The development of the Inis Cealtra Visitor Experience – a landmark tourism project on the banks of Lough Derg in East Clare – has taken a significant step forward with the announcement of plans for a proposed new Inis Cealtra (Holy Island) visitor centre in the heart of Mountshannon village.
Referred to locally as the ‘Jewel of the Lough’, Inis Cealtra is one of the most important historical and ecclesiastical sites in Ireland and has important links to Brian Ború, the last High King of Ireland.
Having taken 41 acres on the island into public ownership in 2015, Clare County Council has acquired the Old Rectory building overlooking Mountshannon Harbour, Scarriff Bay and Lough Derg. A Part 8 Planning Application has been secured to transform the building into a mainland visitor centre, interpreting the monastic site and its surroundings.
The recently acquired Old Rectory building will be re-purposed and extended to provide an impressive Visitor Centre scheduled to open in the second half of 2023.
The Inis Cealtra Visitor Experience is a collaborative project involving Clare County Council, Fáilte Ireland, Waterways Ireland, the OPW and National Monuments Service and National Parks and Wildlife Service. Joan Tarmey is the Project Co-Ordinator and guides an award-winning consultancy team comprising McCullough Mulvin Architects, Tandem Partners Ltd (interpretation/visitor experience designers), Tobin Consulting Engineers (quantity surveyors/project managers), Design Works (branding & design consultants) and Amion (economics & financial management consultancy).
The Inis Cealtra Visitor Experience, which is being funded in partnership with the Department of Rural and Community Development through the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, represents an exciting milestone following detailed preparatory work by the Local Authority’s Tourism Department.
The project seeks to conserve Inis Cealtra as an important historical, ecclesiastical, archaeological and cultural site; as well as expand its attractiveness as a sustainable tourism destination and, in so doing, address population decline and rural deprivation by providing social and economic benefits derived from tourism for East Clare and the wider Mid-West region.
It is encouraging to see new and innovative tourism projects being progressed by the Tourism Department following a period of unprecedented challenges for the Irish tourism sector. The Elected Members are very supportive of this project, and the Council continues to engage closely with Mountshannon Community Council.