Give me a crash course in. . . Rebranding the midlands

Fáilte Ireland want to create a new Way to follow the success of the Wild Atlantic and Ancient East

Boats moored at Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Boats moored at Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

We’re getting a new Way, are we?

Apparently. Fáilte Ireland wants help to create a brand new brand for the midlands, to follow the success of the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East. The notion is that the tourist attraction will stretch from Cavan to Killaloe, Co Clare and west from Westmeath to east Galway.

The midlands as a tourist attraction? Are you Cavan a laugh?

Don’t be so sarky. That stretch, while often overlooked by people barrelling along the motorways going east and west and north and south, has loads going on, and Fáilte Ireland wants the world to know all about it. It has a notion that its new brand is to be all about “slow tourism”.

Slow tourism? So the market is Homer Simpson?

That is not what slow tourism means. While the Wild Atlantic Way has all that rugged coastline and water sports, and the Ancient East has loads of old heritage to keep people occupied, when it comes to the midlands, Fáilte Ireland wants us to think about things like walking, eating, cycling and blueways.

What’s a blueway?

Jeez Homer, you really are slow. A blueway refers to the water. And to be fair to the midlands, it has water in spades, what with the Shannon and all manner of lakes, as well as the Royal Canal.

When will the new Way be rolled out?

The plan is to have it ready for the market next year and in the call for tenders that The Irish Times got its hands on earlier this week, Fáilte Ireland wants contenders to design “visual identities” and points to three “experience brands” it has developed in the last four years.

Three? I’ve heard of the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East, is there another one?

There is. It’s called Dublin: A Breath of Fresh Air.

Right. Well the person who came up with that name has never cycled behind a stream of 46As now have they?

Probably not.

So what exactly do the tourist people want?

“While we are still working through the research and identifying the most appropriate proposition/concept we now want to get in place a supplier who, when the time comes, can develop a name and a brand identity that encapsulates what this region of Ireland has to offer and what is motivating to the potential visitor,” the tender document says.

That sounds expensive. How much is it going to cost?

Well, the documents say “the budgetary process cannot be stressed enough”. And according to internal emails, Fáilte Ireland said the “pay ask” was for 2018 and a commitment for three years. The need to recruit staff in 2017 to be ready for 2018 was mentioned, and the estimated “pay ask” in 2017 was €90,000. Non-pay elements would be in addition to this, the documents said.

“Pay ask”? Like that’s a thing. What should we call our new Way then?

The Middlin’ Midlands? Ireland’s WaterWayhays? Wet Ireland? Beautiful Bogland? Barack Obama Plazaland? The Midlands: Not as dull as you think?

They are all terrible. Can’t you do better than that?

Okay so, if we were in the business of pitching we’d focus exclusively on the Shannon, which rises in Co Cavan and runs through the midlands to Co Clare, taking in Lough Allen, Lough Ree and Lough Derg. And there are the Inny, the Suck and the Brosna, the Royal Canal and the Grand Canal. It’s linked to the River Erne and Lough Erne and to Boyle via the Boyle canal, the river Boyle and Lough Kee. So we’d probably go with the Savage Shannon Way or Ireland Majestic/Mighty Riverways or something dramatic like that. Now, that’ll be 90 grand please.

CONOR POPE