Clare Independent T.D. Michael McNamara has said the announcement by Clare County Council of plans to develop an Inis Cealtra (Holy Island) visitor centre in Mountshannon presents significant potential for the tourism sector and wider economy of East Clare.
Deputy McNamara added that the area surrounding Lough Derg and the Lower River Shannon needs an iconic site around which tourism can be developed and promoted.
He explained, “Prior to Covid, we witnessed a huge increase in tourism in Clare, but it has been almost exclusively focused on the west coast. Great credit is due to the hospitality businesses there for developing their product. However, there are less tourists in East Clare along the Shannon now compared to when I was growing up here. The whole of Lough Derg needs an iconic site around which tourism can be developed and promoted.”
“Lough Derg and the Lower Shannon needs an iconic site around which tourism can be promoted successfully as the Cliffs of Moher has been that site for West Clare,” stated Deputy McNamara. “Inis Cealtra is clearly that site for Lough Derg and the Lower Shannon and I am pleased to see that Clare County Council has acquired the site and is proposing to develop a visitor centre in Mountshannon because along with being an iconic site, Holy Island is also a national monument and a heritage site of international significance.”
“Tourism development needs to be sustainable and protective of the island itself. That development can take place in the site acquired by the Council. The provision of such a facility would lift the streetscape of Mountshannon and provide employment there and across the wider community of Lough Derg and Lower Shannon,” concluded Deputy McNamara.
Having taken 41 acres on the island into public ownership in 2015, Clare County Council has this week submitted a Part 8 Planning Application for The Old Rectory building overlooking Mountshannon Harbour and Lough Derg to progress a mainland visitor centre, which will interpret the seventh century monastic site of Inis Cealtra and its surrounds.
The Inis Cealtra Visitor Experience is a collaborative project involving Clare County Council, Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands (Fáilte Ireland), Waterways Ireland, the Office of Public Works (OPW), National Monuments Service and National Parks and Wildlife Service.