Six revamped attractions in Ireland for 2022 – from a 12-storey slide to ‘one of the great gardens of the world’
Creating more engaging attractions aims to attract visitors and extend tourism season
With mid-term on the way and a stretch in the evenings, I’ve been looking out for fresh things to do and see around Ireland. And I’ve been surprised at what I’ve found.
Many of us will be looking forward to getting overseas this year, but there’s lots to discover (and rediscover) at home too. Here’s just a small sample of the experiences breathing new life into visitor attractions for your next adventure.
1. Avondale, Co Wicklow
A fully accessible, 1.2km tree canopy walk? A 12-storey wooden viewing tower with a slide the whole way down? I can’t wait. Charles Stewart Parnell’s former home is going up a gear with a €12.5m investment that includes a new cafe and ‘At home with the Parnells’ exhibition. It will open by early summer.
2. Knowth, Co Meath
Time for this passage tomb to step out of Newgrange’s shadow? After the recent revamp of Brú na Bóinne, Knowth is getting its own visitor centre. An “upgraded black box interpretative space”, as Fáilte Ireland describes it, has also been developed “within the main mound”. It’s slated to open from March 3.
3. Mount Congreve, Co Waterford
A €6m revamp will open up previously private areas of the house, add a visitor centre, retail elements and revitalise “one of the great gardens of the world”. It’s right on the Waterford Greenway, too. The 70-acre gardens plan to reopen this summer.
4. The Céide Fields, Co Mayo
A rebooted visitor centre promises a vibrant exploration of the oldest known stone-wall fields in the world, including “360-degree animated displays”. The Céide Coast and its sea cliffs also make for a gloriously off-radar drive. It opens March 11.
5. The Blasket Centre, Co Kerry
A new viewing platform will be followed by upgrades to the visitor centre, with new AV displays and graphics telling the story of life on the Blasket Islands. It’s expected to open this spring.
6. National Famine Museum, Co Roscommon
After the launch of the 165km National Famine Way from Strokestown to Dublin last year, comes a €5m reboot of a museum that really did need a freshening up. It promises an immersive experience, new visitor centre and café telling the story of the famine “in an engaging and respectful way”, and is due to open by early summer.
That’s just a sniff of what’s out there. Other new or revamped visits include Carlingford Castle, the Irish Racehorse Experience at the National Stud, a Museum of Time in Waterford, the rebooted Custom House visitor centre in Dublin City, and a refresh of The Shackleton Garden in Dublin 15 — the 1.5-acre walled garden is already open as an addition to Fingal’s Liffey Valley Trail.
For Fáilte Ireland and its partners, the hope in investing all this cash is to create more engaging attractions that stretch the season, draw more visits, and help Ireland stand out as countries compete for tourists, post-Covid.
For us, it means all the more days out.