THE Shannon Group has revealed it is seeking some €6.4m from government to keep King John’s Castle and Bunratty Castle and Folk Park open through the winter.
As it stands, the attractions will close as of September 1 after the coronavirus pandemic saw tourism numbers to Ireland decimated.
However, following local opposition to the move, the group put together an application for funding which it’s hoping the government will respond.
In a statement released this Tuesday afternoon, Shannon Group chief executive Mary Considine confirmed the group made a submission to the Department of Transport in July about securing the viability of both heritage sites and is in daily discussions with government in an attempt to secure the funding to keep Bunratty Castle and King John’s Castle open to the public.
“Both sites are very important to the local economy and to tourism in the region and Shannon Group is doing everything it can to keep the two heritage sites open,” she said, “Shannon Heritage, which runs both sites, will require total funding of €6.4m to June 2021 when a pick-up in visitor numbers usually occurs.”
Ms Considine praised the employees of Shannon Heritage for their “Trojan” work in “very difficult and challenging times”.
“When the government brought forward their reopening plan to June 29, staff rallied to assist with getting the sites ready. Despite a major marketing campaign and a slight bounce in domestic visitors it hasn’t made-up for the loss of our international customers. Our focus now is on protecting our employees’ jobs in the long-term, which requires difficult short-term decision so that we can survive, recover and rebuild,” said the group chief.
She did confirm that unless government support is made available, both tourist attractions will close at the end of the month.
“However it is our desire to keep both Bunratty Castle & Folk Park and King John’s Castle open beyond the traditional summer season this year. That is why, given the significant losses that will be made during off-season, we have made a submission to government seeking funding to enable us continue operations at the sites. We urgently await the outcome of that request and in the meantime are exploring all options around the viability of these facilities beyond 2020,” Ms Considine concluded.