Bulmers have gotten on board with a €5m tourism project that intends to attract some 100,000 visitors annually to a south Tipperary town.
Clonmel's tourism project - which includes an interpretative centre at the fully restored West Gate in the town - aims to entice people to spend more time exploring the culture and history of the area.
"The big feature in Co Tipperary for visitors is the Rock of Cashel and, unfortunately, they leave the county after that," Paul Murray, Tipperary County Council's HR chief told independent.ie.
"We want to pull people towards Clonmel, predominantly the foreign market, the culturally curious tourist, as the town has so much history."
The Rock of Cashel attraction pulls in some 300,000 visitors every year, and the current tally of 10,000 to Clonmel annually is expected to reach 100,000 in five years with this new incentive, using Cashel as a feeder site.
Looking to avail of the Failte Ireland scheme grant, Tipperary CoCo hired consultants to look at a plan that included the West Gate centre and the redeveloped County Museum and Suir Island and the River Suir.
Realising that Bulmers were interested in establishing a visitor centre at Dowd's Lane, the council and the firm agreed to package the plans together in a group application.
"C&C are active in pursuing and reinvigorating the area. They are very keen to develop this visitor centre as there's none in relation to cider in Ireland," said Mr Murray, agreeing that the project was a long time coming.
"C&C have experience in this visitor centre as they have established something similar in Glasgow, though not in relation to cider."
Bulmers' huge market penetration, exporting to 70 countries worldwide, is expected to be effective in terms of awareness of the origins of the drink - and, in turn, the new visitor centre.
"This project will be a huge game changer for the local economy. We have struggled with visitor numbers before, especially compared with cities like Limerick and Galway".
"We expect that - on completion - this project will attract significant numbers of people to the area, and inspire innovation for other centres that will only boost tourism further".
While still at concept stage and awaiting the opening of Failte Ireland's funding call later this year, the total cost of the project is estimated at €4.9m; with Dowd's Lane centre costing €1.8m, the development of Suir Island and the river coming in at €2m - and €0.9m for the West Gate and the museum combined.
C&C said that it fully supports Clonmel’s Tourism Project. A detailed feasibility analysis is underway in consultation with Tipperary County Council, Tipperary Tourism and Failte Ireland, a spokesperson for the firm said.