Friday 24 May 2019

4D Folk Park: Bunratty Castle to get €8m rejuvenation and 'Ireland's largest butterfly house'

Bunratty Castle and Folk Park is in line for an upgrade that also includes 'Ireland's largest butterfly house'

Bunratty Castle in Co Clare. Photo: Deposit
Bunratty Castle in Co Clare. Photo: Deposit
An artist's impression of the proposed 4D Visitor Experience at Bunratty Castle
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

Bunratty Castle and Folk Park is in line for an €8 million "rejuvenation", the largest investment since it opened as a tourist attraction in 1963.

A planning application for the upgrade has been lodged by Shannon Heritage, which operates the attraction, with Clare County Council.

Subject to planning approval and additional funding from Fáílte Ireland, the investment will include "Ireland’s first ever 4-D 270-degree visitor experience".

And what exactly is a "4-D visitor experience?"

Well, a new, purpose-designed building "will transport visitors through the ages in an incredible sensory, immersive and historically accurate experience, a real ‘wow factor’ before they enter a rejuvenated Bunratty Folk Park," it says.

Ireland’s largest Butterfly House is another planned addition, to be located in the Regency Walled Garden at the opposite end of the Park to the Castle.

An artist's impression of the proposed 4D Visitor Experience at Bunratty Castle
An artist's impression of the proposed 4D Visitor Experience at Bunratty Castle

In addition, all 25 houses in the 19th century Folk Park and the 15th century castle itself will get "an uplift in interpretation as well as improved landscaping and new creative play elements and navigation," the company adds.

Historical content is being sourced from both the National Folklore Archive in UCD and the Glucksman Library at the University of Limerick.

Shannon Heritage is a Shannon Group plc company, and Ireland's largest commercial operator of tourist attractions and experiences.

This year, it launched another new immersive experience at Newbridge House and Farm in Co Dublin. It has also been responsible for the €6m redevelopment of King John's Castle in Limerick as an interactive attraction.

Other experiences on its books include Craggaunowen in Co Clare, Malahide Castle & Gardens and the GPO Witness History Visitor Centre.

The plans for Bunratty are "a hugely exciting transformational project which will significantly enhance the storytelling, visitor interpretation and overall immersive experience of 800 years of history," says Niall O’Callaghan, the company's MD.

If planning comes through, work will be completed by 2021.

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