Cost of New Ross Norman visitor centre expected to be €3million more than original budget of €6million

Murphy building on the Quay. Photo; Mary Browne

David LoobyNew Ross Standard

Initially priced at around €6m, the new Norman visitor centre in New Ross is more likely to end up costing in the region of €9m.

Rising building costs could see the 50pc increase in costs, according to New Ross Municipal District director Eamonn Hore, who said between government funding of around €5.5m and Wexford County Council funding, there is money to complete the project.

Located on the footprint of the old bank and Murphy buildings, the centre was due to be built by this summer but now looks to remain unopened for at least two to three years.

Grass had grown in one the Murphy building and was visible from the quay, while the old bank building had a panel showing the design for the bypass and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Bridge.

Mr Hore said a large decal sticker with a heritage map of the town is being erected, while a Norman knight and watermark of the image of the seal of New Ross – (a hound chasing a deer) – will adorn the other downstairs window.

“They are badly needed. They will also direct people as to what’s happening with the Murphy building; that this is the Norman centre.”

He said: “There is a lot going on in the background with the project. Fáilte Ireland are doing surveys on what people might relate to. That will be the William Marshal and Isobel de Clare love story, William Marshal as ‘The Greatest Knight’, how they were a power couple. This survey will inform what goes into the centre.”He said the level of digital animation and the fit out of the building are being worked on.

“They need to be sure what they want before we physically fit it out. We have to be sure how the Ros Tapestry will fit into it. Will there be activities in there for kids. Will it be a hands on attraction in places?”

Mr Hore said some projects have come in on budget like The High Hill medieval garden and the Emigrant Park, which, he said, may come in under budget.

“We plan to develop a top quality tourist building so the costs could run up to €8m or €9m.”

The visitor centre is likely to feature a glass atrium connecting the two buildings, which, because of their vastly different interiors, will not be altered to create a cohesive open plan facility.

The initial pan was for the two adjoining buildings to offer various immersive experiences, transporting visitors to the New Ross of the 1200s, taking them on a journey through the town’s glory days as the busiest port town in Ireland and the Norman invasion, right up to the present. There will be a stunning viewing area on the fourth floor looking out on St Mary’s Church to the north and the Dunbrody ship and new look Dunbrody Experience centre to the south, and onto a Norman abbey style courtyard below where retail and food stalls will operate from.

A large trading Norman boat will hang suspended from the roof, visible from a glass elevator which will also provide views of the town.

300 people are expected to be able to circulate around the centre at any one time and its designers are confident it will attract 150,000 people annually to the town.