Local TD Denis Naughten has said heritage tourism is an overlooked element of the tourism industry in this country which if developed could offer serious potential for the industry locally.
Deputy Naughten, who was speaking at the opening of Rinn Duinn Heritage Day in Lecarrow, Co. Roscommon, said: “Rinn Duinn as one of the best preserved Norman walled towns in Ireland and has huge tourism potential that could make it the jewel of heritage tourism in County Roscommon.
“It is time we maximised the huge potential of Co. Roscommon as a centre for Heritage Tourism. Roscommon, with the River Shannon flowing along its eastern border and with its outstanding tradition of culture and heritage, is uniquely placed to develop a vibrant tourism industry,” stated Deputy Naughten.
“Rathcroghan, in the heart of the county, was the home of the Kings of Connacht and, at a later time, the home of the High Kings of Ireland. The Napoleonic fortifications at Shannon Bridge are also worth viewing. The county is also home to some of Ireland’s most exquisite buildings. Boyle Abbey, for example, is amongst the finest Cistercian churches that survived in Ireland. King House, a magnificently restored Georgian mansion built around 1730, and Strokestown House, another superb 18th century mansion with its impressive famine museum, are other examples of Roscommon’s vast potential for tourism.
“Not only can we offer the traditional view of heritage but also more recent heritage such as the Arigna Mining Experience that offers an alternative perspective of times past.
“However this potential to market Roscommon as a ‘heritage county’ has not been capitalised upon. Last year close to 2.5m tourists visited historic houses and castles throughout Ireland, with mainland Europe being a key market for this sector of the industry.
“It is also important to note that 700,000 tourists participated in hiking and cross country walking; something that Roscommon has in abundance. But uniquely places like Rinn Duinn looped walks, the Suck Valley way and miner’s way in Arigna are able to combine very well both aspects of this type of tourism.
“We need to see the tourism industry developed more fully around the areas of culture and heritage in an effort to counteract the overall decline in the number of bed nights spent by overseas tourists in less developed counties like Roscommon.
“Heritage tourism provides us with a unique opportunity for a 21st century Ireland. We have the product, which has again been highlighted in the last week with Heritage Week events. But what is needed now is the promotion and marketing of this unique natural resource to attract overseas visitors into the very heart of Ireland,” concluded Denis Naughten.