Multi-million euro Limerick tourism strategy unveiled to cautious council welcome

Nick Rabbitts

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Nick Rabbitts

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nick.rabbitts@limerickleader.ie

The new multi-million euro visitor strategy was unveiled this week, the same week as the news of the cancellation of Foynes Air Show

The new multi-million euro visitor strategy was unveiled this week, the same week as the news of the cancellation of Foynes Air Show

IN a week in which one of Limerick’s blue riband tourist events was shelved, a new multi-million euro visitor strategy has been unveiled by the Council.

There was dismay this week following the cancellation of the Foynes Air Show due to the lack of a main sponsor.

At this week’s council meeting, local authority bosses presented the tourism development plan, which has a range of objectives, including a goal to increase visitors to 1.1m per annum, and tourism revenue to €360m by 2023. On top of this, the plan is tasked with bringing 1,500 new tourism-related jobs.

The comprehensive document has four themes to it – looking at waterways; activities; history and heritage and arts and cultural events.

Each of these themes will be ‘clustered’, for example, historic clusters will look at the historic core of the city, the Stone Mansion in Kilmallock, Nicholas Street and the Shannon Erne Pilgrim Way.

Cllr Sean Lynch said he is disappointed Ballybrown and his home place of Patrickswell were not included.

He pointed out recently RTE’s Nationwide spent a whole day filming in the area.​

“Don’t forget about the GAA either,” Cllr Lynch, whose son Cian hurls for Limerick said. “It’s the rock in every village and every town. It’s part of our heritage, it’s internationally recognised, and it’s been granted heritage status.”​

Independent councillor Lisa-Marie Sheehy acknowledged the plan is well balanced between city and county, but said “opportunities” have been lost from the blueprint, saying the Ballyhoura horse tracks should have been included.

Labour’s city west member Joe Leddin said Shannon has “a critical role to play”. 

“People get on buses there and their next stop is Killarney. It’s a huge problem for us,” he said.

Fine Gael councillor John Sheahan has said the strategy will finally allow some joined-up thinking in West Limerick.

“West Limerick has been totally neglected. Clare and Limerick tourism only ever came as far as Adare. Cork and Kerry tourism only ever came as far as Killarney or Tralee, and the whole of West Limerick and North Kerry has no strategy. With the advent of the Wild Atlantic Way, this changed the dynamic,” he said.

Cllr Sheahan said it should finally mean visitors to West Limerick will be aware of everything that is there.

“If they arrive in Foynes for the Flying Boat Museum for example, people might not necessarily know that Glin Castle is back the road or Desmond Castle is in Newcastle West.

“This strategy will be the cog in the wheel in that people will know exactly what is happening from a tourism point of view,” Cllr Sheahan said.

Independent member Emmett O’Brien urged more signage for viewing points along the Shannon Estuary, describing it as an “untapped resource”.

Gordon Daly, who presented the strategy, said it was not possible to include every single tourist attraction in the county – it has, he argued, to be a short, sharp document, to keep stakeholders interested.