Downpatrick Head is well known to the people of Mayo, but with the start of the Wild Atlantic Way this year it is about to become a must-see tourist destination for visitors from all over the globe. To make sure that this comes to fruition, it was announced this week that €640,000 has been allocated to create a discovery point at Downpatrick Head as part of the Wild Atlantic Way. The development will see the include an iconic Spirit of Place installation built around a blowhole which will allow visitors to walk around its rim and experience it in a safe manner.
The funding was announced yesterday by Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Michael Ring. Minister Ring said: “The Wild Atlantic Way is a ‘game-changer’ for Mayo and the west. It has massive potential to bring more visitors and more jobs to rural communities right along the western seaboard. Today’s investment – creating or recreating compelling things to see and visit in Mayo - helps to make the route even more attractive and ensures that we develop its full potential in this county to deliver the greatest number of tourists.”
The Minister emphasised that the route is so vital to tourism that the Government had allocated €8 million for the project this year (which was announced in the 2014 Budget ).
Along with €2 million previously committed from Fáilte Ireland’s Tourism Capital Investment Programme - a total investment of €10 million will be made this year. The central work involved in today’s announcement will be the Blowhole Commemorative Installation, which is being designed and installed by American architect Travis Price, who has collaborated with Mayo County Council over the past seven years on an annual ‘Spirit of Place’ installation on a variety of sites around Mayo, including the ‘Tale of the Tongs – The Gathering’ installation on Inishturk which was completed in 2013 for the Gathering.
“The Blowhole Commemorative installation will consist of a walkway around the rim of the blowhole which will allow the visitor to experience the natural blowhole in a safe manner. A visitor experience of such close proximity is not possible at many other blowhole sites in Ireland. This project will represent one of the key ‘must-see’ Discovery Points along the Wild Atlantic Way and will form a compelling reason to visit the north Mayo stretch of the route as well as, importantly, acting as a gateway to Erris and the Belmullet Peninsula” said the Minister of State.
Deputy Michelle Mulherin also welcomed the news saying: “I had made the case working with locals for north Mayo to be included along the route and for funding to be made available and I am delighted that the Minister has responded favourably. This is an excellent tourism project which will complement the existing Ceide Fields Interpretative Centre which is located just down the road from Downpatrick Head. The dramatic coastal landscape at Downpatrick with its cliffs, sea stacks, blow holes, and lagoons is breathtakingly beautiful, and to me epitomises the raw energy that the idea of the Wild Atlantic Way evokes. It is a wonderful idea to enhance it and make it more accessible to locals and tourists alike. I have no doubt but with the right marketing and promotion Downpatrick can become a magnet for tourists akin to the Cliffs of Moher with spin off for locals and local businesses in Ballycastle including the Ballina area. I look forward to seeing the project progress in consultation with locals and other stakeholders.”