€12.5million investment announced for world-class tourist attraction at Fort Dunree

The Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin and Fáilte Ireland today announced a total investment of €12.5million to develop a new world-class tourist attraction at Fort Dunree and Head in Buncrana, Co.Donegal.

Thursday, 10th June 2021, 4:25 pm

Fáilte Ireland is investing €9.3million into the project.

Over the first five years of operation this project will generate €19.5m in direct tourism expenditure supporting 550 jobs in the area and 12 new jobs will be created at the attraction. 

Fort Dunree and Head proposes a compelling visitor experience that will showcase its considerable maritime, military, social and political history, telling engaging stories across each of these facets. Fort Dunree has a distinctive mix of physical assets – the High Fort with watchtowers providing a spectacular 360-degree panoramic view and perspective of this part of Inishowen; one of the best collections of coastal guns in the world; military memorabilia and artefacts; and a lighthouse.

Plans for Fort Dunree.

The proposed Funicular (which will be the only one in Ireland) will offer visitors a “thrilling ascent” to the High Fort, whilst its descent will provide breath-taking views of Lough Swilly and its surroundings. A further key value proposition is the development of the glass walkway, bridging two elements of the site and providing spectacular views of the natural environment.

The Donegal 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, Dublin and Mayo were also successful applicants under the Scheme.

All four new and strategically important large-scale visitor attractions will unlock regional dispersal of visitors and extend the tourism season in these regions beyond the traditional summer months. 

The unique attractions that have been offered Fáilte Ireland investment funding are: Shannon Pot & Cavan Burren Park, Blacklion, Co. Cavan - €4.8million Fáilte Ireland investment; Fort Dunree & Head, Buncrana, Co. Donegal - €9.3million Fáilte Ireland investment; ‘This is Ireland’ North City Centre, Dublin 1 - €10million Fáilte Ireland investment

and Westport House Estate & Gardens, Westport, Co. Mayo -€20.2million Failte Ireland investment

Liam Ward, Director of Community Development & Planning Services, Donegal County Council said: “The development of Fort Dunree and Head using this Fáilte Ireland funding will be transformational for the tourism offering in Donegal and the surrounding areas. We look forward to commencing the project, which will encourage more visitors, domestic and international, to explore and spend time in this uniquely beautiful part of Ireland. This exciting project has been developed in partnership with the Fort Dunree Military Museum Group, Commission of Irish Lights and other stakeholders and we acknowledge their contribution to this positive development today.”

Fáilte Ireland’s approach to investments in attractions is underpinned by a requirement of operators to deliver international best practice standards.  The projects awarded funding under Platforms for Growth 1 were strategically selected under strict eligibility criteria* that displayed the greatest potential for economic impact in their region.  They successfully demonstrated substantial capacity to drive visitors to the area; increase employment; lengthen the tourist season; a commitment to operate under the highest international commercial standards for visitor attractions; and strengthen the portfolio of Irish visitor experiences for domestic and international audiences.

Platforms for Growth (PFG) is one of a number of investment mechanisms that Fáilte Ireland has developed in recent years to drive sustainable development of the tourism sector leading to job creation and revenue growth. PFG is funded under the Government’s Project Ireland 2040 strategy.

Fáilte Ireland as the National Tourism Development Authority will continue to invest significantly over the coming years and intends to launch further investment schemes to deliver key strategic initiatives to support the recovery of the tourism sector. Included in this will be investment schemes linked to the outcome of regional tourism plans which are currently being developed.