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Visitor centre mooted for Mountshannon

A NEW visitor centre in Mountshannon to facilitate the hundreds of tourists viewing the first white-tailed sea eaglets on Bushy Island may be provided in the coming months, if plans come to fruition.


Clare County Council is examining if planning permission would be needed for a viewing area with ancillary services such as an information board in Mountshannon following a request from Councillor Pat Burke.

Councillor Burke believes the arrival of two sea eaglets on Bushy Island – the first born in over 100 years in Ireland – provides the potential for a major tourist attraction in East Clare.
Interest generated by the arrival of the eaglets is expected to soar next month when a satellite tracking transmitter is placed on one of them.

Bird enthusiasts in the Mid-West will get the opportunity to watch live footage of one of the eaglets on the internet around the clock once they are measured.
The Golden Eagle Trust plans to determine the sex of the two eaglets when they are seven or eight weeks old and will also place an ordinary transmitter on one and a satellite device on the other, to ensure they can both be tracked once they leave the nest.

With the number of visitors to Mountshannon expected to increase steadily during the summer, Councillor Burke feels it is important an appropriate facility is provided to cater for their needs and to make the whole viewing experience even more attractive.
“The provision of a visitor centre would be very worthwhile. You couldn’t have planned the birth of the eaglets on the island if you tried. It was an act of nature. They could have landed elsewhere. The island is very accessible from a viewing point and it is great the eagles can be seen without having to go on the island,” he said.

Having met senior executive engineer Hugh McGrath and director of service planning, community and enterprise and economic development, Ger Dollard, in Mountshannon recently to discuss the feasibility of a new viewing area, Councillor Burke believes Mr Dollard has a vision for an attractive environmentally sensitive structure.

Members of a local committee are also discussing this issue with the council to formulate a proposal that will meet the needs of visitors and locals alike.
A workshop at the harbour is being used as a base to provide information for tourists who want to view the eagles. There are plans to beam pictures from the nest in Bushy Island on to a building at the harbour and it is envisaged in the long term this could be transmitted to the Aister Park building in the village.

Mr Dollard stated the council is aware of the opportunity that exists in terms of facilitating visitors to see the eagles. However, he pointed out any new facility needs to take into account the conservation and environmental issues that arise.
An onsite meeting of interested parties was recently arranged to discuss what improvements could be brought about to facilitate those wishing to view the eagles, while at the same time respecting the overall sensitivity of the area.

Mr Dollard confirmed the council’s planning department, together with the appropriate architectural expertise, has started an assessment of the location to see if an appropriate viewing area can be provided.
The council has also sought information from suppliers of such units and viewing facilities as well as assessing the relevant statutory designations and other regulations.
Separately, the council is also engaging with the local community to ascertain how the community can best respond to the growing attractions of the eagles and, as a result, increase visitors to Mountshannon.

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