'Ireland's Ancient East' launched as follow-up to Wild Atlantic Way
Touring "region" to deliver 600k visitors
A new "touring region" tapping 5,000 years of history in Ireland's south and east has been launched as a follow-up to the Wild Atlantic Way.
‘Ireland’s Ancient East’ was launched by Minister for Tourism Paschal Donohoe and Minister of State, Michael Ring, at Meitheal, Ireland’s largest travel trade workshop in the RDS, Dublin today.
The initiative is described as a "touring region" rather than a specific route (or routes), and is designed to offer visitors a "relaxing journey of discovery" stretching from Newgrange through the Midlands and southeast to Cork.
'Ireland's Ancient East' has the potential to deliver an extra 600,000 overseas visitors and increase visitor revenue by almost 25pc to €950m in the region by 2020, according to Fáilte Ireland.
Pitched as "similar in scale and ambition" to the Wild Atlantic Way, the concept is of a "compact" touring region crammed with 5,000 years of Irish history that visitors can enter at any point and explore at their leisure.
It does not have a fixed length, beginning or end.
It will, however, be themed along four pillars:
- Ancient Ireland: Including the prehistoric attractions of the Boyne Valley in Newgrange and sites such as the Brownshill Dolmen in Carlow
- Early Christian Ireland: Including sites such as Clonmacnoise, Glendalough, Mellifont abbey, Jerpoint Abbey, St.Canice’s Cathedral and Holycross Abbey
- Medieval Ireland: Including Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile, the Viking Triangle in Waterford, Hook Head Lighthouse, Trim Castle and the Rock of Cashel
- Anglo Ireland: Including Ireland’s Great Houses and Gardens as well as sites such as the Dunbrody Famine Ship and Wicklow Gaol
The initiative will "turn a transit zone into a touring region," Fáilte Ireland says.
Ireland's Ancient East: Killkenny's Medieval Mile
No price tag has been given for the initiative, although it has been described as "similar in scale and ambition to the Wild Atlantic Way", which saw an investment of €10 million from Fáilte Ireland last year.
'Ireland's Ancient East' is intended to match and complement the Wild Atlantic Way, a touring route widely seen as a game-changer for Irish tourism since its launch a year ago.
The new initiative was developed following wide-ranging consultation with stakeholders and research in overseas markets, according to Fáilte Ireland. It is intended to have the power and scope to compete in international markets.
“With the great amount of history and heritage in such a relatively compact area, ‘Ireland’s Ancient East’ will allow us to seriously build on the assets we have in the east and south – and the significant investment which has been made in tourism attractions in the region over the last few years," Minister Donohoe said at the launch.
"While appealing to a different type of a visitor, I am confident that Ireland’s Ancient East will prove as effective and popular as the Wild Atlantic Way and will deliver significant additional numbers of visitors, revenue and jobs to the region."
Ireland's Ancient East: Fáilte Ireland (Video)
“I believe that it will prove to be as significant a game-changer for the east and south of Ireland as the Wild Atlantic Way has been for the west," added Minister Ring, who encouraged local communities to get behind the initiative.
Fáilte Ireland will be working directly with businesses and communities "to bring this new brand alive", he added.
In the coming months, dedicated signage, experience development workshops and interpretation programmes will be rolled out to brand the area and assist business and communities in animating the stories of their locality.
Stories, and storytelling, will play a key part in the brand as it evolves.
Supporting products, such as guided/self-guided walks, themed driving routes, festivals, events and river tours will also be encouraged and developed to complement the built heritage attractions.
Irish tourism has been on something of a roll of late, with some 7.6 million visitors spending €3.5 billion in the country last year.
Major initiatives, including The Gathering in 2013 and the Wild Atlantic Way in 2014, have played a large role in that resurgence, with overseas visitors up 8.9pc last year.
The hope is that Ireland's Ancient East will continue the momentum.