PLANS for the development of Holy Island have received a major boost after Clare County Council confirmed the purchase, in recent days, of the Old Rectory in Mounthshannon for an undisclosed sum.
Welcoming the local authority purchase, Killaloe Municipal District Cathaoirleach Councillor Joe Cooney said this deal will facilitate the provision of a new visitor and interpretative centre for Inis Cealtra and the wider region.
“This is the first critical step on the way towards delivering on the financial potential of this large scale tourism project, which in time will generate employment as well as a wide range of local and regional economic benefits,” he said.
“This is a big step forward for the development of Holy Island. To renovate this building for the purpose that is required will need funding,” the cathaoirleach noted.
“It is hoped that finance for the upgrading of this building be obtained from the national Rural Regeneration Programme. It is a massive boost for tourism in Clare and the Mid-West region.”
He acknowledged the tourism department of Clare County Council and local councillors for getting the project to this very important stage.
Meanwhile, Councillor Pat Burke urged those looking to invest in the hospitality sector to consider locating in the lakeside town.
He warmly welcomed news of the purchase and congratulated the local authority for getting the acquisition across the line.
“People had been very anxious for news on the redevelopment of the rectory as an interpretative centre for Holy Island,” he said.
“They were aware that a lot of work was taking place in the background and it’s wonderful now that the local authority have concluded the purchase.
“I want to commend everyone involved in the projected to-date and look forward to all of the work that is to come with the support of the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund (RRDF).
“The Inis Cealtra visitor experience centre will be a huge catalyst for developing tourism right across East Clare. This step is huge testament to the work of the council’s officials and its Tourism staff in particular.”
Councillor Burke highlighted several opportunities in the town and surrounding area for spin-off tourism interests.
“We have a wonderful pub and restaurant in Mountshannon and there is scope now to get someone to take on the hotel,” he said.
“For anyone looking to invest in tourism, this is a no-brainer. There are huge opportunities now to get involved in the major spin-off benefits that will come from the development of the Inis Cealtra centre.”
In May of this year, members of Clare County Council signed off on a Part Eight planning application to redevelop the Old Rectory.
The plan was proposed by Councillor Burke and seconded by Councillor Pat Hayes.
Having taken 41 acres on Inis Cealtra into public ownership in 2015, the council earmarked the The Old Rectory for redevelopment given that the site overlooks Mountshannon Harbour and Lough Derg. 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, Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands (Fáilte Ireland), Waterways Ireland, the Office of Public Works (OPW), The National Monuments Service and The National Parks and Wildlife Service.
It is understood the last owner of the old rectory building is JP Ryan.
by Dan Danaher and Fiona McGarry