Tipperary museum attracts double expected visitors in its first season

Visitor numbers at one of the country’s newest and most original visitor attractions have more than doubled expectations during its first year in operation.

Joseph O'Brien presents the 2017 Melbourne Cup to the Fethard Horse Country Experience museum, with Jimmy O'Sullivan and Aidan O'Brien.

Now the Fethard Horse Country Experience (FHCE) in Co Tipperary has lined up a new range of promotions to encourage more people to enjoy its unique offering of culture, history and sport as well as Fethard’s historic and picturesque surroundings.

The museum, officially opened last year by local resident Andrew Lloyd Webber, received an unusual birthday present last week when trainer Joseph O’Brien presented the Melbourne Cup which his superstar thoroughbred Rekindling won last November, to be displayed for the coming season.

It joins the Cheltenham Gold Cup won by War of Attrition, trained locally by Mouse Morris, in 2006 as well as a wealth of other memorabilia including the skeleton of multiple champion horse racing sire Sadler’s Wells, formerly resident just up the road at Coolmore Stud.

FHCE was hoping to welcome about 3,000 visitors during its first eight months of operation but recorded 6,500 people going through the doors of the historic building, originally built as a Tholsel and used variously over the years as a town hall, fire station, library, market venue, and general community centre.

In its new guise as a museum, it also hosts community events and acts as a hub for locals and visitors alike.

This year brings an opportunity to see inside the world-famous Coolmore Stud, only available by visiting the horse country experience museum first, while a number of local eateries including McCarthy’s Hotel, Dooks Fine Foods and Emily’s Delicatessen are offering 10% discounts to FHCE visitors.

So far, the museum has attracted visitors from Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, the US, Australia, China, and the United Arab Emirates, with a positive knock-on effect for the historic walled town.

“After a number of years where the whole of Ireland experienced the harsh realities of the economic downturn, it is extremely rewarding and encouraging to see the regeneration of our town,” said chairman of the Fethard Community Heritage Centre Jimmy O’Sullivan.”The museum is the culmination of a number of years of hard work from both the local community and our supporters and funders, for which we are extremely grateful.”

The €1.6m investment, supported by Tipperary County Council as well as the Magnier family of Coolmore Stud, the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, Fáilte Ireland, and the Leader Programme, places Fethard as “a key destination” in Ireland’s Ancient East.

The high-spec museum was developed by Event Communications, who were also responsible for the Titanic Museum in Belfast, the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, and EPIC at the CHQ Building in Dublin.


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