Varadkar to consider 1916 tourist trail

 

Minister for Tourism Leo Varadkar says he has asked Failte Ireland to carry out a study to assess whether the upper end of Dublin’s O’Connell Street could be turned into a 1916 tourist trail.

Mr Varadkar today accompanied relatives of the descendants of the Rising on a tour of several historic sites in the area to mark the anniversary of the start of the insurrection.

The 2.7 hectare Carlton Cinema site takes in most of a block on the upper end of O'Connell Street and fronts on to Henry Street, Moore Street, O'Rahilly Parade and Parnell Street.

The area covers much of the route taken by the leaders of the Rising after they fled the GPO under a hail of British fire, and also includes the rebels' final headquarters on 16 Moore Street.

Acknowledging the historical importance of the area, Mr Varadkar said he would ask Failte Ireland to carry out an assessment of the tourist potential of the area and, specifically, whether “a tourist trail” could be developed.

“I think there is great interest, especially with the 100th anniversary of 1916 approaching, in what's left of our history.”

The site is owned by developer Joe O'Reilly, who built the Dundrum Town Centre in south Dublin, with the loans associated with it controlled by the National Assets Management Agency.

Mr O'Reilly was granted planning permission by An Bord Pleanála in 2010 for the 800,000sq ft redevelopment of the site which includes a number of retail and residential units as well as 700 car parking spaces.

However, Minister for Heritage Jimmy Deenihan remains in a process of consultation with the National Museum regarding the planning application.

The descendants of the 1916 rebels have been campaigning to have the area accorded special status so it can be redeveloped as a cultural and historic quarter.

James Connolly Heron, a great grandson of James Connolly, today described Mr Varadkar’s attendance as a significant development.

"This battlefield site has the potential to be a magnet for tourists from all over the world as we approach the centenary of the seminal event in our history," he said.

"If the rebuilding of our economy is now to rely on a growing tourist industry, is there a better place to begin that process than in fully preserving and protecting an area that is in effect the birthplace of our nation."

The houses between 14 and 17 Moore Street, where some leaders of the Rising and several of the garrison met on the eve of the Rising, were designated as national monuments in 2007.