Council engages with Shannon Group on heritage sites

Council engages with Shannon Group on heritage sites


Clare County Council has engaged with Shannon Group to commence a due diligence process to consider the potential transfer by Shannon Group PLC of Shannon Heritage (Clare-based visitor attractions) to Clare County Council as a subsidiary company.

The proposed transfer of Shannon Heritage’s portfolio of visitor attractions in County Clare from Shannon Group plc to Clare County Council is to be brought to Cabinet for approval this afternoon.

Pat Dowling, Chief Executive of Clare County Council, welcomes the opportunity to engage in the due diligence process on the Shannon Heritage visitor attractions in Clare without prejudice to the outcome of the research. He thanked the Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, Cllr PJ Ryan, and the Elected Members who have also supported the commencement of the due diligence process.

Chair of the Clare Tourism Advisory Forum, Mr Sean Lally, welcomed the news as a very positive development for tourism in the county and for the strengthening of its visitor attraction portfolio. He noted that Clare County Council has considerable experience of operating existing visitor attractions with the assistance of two other subsidiary companies (the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre Limited and Kilrush Amenity Trust Ltd). Mr Lally added that the timing of this news is pertinent given the recent launch of the Clare Tourism Strategy 2030. Subject to this due diligence process, this very positively establishes the strategic direction for Clare in spreading the benefits of tourism across the communities of the county.

Vice Chair of the Clare Tourism Advisory Forum, Mr Maurice Walsh, also welcomed the news of both parties entering into a process of due diligence, “Given the devastating effect the Covid-19 pandemic has had on tourism in the county, bringing certainty to the future operation and development of Shannon Group portfolio of visitor attractions is vital to tourism’s recovery throughout Clare. Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, Craggaunowen and Knappogue Castle attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. This supports tourism and broader economic development in the county. The visitors they attract also helps to underpin direct access services through Shannon Airport. The role of these attractions in the future will be even more critical to the success of tourism in the county.”

Clare County Council Chief Executive Pat Dowling – Photo: Arthur Ellis

Chair of the Board of the Cliffs of Moher Centre Ltd, Mr Bobby Kerr, welcomes the news from Government this morning that Clare County Council and Shannon Group will be working together on the due diligence process to prepare for the future of the Clare visitor attractions under the auspices of Shannon Heritage. There is a lot of positive synergy between the Cliffs of Moher, Bunratty, Vandeleur Walled Gardens, Knappogue, Craggaunowen, Loophead Lighthouse and Inis Cealtra. I wish the process and innovative thinking every success.

Chair of the Board of Kilrush Amenity Trust (Vandeleur Walled Gardens and Loophead Lighthouse), Mr Noel Kilkenny, commented that this is wonderful news as it protects the very valuable heritage sites proven to be successful attractions and great employment for the people of Clare. With the new proposed new ownership of these sites, this will allow for a period of further stability and growth.