Ardnacrusha power station | PICTURE: ADRIAN BUTLER
THE ESB is undertaking a feasibility study which could lead to a new “visitor experience” at Ardnacrusha.
Clare TDs received a briefing where he was told the electricity board is looking to establish the case for a new “world class attraction” at the site of Ireland’s first electricity generating station.
The move was welcomed by Independent deputy Michael McNamara, who said: “The Shannon hydroelectric Scheme, which led to the establishment of the ESB in 1927, was a major development by the Irish Free State to harness the power of the River Shannon at a time when the country had the second lowest consumption of electricity in Europe.”
He welcomed the ESB’s dialogue with public representatives ahead of preparing the feasibility study.
“As part of this work, the ESB is now commencing on a period of participatory stakeholder engagement to attain key input and feedback on the project plan. It is anticipated that this process of engagement will lead to a regional project with local and community beneficial impact,” he added.
Mr McNamara believes there is scope to develop a heritage tourism project on a par with the ‘Titanic Experience’ in Belfast.
“During my first term as a TD, I successfully appealed to the then Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte to encourage ESB to reinstate school tours at Ardnacrusha and I am delighted to see it has proven to be extremely popular. Clare County Councillor PJ Ryan has also been pushing for the development of a visitor project there over a long number of years,” the deputy added.
At present, the ESB runs a visitor experience in the current power station from approximately May to September each year, with visitor numbers of just over 10,000 per year.
However, access to this is limited with tours can only be provided at set times during the week. As it stands ther eis no scope to expand the capacity limits, said Mr McNamara.
He added: “To meet this challenge and to tap into the tourism potential for the region, the ESB has informed me it is planning a proposed new experience to harness the cultural heritage tourism potential of the region. Comprising of five floor floors, each created to inspire and educate through social, engineering, architecture and steam related stories and interactive exhibits, a 360-degree virtual amphitheatre, a café which will offer sustainable locally sourced food, a retail unit hosting local artisan crafts and products, and family oriented outdoor spaces the Ardnacrusha Experience will deliver a unique project on a par with the best-world-class interactive visitor experiences.”
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