The success of the History channel’s Vikings series, filmed at County Wicklow’s Ashford Studios, has prompted major expansion plans, including a visitor centre.
Ashford’s owner, Joe O’Connell, has been reported as saying that he is prepared to fund the €90m project himself if necessary. With a successful manufacturing business in China, he self-funded the existing €25m development. Currently it occupies 150,000 sq ft including three studios offering 60,000 sq ft of filming space.
O’Connell’s latest vision includes four new 40,000 sq ft film studios, a TV studio, offices, support space and visitor centre.
The intention is to support the development of a TV and film skills cluster in County Wicklow, generating a minimum of 2,500 jobs.
The expansion would enable the studios to accommodate three or four productions at any one time.
The growth of online providers such as Amazon and Netflix has helped to spark a growth in TV and film production. Ireland is also home to Ardmore Studios in Bray and Ardmore’s spin-off, Troy Studios.
While admitting that there is a risk, O’Connell says the success of Vikings has given him confidence.
The programme begins filming its fifth series this summer.
Ambitions for Ashford Studios do not end here. If this expansion is successful, O’Connell says there is space to add nine further studios.
Image: Alyssa Sutherland as Aslaug. Photo credit: Bernard Walsh