Fáilte Ireland to spend over €2m on view of the Blaskets
THE Blasket Islands and Ionad an Bhlascaoid will be upgraded to what Fáilte Ireland terms ‘significant points’ on the Wild Atlantic Way. The move, which was announced at an event in the Blasket centre on Monday, is expected to greatly increase visitor numbers to the area.
At the event, Minister for Sport and Tourism Brendan Griffin announced a major investment of €2.25 million to create an enhanced experience for an increased numbers of visitors at the site. This development aims to double the number of tourists visiting the centre to 100,000 yearly.
Included in the plan is the development of a 170m walkway and ‘signature viewing point’ (a term Fáilte Ireland uses to describe ‘ an iconic, must-see site’ on the Wild Atlantic Way) close to Ionad an Bhlascaoid.
This is one of a number of developments at heritage sites along the Wild Atlantic Way, including Carrowmore, Dún Aonghusa and the Ceide Fields. Over half of the €4.3 million allocated nationally will be spent in Dún Chaoin where, as well as the construction of the clifftop walkway, a number of displays in the centre will be upgraded to include interactive table displays in multiple languages.
The funding for the development is the result of a partnership between the OPW and Fáilte Ireland and stems from the view expressed by Fáilte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly that: “Sustaining tourism growth in Kerry will very much be dependent on our ability to provide continued improvement in the range and quality of visitor experiences on the ground”.
To this end Fáilte Ireland is providing 75 per cent of the funding for the project from its Capital Grants budget, and the remainder of the funding is being provided by the OPW.
Minister Griffin said he was delighted with the investment in the area. “I am delighted to see Fáilte Ireland and the OPW working in partnership to improve and transform the Blasket Centre and many key heritage sites,” he said. But not everyone is equally enthused by the prospect of a constructed walkway in an area that is already accessible to walkers and sufficiently off the beaten track to be ‘quiet’ even at the height of the tourist season.
In repsonse to critical comments from callers to RTE’s Saol Ó Dheas, Cllr Seamus Mac Gearailt remarked that while there were objections to everything - even the original development of Ionad an Bhlascaoid which has made a significant difference to the area.
The project for the construction of the walkway and viewing point, is in the planning phase at the moment and is expected to be complete by 2020.
Ionad an Bhlascaoid tells the story of the islanders and their extraordinary literary legacy. It recounts their daily lives and details the community’s struggle for existence, their language and culture and eventual evacuation. Their story is told using a variety of means - exhibitions, interactive displays, artefacts, audio visual presentations and artworks.
Minister Brendan Griffin at Ionad an Bhlascaoid with Fáilte Ireland’s Director of Product Development Orla Carroll OPW Chairman Maurice Buckley and Ionad Manager Doncha Ó Conchúir.