Plans have been announced for a multi-million euro rejuvenation of Bunratty Castle and Folk Park.
Shannon Heritage has lodged a planning application with Clare County Council for the project, which would include Ireland’s first ever 4D 270 degree visitor experience.
A new building constructed for the attraction will transport visitors through the ages in a sensory, immersive and educational experience, before they enter a rejuvenated Bunratty Folk Park.
Niall O’Callaghan, Managing Director of Shannon Heritage, said: “Over the past year we have set out an ambitious growth strategy which has already begun to succeed with the addition of new attractions to the portfolio.”
Sensory and immersive experience at Bunratty Castle
He continued: “It is a hugely exciting transformational project which will significantly enhance the storytelling, visitor interpretation and overall immersive experience of 800 years of history.
“Our staff and visitor feedback have been central to the vision of the ‘new’ Bunratty Castle and Folk Park and this, we believe, will create a major attraction of scale on the Wild Atlantic Way.”
As part of the works, all 25 houses in the 19th century Folk Park and the 15th century Bunratty Castle will be refurbished, with improved landscaping and new creative play elements and navigation.
Historical content is being sourced from both the National Folklore Archive in UCD and the Glucksman Library at the University of Limerick.
Additionally, Ireland’s largest Butterfly House is planned for the Regency Walled Garden at the opposite end of Folk Park to Bunratty Castle.
O’Callaghan added: “With just under 400,000 visitors a year, we are building on this success with the support of our sister company, Shannon Commercial Properties, with an ambition to reaffirm Bunratty Castle and Folk Park status as a ‘must visit’ destination.
The ‘new’ Bunratty Castle and Folk Park
“The investment will result in a significant increase in visitors and the various elements of the project will appeal to a mass audience from the culturally curious to great escapers with authenticity at its core.”
Mary Considine, Shannon Group’s Deputy CEO, said: “The implementation of our master plan for Bunratty Castle and Folk Park will ensure that we give tourists even more reasons to visit our region and fly Shannon.”
Subject to planning approval and funding approval from Fáilte Ireland, it is anticipated that work will start in early 2020, scheduled to complete in early 2021.
Merthyr Tydfil’s revamp of Cyfarthfa Castle
Elsewhere, Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council is seeking a design team for a £50 million revamp of Cyfarthfa Castle and its 77-hectare park.
Image: Shannon Group