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The new tourist office in Mountshannon. Photograph by John Kelly

A new take on Mountshannon

Visitors to Mountshannon are to benefit from significant developments made by the local community council, in conjunction with the Aistear Field Committee, as the Aistear Tourist Office opened to the public this week.
This is the first of a number of initiatives being rolled out by Mountshannon Community Council this month, which are all geared at increasing footfall in the village, as well as catering for tourism.
The tourist office was officially opened on Monday, followed by the launch of the Mountshannon App on Thursday. The opening of an exhibition centre takes place on next Monday.
Following the successful rollout of Mountshannon.com, a website featuring upcoming events, community pages, tourist information and historical details pertaining to the area, the local council decided to develop an app. This decision facilitated further discussion and out of this came the idea to provide a tourist office.
Tom McNamara, supervisor of the CE scheme in Mountshannon, explained how it evolved from there.
“We had our own website up and we decided we were going to create an app and when we had that created, we decided that some of the people who come to Mountshannon wouldn’t know what they can do in the area. We first published a booklet, but we decided that was too expensive and we couldn’t sell that to people, so then we decided to do the app and that we would combine it all into a tourist office in the Aistear building. That is what the Aistear building was created for, a tourist and exhibition centre,” he said.
The tourist office will be based in the centre of the maze in Mountshannon’s Aistear building and is hoped to be open for a minimum of 30 hours a week. It will also have a computer, which will be available to visitors and which will contain relevant tourist information.
This office, which will be staffed by members of the Mountshannon CE Scheme and local volunteers, will provide a wealth of local history and tourist information for the local area and County Clare. Mr McNamara said it is envisaged that two people will be based at the tourist office at a time, with at least one of the two being from the locality with a good knowledge of the area and places of interest.
“It will be run through the CE scheme and we will also have volunteers as well. We will have information on the white tailed sea eagles and all the current things happening in Mountshannon. We will have the tourist office open from the St Patrick’s Day weekend to the October Bank Holiday weekend and we’d like to open the exhibition space all year around,” Mr McNamara revealed.
There will also be a small gift shop with souvenir items relating to the White Tailed Sea Eagles and other items of interest. Mr McNamara explained that it is hoped the proceeds from these items will help cover the running costs of the project.
“All proceeds of these sales will be used for the development of the centre. We hope to have the tourist office open six hours a day, five days a week. We’ll be aiming for 10am to 4pm, something like that. If we get on well, we might extend it,” he said.
The community council will launch the app on Thursday in Mountshannon Hotel at 10pm, which provides local visitor information the group researched for the tourist office and booklet project. There will be a demonstration of the app for smart phones and mobile devices that evening. The simple to use app gives users directions to Mountshannon and provides information on local features, history of the area, photographs and an events calendar.
On Monday next, the community council will launch the exhibition centre, also situated within the Aistear building. This will open with a photographic exhibition from the University of Limerick, facilitated by local woman Patricia Moriarty. Plans are already underway to host works by two local artists in further exhibitions thereafter.
“We are also working on an exhibition about Holy Island and we hope to have that ready for next summer. We have several exhibitions scheduled throughout the summer months,” Mr McNamara added.
All of the hosted exhibitions are free to the public but any donations made will go towards the running of the centre.

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