Funding boost for Westport tourism

The Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin and Fáilte Ireland announced a total investment of €36.1million to develop a new world-class tourist attraction at Westport House and Garden Estate. Fáilte Ireland is investing €20.2million into the project.

It is expected that the first five years of this projected that €33m will be generated in direct tourism expenditure supporting 1,000 jobs in the area with 66 new jobs created.

The restoration and reimagining of the Westport House and Gardens Estate will offer visitors a multi-layered, multi-day experience. A key element is the ‘Wild Realms’ project which will allow visitors to connect with nature and absorb the vibrant sights, smells and sounds of the wild flora and native woodlands across the estate.

Visitors will be able to explore ancient Irish rituals and our ancestors’ connections to the land as told through a series of accessible wild and natural spaces. Westport House and Gardens will also be restored. Visitors can enjoy the enhanced experience of the grand house with its formal gardens and learn about the Grace O’Malley family who lived there for centuries.

The Mayo project is just one of four projects announced by Minister Martin as part of a €73million investment programme under Fáilte Ireland’s Platforms for Growth Investment Grants Scheme for Immersive Heritage and Cultural Attractions. Fáilte Ireland is investing €44.3million and a total match funding of €29million from public and private project partners.

Attractions in Cavan, Donegal and Dublin were also successful applicants under the scheme.

Minister Catherine Martin said: “Today’s significant funding announcement will ensure world-class visitor attractions are created that will attract domestic and international tourists to the four locations which will not just benefit the counties where they’re located but will motivate people to stay longer and explore more widely across the region.

“This investment in creative and impactful large-scale visitor experiences is critical to strengthening Ireland’s reputation internationally as a must-visit holiday destination and provides a catalyst for further innovation in the tourism sector. This is the most significant investment in visitor attractions ever undertaken by Fáilte Ireland that will have far-reaching national and regional economic benefits.”

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Paul Kelly, CEO of Fáilte Ireland added: “Driving regional tourism growth has always been a key priority for Fáilte Ireland but it is now more important than ever as we rebuild the sector and recover from the devastation of Covid19. The aim of the Platforms for Growth 1 funding scheme is to grow Ireland’s stock of large-scale visitor attractions to appeal to both domestic and international visitors. The standard of applications received for this scheme was incredibly high and we are encouraged by the level of innovation and creativity demonstrated. The four awarded projects are truly best-in-class. They are diverse, engaging and unique and will help visitors connect with Ireland and bring the country’s vibrant culture, heritage and people to life.”

Barry O’Connor, CEO of Westport House and Garden Estate, said: “We are incredibly proud that Westport Estate has been chosen to receive this Fáilte Ireland grant. The funding, along with the investment from the Hughes family, will enable us to take our offering to the next level and transform Westport Estate into a world-class tourism destination.

“We have an exciting vision for the project which includes the restoration of Westport House and the reimagining of its 300-year history, along with a new immersive visitor experience that will tell the story of the legendary Grace O’Malley, the Pirate Queen of Connacht.

“In partnership with acclaimed designer Mary Reynolds, we will also be creating a very different and uniquely Irish landscape experience connecting the earth with Irish heritage. This public private partnership will have an enormous positive impact on Westport and the wider region.”


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