European funding to help develop Maritime Museum and Donegal plans

An artist's impression of how the Maritime Museum will look when completed.
An artist's impression of how the Maritime Museum will look when completed.

Funding secured from the European Union will help spearhead the development of Derry’s Maritime Museum alongside projects across Donegal, it has emerged.

Over £2m has been secured through the ERNACT programme towards an international TIDE project aimed at creating new Digital Age historical attractions in Europe’s Atlantic Regions.

TIDE, or Atlantic Network for Developing Historical Maritime Tourism, is jointly led by Derry & Strabane and Donegal Councils.
The project will commence in January 2019 with a budget of more than €2.4 million and will see eight partners from regions in the UK, Ireland, France, Spain and Portugal work together to develop new types of historical maritime tourist packages using digital transformation technologies to link cultural attractions on Europe’s Atlantic.

Chair of Derry City & Strabane District Council’s Governance & Strategic Planning Commitee, Gus Hastings, speaking in the Guildhall on Tuesday, said he was delighted that the bid for funding has been successful. “It will help us with the Maritime Museum and across the border with Greencastle, Dunree and possibly also Killybegs. Whilst it was a €2.4 million programme overall, I believe we have got the lion’s share which is over £1m.”

Donegal County Councillor and Vice Chair of the ERNACT EEIG Board of Management, Rena Donaghey, meanwhile said: “This will help us to utilise Donegal’s excellent maritime history and heritage, exemplified by the dedicated museums at Dunree, Greencastle and Killybegs, to create new visitor attractions that use digital technologies such as virtual reality.”

Colm Mc Colgan General Manager at ERNACT, said the project will enable Atlantic areas to share and combine digital research and innovation capacity “to create the next generation of visitor attractions based on our shared cultural and historical heritage.”

This can include museums, shipwreck sites and archives related to battles or migrating passengers and their stories. It will also include linking visitor centres to real underwater sites that contain shipwrecks or submarines and creating a richer visitor experience by introducing new technologies such as Virtual Reality.

Derry & Strabane Council is planning to transform the former army hospital building at Ebrington Square into a Maritime Museum and Archive Centre. Planning permission for the £8m project was granted almost a year ago, with the council currently in negotiations with other potential funders.