Bunratty’s €8m upgrade to include ‘immersive’ history experience

Butterfly house among other features to be added to Co Clare tourist attraction

Subject to planning approval,  work at the Bunratty Castle site will commence in early 2020 with a view to completion in early 2021.

Subject to planning approval, work at the Bunratty Castle site will commence in early 2020 with a view to completion in early 2021.

 

Plans are underway for an €8 million rejuvenation of Bunratty Castle and Folk Park which will include a new multi-screen “immersing experience” educating visitors about the history of the site.

There are ten different aspects to the planned investment by Shannon Group plc and Fáilte Ireland, including restoration works to Bunratty House - a Georgian residence once occupied by the estate’s owners; the construction of a butterfly house within the existing walled garden; and the addition of four sculptures including one at the entrance to the park.

A cornerstone of the project will be what’s billed as Ireland’s first 4-D 270 degree visitor experience, with a building to be constructed specifically for this purpose. This will take visitors through 800 years of history within just six minutes in a “very immersive and historical accurate” fashion.

All 25 houses in the 19th century folk park and the 15th century castle at the site will get an uplift. Motor home spaces are to be added to the car park which will see it’s canopy removed. A playground, boardwalk and picnic area are also included in the plans.

Niall O’Callaghan, managing director of Shannon Heritage, said it believed the investment “will create a major attraction of scale on the Wild Atlantic Way”.

The commercial semi-State body, which is part of the Shannon Group, was launched in 1963 running medieval banquet at Bunratty Castle, which it still operates today.

“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,” Mr O’Callaghan added.

Newmarket-on-Fergus councillor Pat McMahon (FF) has called on the body to purchase the disused Shannon Shamrock Hotel which is adjacent to Bunratty Castle and transform the site into a theme park. However, a spokesperson said Shannon Heritage did not own the Shamrock and had no intention of buying it.

An Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) and Natura Impact Statement (NIS) have already been prepared and will be submitted to Clare County Council as the planning authority with the application.

Subject to planning approval and funding approval from Fáilte Ireland, it is anticipated work will commence in early 2020 with a view to completion in early 2021.