Crisp brand character is park's star attraction


NO LONGER just a humble packet of crisps in your local shop, Tayto is now a fully functional theme park, featuring over 100 attractions.

The brainchild of crisp tycoon Ray Coyle, after over three years of work, Tayto Park opens today. It has transformed 55 acres of Co Meath land into a variety of playgrounds, restaurants, shops, animal petting areas and open plains hosting rare creatures.

Somewhere between a zoo and an amusement park, it is, in the words of Mr Coyle, “an experience, but with a lot of different experiences within it”.

“I wanted to create something that would be fun and create unusual buildings,” said Mr Coyle. “Most importantly, it has to deliver. The food must deliver, people have to have fun from the activities, enjoy the landscaping we’ve done. The animals have to look unusual and be interesting.”

From the cheese-and-onion car park, patrons go to the admissions building and can take a picture next to the Mr Tayto statue.

Then you can see the pot belly pigs, pygmy goats, ocelots (small leopards) or highland cattle. Or maybe head straight to the Pow Wow Playground, with its four towers of slides, climbing walls and bridges. There are diverse and interesting animals on show, along with colourful pheasants, hens, geese and other rare birds.

The idea came from Mr Coyle’s farming background. After purchasing some buffalo for his farm, he was frequently asked by friends if they could have a look and so the idea of a park grew.

It is fitting then that one of the main elements of a trip to Tayto Park is a visit to Buffalo Ridge to look out at 250 buffalos while listening to a talking telescope.

While the other main attractions are animals, tree houses and playgrounds, the site boasts extensive landscaping around its 4.2km of walkways and a large “lodge” style restaurant.

Located near Ashbourne, Co Meath, the park cost €8.5 million to build. It employs 40 local people, with a plan to expand that number to 85 for the summer season.

Entry for a family of four costs €40. Admission is €14 for adults and €12 for under-16s. Children under three are free.

“It is a four- or five-hour adventure for what is a reasonable price,” said Mr Coyle. “I hope people leaving have had a fun, interesting day that was good value with good food and will think fondly of Tayto.”

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