Shannon Group has confirmed that it is in discussions with local authorities in Clare and Limerick on the transfer of the Shannon Heritage company and all its visitor attractions in Co. Clare (including Bunratty Castle) to Clare County Council, with King John’s Castle transferring to Limerick City and County Council.
Commenting on the announcement, a spokesperson for the Group said: “The transfer of these heritage sites aligns with the two local authorities’ tourism development strategies and will provide opportunities for enhancing synergies and maximising the potential of these heritage sites in the region. The central role which local authorities are playing in tourism product development and sustainable tourism development make them a natural fit for Shannon Heritage.”
State agencies in the region are committed to recovery from the devastating impact Covid-19 has had on the airport and on overseas visitors to the Mid-West. The arrangements announced today will assist Shannon Group to focus on the recovery of the airport, building back international passengers as soon as possible, while continuing to develop its aviation cluster and associated property activities.
Shannon Group will maintain an important relationship with the visitor attractions by rebuilding vital air services at Shannon to support the return of much needed international tourists to Ireland.
While an agreement in principle has been reached with Clare County Council, it will take some months to conclude and is subject to due diligence and formal consent of the Ministers for Transport, Public Expenditure and Reform and agreement with the Minister for Housing Local Government and Heritage. It is the intention of the parties that the transfer will be completed by the end of 2021.
Engagement is taking place with employees and those directly affected by these changes. The employment rights of all its 200 employees will not change and will be fully protected.
The Shannon Heritage County Clare based visitor attractions to transfer to Clare County Council are:
Bunratty Castle & Folk Park; Knappogue Castle, Craggaunowen – Bronze Age Park, and the Cliffs of Moher retail outlet.
In tandem with this, a Heads of Agreement will provide for the transfer of King John’s Castle to Limerick City and County Council.
Shannon Group will shortly engage with interested parties concerning the future operation of Dunguaire Castle in Co. Galway.
Shannon Heritage currently manages a number of day visitor attractions in Dublin on behalf of Fingal County Council and An Post. It is Shannon Group’s intention to conclude these operating contracts and Shannon Group will work closely with both parties to ensure the smooth transition of the operations.
Commenting on the announcement a Shannon Group spokesperson said: “At a time of unprecedented challenge in the aviation sector, there is consensus that the recovery of aviation is critical to the recovery of tourism. 75% of our tourism economy is dependent on international visitation and 90% of those come by air.
“The agreement will enable Shannon Group to concentrate our energies on restoring passenger numbers at the airport, thereby supporting local economic activity, attracting tourists and enabling foreign and indigenous company investment in the region.
“Today’s announcement will ensure that the heritage sites are being managed by local authorities where there are synergies that can be further developed in line with their well-established tourism development strategies and will provide opportunities for maximizing future potential.
“We have come through many crises in the past and we got through them by planning for the future and focussing our efforts on where they have best impact,” the spokesperson said.