Wild Atlantic Way 'just starting', as €2.3 million attractions announced
The west's awake
Two years since its official launch, work on the Wild Atlantic Way is "just starting", according to Fáilte Ireland.
The most recent boost for the 2,500km touring route is €1.125m in funding for a Connemara Greenway and visitor facilities on the Great Blasket Island.
The funds, split €896,000 for Connemara and €225,000 for the first phase of visitor facilities on the largest Blasket island (pictured below), come from Fáilte Ireland’s Capital Grants Allocation for 2016.
Meanwhile, in Clifden, the Alcock & Brown landing and Marconi transmission site at Derrigimlagh (above) has re-opened after a €1.2m makeover.
"While the Wild Atlantic Way has been warmly received at home and abroad, it is still an evolving project," said Fáilte Ireland chariman, Shaun Quinn, describing the projects as an investment in the visitor experience on the ground.
Work on the 2,500km touring route is "just starting", added Fiona Monaghan, Fáilte Ireland's Head of the Wild Atlantic Way.
The Wild Atlantic Way has 15 Signature Discovery Points, including Derrigimlagh.
Further initiatives are currently underway at Malin Head, Co. Donegal; Keem Bay, Co. Mayo; Bray Head, Co. Kerry; and the Old Head of Kinsale, Co. Cork.
All are due for completion at various stages over the next two years.
In Connemara, the latest grant will fund a new section of the greenway route from Cloonbeg to Athry, running adjacent to Ballynahinch Castle.
Its estimated completion date is May 2017.
The development is part of a wider plan for connecting greenways that will ultimately stretch 78km from Clifden to Galway City.
The €225,000 grant for the Great Blasket Island will assist the OPW in developing new facilities and services expected to be completed later this summer.
At Derrigimlagh, €1.2 million has been invested in the development of a 5km looped walk with several interactive features bringing the site to life.
They include ‘historioscopes’, which allow viewers to see how key points would have looked in the early 20th century, 'hides' housing old fashioned crystal radio sets on which visitors can listen to recordings from the old Marconi station, as well as interpretive panels, a parabolic mirror and a wind reed installation.
"We now have a Discovery Point which not only tells a story but actually immerses the visitor," said Minister of State for Tourism, Patrick O'Donovan, unveiling the site.
The Minister recently launched a new €65m Fáilte Ireland Grants Scheme that aims to provide funds to develop new or boost existing large tourism experiences and attractions across Ireland from 2016-2020.
The scheme is currently open for applications.