Enhanced Visitor Experiences in Athlone Castle to Maximise its Potential in Ireland’s Ancient East
Fáilte Ireland, along with Westmeath County Council and Athlone Arts & Tourism today officially marked the completion of improvements at Athlone Castle to further enhance the visitor experience at the castle.
This project was grant aided by Fáilte Ireland under its ‘New ideas in Ancient Spaces’ Small Capital Grants Scheme. The scheme supports the improvement and development of compelling visitor experiences throughout the Ireland’s Ancient East region. Athlone Castle is perfectly positioned in the heart of the region and was one of the first heritage attractions to be awarded funding under this scheme.
Speaking today, Justine Carey, Manager of Ireland’s Ancient East with Fáilte Ireland said:
“This funding has helped improve how visitors will interact with Athlone Castle and bring Ireland’s Ancient East alive locally. As an initiative firmly rooted in our past and our stories, it is vital that we bring alive local history – such as that of the castle - to take full advantage of the opportunities provided by ‘Ireland’s Ancient East and to maximise the potential for tourism visitors, revenue and jobs in the county.”
The support Athlone Castle received from Fáilte Ireland contributed towards the provision of a multi-lingual audio guide for visitors to use on site. The guide is available in five European languages, Chinese and English. Fáilte Ireland’s research suggests that an initiative themed along these lines has the potential to deliver an extra 600,000 overseas visitors (growth of more than 20%) to the region and increase visitor revenue by almost 25% to €950m in total by 2020.
These improvements were delivered primarily for the overseas Culturally Curious market and visitors to Athlone Castle will ultimately enjoy a better experience as a result of this project.
Pat Gallagher, Chief Executive, Westmeath County Council said
“This enhancement of the interpretation of the story of Athlone Castle will reinforce connections and contexts in visitors' conceptions of the history of Ireland's Ancient East. The castle is uniquely placed to tell the story of settlement in Ireland from the Neolithic Period through to the Early Christian, Viking, Medieval and Anglo-Norman ages, while contextualising the impact of these eras on the shaping of modern life in the area. A visit to Athlone Castle is an illuminating and accessible journey through 5000 years of compelling history and one we hope many more visitors will enjoy.”
Mayor of Athlone, Cllr John Dolan commented:
“Athlone Castle will establish links with other heritage attractions located in Westmeath and the Ireland’s Ancient East region. Cross selling and referral opportunities will be developed in order to be well positioned to benefit from the projected visitor increases estimated by Fáilte Ireland.”