independent

Friday 28 April 2017

Dunbrody may not sail again – it's not worth it

The Dunbrody famine ship at sea.
The Dunbrody famine ship at sea.

Elaine FURLONG

THE DUNBRODY Famine Ship may never sail again because of its value as a major tourist attraction for New Ross.

Seán Reidy, the CEO of the JFK Trust,

inset, confirmed yesterday (Tuesday) that when the Tall Ships Race returns to Waterford in 2011 there will be no repeat of 2005 when the Dunbrody led out the armada of sailing ships. 'While we did get a lot of profile, it took tourists away from the town,' he said.

He said the recently announced ¤2.5 million investment in the onshore Dunbrody Visitor Centre means the ship 'is of more benefit to the town by staying in place' and that he has to be 'realistic' and ' pragmatic' about the possibility of the famine ship ever setting sail again from its dock in New Ross.

'While you never say never, the ship is there as part of a major tourist attraction. It does not make sense to take it away for long periods of time. It is like saying that a visitor attraction like Kilkenny Castle would not to be there for a while.'

DESPITE ITS high profile participation in the Tall Ships Race in 2005, the Dunbrody famine ship will not be taking part in the prestigious event when it returns to Waterford in 2011.

Following the launch of the website for the event on Monday to coincide with the '500 days to go' milestone, the CEO of the JFK Trust has said that there was a 'serious downside' to tourism in New Ross when the Dunbrody took part in the 2005 event.

'While we did get a lot of profile last time by leading out the Tall Ships, what it did for two to three weeks during the tourist season was that it took tourists away from the town,' said Seán Reidy.

However, Seán feels there will be increasing pressure on the Dunbrody Famine Ship to participate in the Tall Ships race following the demise of the Asgard.

'I know pressure will be on the Dunbrody to go but I think we are close enough to Waterford to work with Waterford and to have our iconic tourist attraction in New Ross.'

According to Seán he has to be both 'realistic' and 'pragmatic' about the possibility of the famine ship ever setting sail from its dock in New Ross in the future.

'While you never say never, the ship is there as part of a major tourist attraction, if we put in an investment of another ¤2.5 million of tourist exhibitions, it does not make sense to take it away for long periods of time. It is like saying that a visitor attraction like Kilkenny Castle would not to be there for a while,' explained Seán.

'It would have a longer impact, we would lose visitors, and we would also risk losing tour operators. There are very big implications when you develop a major tourist attraction. When you look at a cost benefit analysis, she is of more benefit to the town by staying in place.'

'The ship has sailed. The main purpose from day one was that it would be a visitor attraction.'

According to Seán the €2.5m development of the onshore facility at the Dunbrody Visitor Centre will be just open by the time the Tall Ships race reaches Waterford and there are plans afoot to host a series of fringe events in New Ross, including the possibility of having three of the Tall Ships sail into New Ross and spend some time here.

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