No Folly in ambitious tourism project to boost West Limerick town

Norma Prendiville

Reporter:

Norma Prendiville

The iconic Fuller’s Folly: Bought by Limerick City & County Council

The iconic Fuller’s Folly: Bought by Limerick City & County Council

NEWCASTLE West can expect a bold and ambitious tourism project to come on stream over the next couple of years which will help to attract and keep increased numbers of visitors in the town.

The as yet unidentified project will centre around Fuller’s Folly, the iconic building located on the bridge and which was bought by Limerick City and County Council in 2017. And the €338,000 funding from the Rural Regeneration and Development Scheme, announced at the weekend, will help get the project off the ground.

Meantime however, the council has invited expressions of interest from local artists, craft workers or business people to run a tourist information service in tandem with a craft shop/artist studio business in Fullers Folly in the upcoming tourist season.

The council is proposing that the dual business would run every day of the high tourist season this year, from May 3 to September 6.

“The proposed Tourist Office will be ideally located to serve the increasing number of tourists and visitors who are coming to West Limerick,” director of services, Gordon Daly said, adding that the proposal links in with  Newcastle West Vision 2023, the town’s five-year plan. It also fits in well with the new Limerick Tourism Strategy which will exploit and develop Limerick’s tourism potential.

“This is an exciting opportunity for Newcastle West to become a gateway for tourists in West Limerick,” he stressed.

Any craft or artistic discipline is welcome as an anchor tenant, Mr  Daly continued. However, he said: “Limerick City and County Council is keen to avoid competition with existing retailing outlets in the town, and the product should be complementary to the space and to the existing offer available in Newcastle West.”  

Since it acquired the building,  the council has spent up to €100,000 in securing the Folly, built in 1859, sealing windows and roof and repointing walls. The council has also commissioned an Options Survey, to look at different potential uses for the building.

This survey, Mr Daly explained, had been used to leverage funds from the Rural Regeneration and Development Scheme.

Mr Daly welcomed the€338,000 funding announced by Minister of State, Patrick O’Donovan at the weekend. “ It is great news for the town and a significant vote of confidence in the town,” Mr Daly said.

“This could be a game-changer,” he said. “It  shows that tourism in West LImerick will be supported and that is good.”  

The money, he continued, will be used,  “to kick start a more significant tourism development on the site”. This, Mr Daly predicted, would be an ambitious project that would  include examining options for linkages with the Desmond Castle and other aspects of the town centre of interest to visitors.

“West Limerick has a wealth of tourist attractions and sites, with Newcastle West at its core,” Mr Daly continued.  

Over the past number of years, visitor numbers to the Desmond Castle complex had continued to grow and reached 15,613 last year, he pointed out. The area also had other local attractions and offerings including the Demesne, the Great Southern Greenway and the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum, he said.

The closing date for expressions of interest in the Fuller’s Folly proposal is Friday, March 8. Details and further information are available from Caoibhe Duignan at 061 557128 and caoibhe.duignan@limerick.ie.