irish products.”
Among the new elements will be a state of the art jewellery store, the rolling out of the recently launched Mr O’Regan’s food emporium at Shannon Airport, plus a range of Irish clothing, including such well-known brands as Carraig Donn and Avoca.
Shannon Heritage recently announced an increase of over 8% in visitor numbers for 2015. Overall, it saw seven day time and four evening attractions across Clare, Dublin, Galway and Limerick draw 692,000 visitors last year, with day visitor attractions up over 11%. Included in that was a 22% increase year on year in visitor numbers at King John’s Castle, with over 104,000 visits to the site.
It is gearing up also to open a new €10m GPO Witness History visitor attraction on O’Connell Street in Dublin in time for the 1916 centenary commemorations at Easter.
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