Georgian treasures entice culture tourists

Fri, Aug 10, 2012, 01:00

FÁILTE IRELAND has unveiled an initiative to relaunch Merrion Square in Dublin as a cultural destination and tourist attraction as it celebrates its 250th anniversary.

A series of cultural events will be held to position the square as a “must-see” attraction for national and international culture seekers.

A Merrion Square open day will be held on August 25th followed by “September on the Square”, a month-long series of events featuring art, literature, music, history, architecture and family activities.

Last year, the museums and institutions on Merrion Square attracted 1.6 million visitors, according to the tourism agency’s own research.

Mary King, policy and planning officer for Fáilte Ireland, said the area has been undersold in recent years.

“People need to understand the Georgian treasure we have in the heart of Dublin. There are so many institutions in the area – the National Library, the Natural History Museum and the National Gallery. There is huge potential to boost visitor numbers,” said Ms King.

“You see tourists taking pictures outside Georgian doors but we want people to go through the doors and discover what Merrion Square has to offer.”

Shaun Quinn, the chief executive of Fáilte Ireland, said Merrion Square is another string in Dublin’s tourism bow.

“Dublin has had a very good season this year compared to other parts of the country. We want to position Merrion Square as an important cultural tourism centre.

“Globally, cultural tourism is the fastest-growing tourism segment. We are also keen to recover our share in the British tourism market because there is a strong Anglo-Irish link with Merrion Square,” said Mr Quinn.

Many of the houses in the area are used as office space but there is a lot of history attached.

Oscar Wilde lived as a child in 1 Merrion Square, where Bram Stoker attended Lady Wilde’s salons, while WB Yeats once lived at No 82 and Daniel O’Connell resided at No 58.

Jimmy Shields, the director of a design firm on the square, is one of 37 local business people who have got together to relaunch the area and raise its profile.

“Many of us in the business community came together to ensure Merrion Square is put firmly back on the map, which is a testament to the power of the area,” said Mr Shields.

“We all feel a great affinity with the area. It needs to be more inclusive so visitors realise what lies behind the doors they pose in front of and will explore the area.”