The Lake County’s top heritage and tourist attractions will be more accessible to visitors through a brand new free app launched in Mullingar this week.
The new Lakelands Treasures iPhone app is a pilot initiative which was launched on Wednesday (February 5 ) at Belvedere House. The app gives users a chance to tour heritage sites, as well as see the locations for other tourist attractions, and restaurants. There is also a treasure hunt feature for children.
Colm Breheny of Fáilte Ireland has said the app will match the phenomenal growth in use of mobile technology to the research which shows that two in three visitors visit a heritage site while in Ireland.
Athlone Castle and Belvedere House are already available on the app, and the features allow users to start anywhere in the Lakelands area and be led to the nearest attraction “with clues, hints, and a secret to be revealed at the end”.
Mullingar’s Eanna Rowe, who is Waterways Ireland’s marketing manager, is co-chair of the organising team.
He said Lakelands Treasures is an engaging, family friendly app, and hopes it will become the number one tool for visitors to the Midlands.
At a busy launch in Belvedere House, he described letting his two children enjoy Belvedere on the app using an iPhone and iPad while he had a cup of coffee in peace. “And we all had a great time,” he said.
He also paid tribute to the work of the region’s heritage officers whose local knowledge is an intrinsic part of how the app was developed.
Cllr Fintan Cooney, speaking after the launch, said the app is a very positive development featuring two magnificent sites.
“I hope it will increase tourism in county Westmeath,” he said.
Lakelands and Inlands Waterways Ireland, which is spearheading the new venture believes there is a huge untapped heritage story to be told, involving the built heritage and Christian heritage trail, in this part of the country.
The project is supported by Fáilte Ireland, the county councils, Waterways Ireland and the Midland Regional Authority, whose chairman Cllr John Bonham described the app as “the start of something good” for the region.
The 10 sites from Laois, Offaly, Westmeath, Longford, and Roscommon are just the beginning.
“We would hope to grow those sites to a hundred very, very quickly,” Mr Rowe said.
The organisation is looking for anybody who has a heritage attraction, whether it’s in state ownership or private ownership to contact their local heritage officer to get their details uploaded on the app.
Those interested are being urged to contact their local heritage officer. Westmeath does not have a heritage officer, but heritage issues are managed by the county’s conservation architect, Bernadette Solan.