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Tourism experts to visit East Clare as part of national conference

As part of the 21st National Tourism Conference, held annually in Ennistymon, delegates attending the conference will visit East Clare as part of an organised trip showcasing the county’s tourist destinations.
This conference will see tourism industry officials and members of local authorities, County Enterprise Boards, partnerships, and all public and private bodies involved in the promotion of tourism in Ireland, descend on the county this week.
This is the first time East Clare has been chosen as a visiting destination for the tourism conference delegates and Lorna Moloney, vice-chairperson of East Clare Heritage, explained that it was extremely positive for the region to have the delegation visit the scenic area.
It is understood that the delegation will visit the East Clare Heritage offices at St Cronan’s Church in Tuamgraney this Friday at 10am in advance of the national conference.
The delegation will be given a rundown of the operations there, a history of the Westropp Collection and they will also learn about the Cathsaoireach. The Cathsaoireach project was undertaken by East Clare Heritage in the mid-1990s, which restored a famine graveyard in Tuamgraney. It stands as a memorial to the thousands who were buried there during the Famine.
Formed in 1989, East Clare Heritage is a not-for-profit voluntary group, with the primary objective of protecting, promoting and ultimately creating access to the vast heritage of East Clare.
Within three years, St Cronan’s Church in Tuamgraney, dating back to the 10th century, was refurbished for use as a heritage centre. In 2002, East Clare Heritage received charitable status.
Speaking about what East Clare Heritage does and what they will showcase as part of the promotional trip, Ms Moloney said, “We own part of The Westropp Collection and we are currently working on digitising this collection and getting that ready for public viewing for 2010.
“TJ Westropp wrote extensively on the history of East Clare and his writings are of immense value in relation to deeds of the area. He catalogued the history of the mansion houses in Ireland and the estates in County Clare.
“We are applying to the Heritage Council for funding to enable us to digitally archive the collection so it is available to the public. We want the people of Clare to have access to them.
“We will, however, have one week of viewing during Heritage Week next year – subject to funding.”
Ms Moloney will speak on the day, as will chairman of East Clare Heritage, Ger Madden, with the focus being the promotion of East Clare and Lough Derg.
Since its formation, the group has continued against the odds to keep its heritage centre open and in 2004 became a sponsor of a FÁS scheme to support the cultural initiative.
Ms Moloney, said that county council funding has been pulled in recent times but this East Clare Heritage is doing fine with credit due to the strong committee. The museum, which runs from St Cronan’s Church, is open Monday to Friday, manned by FÁS workers, and fundraising is ongoing to maintain the organisation’s high operations.
Ms Moloney said the group was anxious to promote St Cronan’s, which is the oldest church in continued use in Europe, as well as highlighting the strong connection the region has with Brian Ború.
“East Clare is a scenic area and we are anxious to promote it as an unspoilt landscape with a lot to offer,” she added.
For more information about the organisation, visit www.eastclareheritage.com.
This year’s National Tourism Conference will be opened by former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern Friday afternoon.

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