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Funicular cable railway to Donegal fort planned in €73m tourism investment

Dublin flight simulator among four projects announced in effort to extend tourism season

Ireland’s first ever funicular cable railway and a “state-of-the-art” flight simulator are among the projects to result from a €73 million fund for four, large-scale tourist attractions in Dublin and the west.

Key objectives of lengthening the tourism season and diverting visitors to the regions are to be promoted by “the most significant investment in visitor attractions ever undertaken by Fáilte Ireland”, according to Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin.

The move is expected to directly and indirectly to create 8,000 jobs as well as generate a visitor spend of €290 million over the next 10 years.

The €73 million is a mix of public and private funding with some €44.3 million contributed by Fáilte Ireland.

Artist’s impression of a planned walkway at Cavan Burren Park.
Artist’s impression of a planned walkway at Cavan Burren Park.

The four recipients together with the amount of Fáilte Ireland investment are:

  • The Shannon Pot & Cavan Burren Park, Blacklion, Co Cavan which receives €4.8 million
  • Fort Dunree & Head, Buncrana, Co Donegal – €9.3 million
  • “This is Ireland” North City Centre, Dublin 1 – €10 million
  • Westport House Estate & Gardens, Westport, Co Mayo – €20.2 million
Westport House in Co Mayo is to receive €20.2m for a reimaging and rewilding project.
Westport House in Co Mayo is to receive €20.2m for a reimaging and rewilding project.

A visitor experience will be created at Fort Dunree & Head, a fort perched on a hilltop in Donegal overlooking the Wild Atlantic Way. It is proposed to build a funicular offering visitors a “thrilling ascent” to the High Fort, while its descent will provide views of Lough Swilly and its surroundings. A glass walkway, bridging two elements of the site and providing views is also proposed.

Artist’s impression of a glass walkway planned for Fort Dunree & Head in Co Donegal.
Artist’s impression of a glass walkway planned for Fort Dunree & Head in Co Donegal.

The other successful projects involve the enhancement of the Cavan Burren Park and a state-of-the-art flight simulator in the centre of Dublin to the reimagining and rewilding of a vast estate in Mayo offering nature-based experiences on the west coast.

Artist’s impression of an element of the ‘This is Ireland’ experience planned for Dublin city centre.
Artist’s impression of an element of the ‘This is Ireland’ experience planned for Dublin city centre.

The “This is Ireland” attraction in Dublin will be based on similar attraction in Amsterdam and Vancouver. Fáilte Ireland said the attraction is an immersive experience consisting of multiple shows, with its principal feature being a simulated flight experience. “‘This Is Ireland’ allows guests experience the story of Ireland in a breath-taking and engaging way,” it said.

According to Fáilte Ireland the four projects displayed the greatest potential over the next 10 years to increase employment, drive visitors to the region and lengthen the tourism season beyond the summer.

Ms Martin said the investment was “the most significant investment in visitor attractions ever undertaken by Fáilte Ireland”, with “far-reaching national and regional economic benefits”.

Fáilte Ireland’s economic analysis indicated that every €1 million spent by tourists helps to supports 27 jobs in the Irish tourism sector.

The individual investments are the culmination of competitive application process which began in 2019 and includes matching funding of €29 million.

It is hoped the four sites will help promote regional tourism, bringing tourists beyond the traditional big attractions.

It is also hoped the attractions will extend the tourism season beyond the short, high summer period. Both objectives, regional dispersal and extension of the visitor season are key ambitions of the State’s tourism strategy.

Fáilte Ireland chief executive Paul Kelly said driving regional tourism growth had always been a key priority for the organisation “but it is now more important than ever as we rebuild the sector and recover from the devastation of Covid-19”.

He said the four selected projects were “diverse, engaging and unique and will help visitors connect with Ireland and bring the country’s vibrant culture, heritage and people to life”.

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