Adventure park plan for Bunratty Castle land-bank

PLANS for a multi-million euro themed adventure park beside Bunratty Castle and Folk Park are being pursued by Shannon Development.

The regional development agency is seeking expressions of interest from third parties to develop a major tourism development on a 120-acre land-bank at Bunratty that would boost tourism revenues in the mid-west.

The agency claims the proposal would complement Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, that occupies less than a third of the lands that will accommodate the new tourist attraction.

Bunratty Castle and Folk Park is already one of Ireland’s most popular tourist attractions with 400,000 visitors annually.

In tender documentation published, Shannon Development states that there exists gaps in the market for a themed adventure park aimed at the family market.

The location on a major inter-urban motorway and its proximity to Shannon international airport are added benefits.

Another proposal put forward by the agency is an Irish history and cultural centre incorporating a diaspora and genealogy centre.

The agency has undertaken research indicating there may be an opportunity to develop a “one-stop-shop” for visitors to learn as much as possible about Ireland’s history and culture.

The tender documentation states: “It is estimated that the size of the available market for cultural tourism in Ireland from main source markets of Britain, United States, France and Germany to be of the order of 65 million.&

A proposed further approach for the land-bank, according to the agency, relate to “activity, outdoor adventure and soft-adventure” tourism.

According to Shannon Development, its preferred option was to enter a development and management agreement with a preferred party for the development and operation of a newattraction.

The agency states that at least five candidates will be invited to submit detailed tenders.

Shannon Development state that the 120 acres are located within a strategic development zone that allows a wide range of developments to be considered.

The documentation states: “Informal discussions have taken place with Clare County Council who have indicated that they would welcome a tourism related planning application for this strategic site.”

Vice-president of the Irish Hotels Federation Michael Vaughan said yesterday: “Hats off to Shannon Development on this. We are delighted that they are taking this initiative and such a project could lead to a reversal in the tourist fortunes of Limerick and east Clare.”

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