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A decision on a funding application to develop the Inis Cealtra Visitor Experience in Mountshannon is expected soon. Photograph by Eamon Ward

Decision due on Inis Cealtra visitor experience funding

A DECISION on funding for the long-awaited Inis Cealtra Visitor Experience Centre is expected to be made in the coming weeks, Deputy Michael McNamara has been told in Dáil Éireann.

The Independent TD questioned Minister Heather Humphreys as to when there would be news on a major funding application made by Clare County Council. A Category 1 application was made, in April, by the Council to the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund (RRDF).

Deputy McNamara sought a statement from the Minister for Rural and Community Development in relation for the timeframe on that funding decision. 

The Fine Gael minister told the Scariff TD that she understood that the application in question was made to the fourth round of funding, which closed at the end of April.

“My Department received 42 applications to this call, together seeking funding of over €149 million,” Minister Humphreys said. “I understand that an application was received for the project referred to by the Deputy.”

She added that: “Once the assessment process is complete, my Department will prepare a report setting out recommended projects. My role as Minister will be to consider that report and make final decisions in relation to the allocation of funding. I expect to be in a position to announce the successful projects in the coming weeks.”

Category 1 applications relate to “large scale ambitious capital projects with all necessary planning and other consents in place, and which are ready to proceed”, Minister Humphreys added. 

Having taken Inis Cealtra into public ownership in 2015, the Council earmarked the The Old Rectory for redevelopment, given that the prominent site overlooks Mountshannon Harbour and Lough Derg.

After the building was purchased, for an undisclosed sum, in 2021, works have been underway to repurpose and refurbish it. The hope has been expressed that the centre might be open to visitors by 2023. The building will serve as a mainland visitor centre, which will interpret the seventh century monastic site of Inis Cealtra and its surrounds. 

The Visitor Experience project is a collaborative project involving Clare County Council, Irelands Hidden Heartlands (Fáilte Ireland), Waterways Ireland, the Office of Public Works (OPW), The National Monuments Service and The National Parks and Wildlife Service.

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