More time needed for tourists to storm the castle

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180610BMAN extension to the opening season for Desmond Castle in Newcastle West is being sought from the Office of Public Works (OPW) to increase tourist activity in West Limerick.

Local Sinn Féin councillor Seamus Browne, who called on Limerick City and County Council to request that the season runs from April to September instead of from May to August, said that this would have the potential to increase tourist revenues for Newcastle West and the West Limerick area.

“This is why I have brought a motion to Limerick City and County Council. I think a request that has the full support of our Council should carry a lot of weight with the OPW Heritage Division which ultimately has the power to decide on this issue.”

“Visitor numbers have been increasing in recent times and the fact that it has free entry is a further bonus.”

Cllr Browne has also called for the establishment of a Tourist Forum for County Limerick.

“A number of other counties already have a Tourist Forum where all stakeholders work collectively to ensure tourist potential is maximised. Limerick County badly needs a Forum established. The County towns of Limerick need jobs and one source is tourism. But it won’t happen unless all stakeholders come together and build a plan to grow our visitor numbers,” he concluded.

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In response, a spokesman for the OPW said that visitor numbers to Desmond Hall had steadily increased over recent years from 4,290 in 2012 to 9,415 in 2013, 11,150 in 2014 and 11,362 in 2015. This is due in no small part to the dedicated efforts of OPW guide staff at Desmond Hall and also to the OPW’s commitment to promote and market less-visited heritage sites where it is considered an increase in visitor numbers is sustainable without damaging the heritage fabric of the site.”

“The OPW also facilitates local history societies, school tours and active retirement groups wishing to visit the site by prior appointment during the “closed” season.

“Unfortunately it is not possible to extend the season at Desmond Hall due to resource constraints. In this instance the ‘Friends of Irish Heritage’ initiative may be of interest. This initiative was introduced to invite interested local groups to join with the OPW to present sites such as Desmond Hall to out-of-season visitors on a volunteer basis,” the spokesman concluded.

by Alan Jacques

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