A ground-breaking new virtual reality experience was launched by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on Friday, September 6 at Lismore Heritage Centre in Waterford following a €75,000 investment by Fáilte Ireland.
An Taoiseach was the first to try out the new Lismore Castle Experience at Lismore Heritage Centre - a 3D experience which brings visitors on an immersive tour inside the private home of Lord and Lady Burlington at Lismore Castle.
Through a virtual reality headset, visitors are transported into the world of Lismore Castle’s past where they will see the characters who shaped the site and town including Fred Astaire, Sir Walter Raleigh and John F Kennedy.
Visitors will also be brought back in time to discover The Lismore Crozier which was unearthed in a blocked-up doorway of Lismore Castle.
Other highlights include an augmented reality experience that animates the stories of the objects found in the castle.
This is one of 19 new technology-driven visitor experiences to open over the coming year across Ireland’s Ancient East as part of Fáilte Ireland’s €2.3million Storytelling Interpretation Grants Scheme. This scheme is designed to transform the quality of
interpretation, animation and storytelling at existing heritage and visitor attractions throughout Ireland’s Ancient East.
The new Lismore Castle visitor experience will cost a total of €100,000 including investment from Lismore Heritage Company CLG, Waterford City and County Council and reinvestment from the Lismore Heritage Centre.
Launching the new experience at Lismore Heritage Centre, An Taoiseach Leo Varakar, said: “At Lismore, our past is all around us. We see it in the fine architectural heritage and in the traces from ancient times as well as in the evidence of the Vikings and the Normans here and the new Lismore Castle experience shines a light on an exciting past and projects it to all parts of Ireland and beyond."
"So far we have invested about €2.1 million on 19 different projects as part of a scheme to improve the quality of interpretation animation, and storytelling through the Ancient East."
"In Lismore, I think we have something that every visitor to Ireland will want to see. The government firmly believes that heritage is something that we want to share with the world and we need to invest in that to make it possible. Our ambition is to help towns like Lismore and towns all over the country to thrive and for that reason, the government through Failte Ireland gave a grant of €75,000 to finance this experience."
"That was added to funding from the Heritage company and also from Waterford city and county council and that allowed us to turn this vision into a reality.”
Jenny De Saulles, Head of Ireland’s Ancient East at Fáilte Ireland, said the new Virtual Reality experience was fundamental in meeting the ever-increasing expectations of domestic and international tourists: “Ireland’s Ancient East has the most extensive range of built heritage in Europe including tombs older than the pyramids, historic castles, ruined abbeys, great fortresses and amazing sites like Lismore."
"When overseas visitors come to Ireland, they not only want to visit these great attractions – they want to hear first-hand the stories about Ireland at that time and the people who lived and worked in the area. What is most valuable to visitors from our core overseas markets is the chance to participate, and not simply be bystanders."
“At Fáilte Ireland, we are always looking for opportunities to stimulate the development of brilliant visitor experiences, and the new experience at Lismore Heritage Centre is testament to what can be achieved through investment and innovation. We are delighted to see An Taoiseach opening this new experience, which is just one of 19 projects set to open following funding from our Ireland’s Ancient East Storytelling Interpretation grants scheme – each project brings to life local heritage and culture and will transform the tourism appeal of each area.”
Mealla Fahey, Project Manager at Lismore Heritage Centre, said: "Over the past few years visitors have been surveyed to see what they want when they arrive in our town and the overwhelming result was that they wanted to know what the Castle was like from the inside. We were delighted to work with Lord and Lady Burlington and the staff at Lismore Estate to bring this to the visitor in the best way possible, using the latest technology to tell the story of this iconic building."
The Lismore Castle experience was officially opened by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the presence of Cllr John Pratt, Mayor of Waterford City and County, Michael Walsh, CEO of Waterford City and County Council, Jenny De Saulles, Fáilte Ireland, Lord Burlington, Michael Quinn, Chairman Lismore Heritage Company and Mealla Fahey, Manager Lismore Heritage Company.
The AIB sponsored launch was a true showcase of everything Lismore. Catering by Foleys on the Mall, The Vault and Lizzie Briens included Barrons Bakery Blaas served with Melleray Eggs mayonnaise, McGraths Beef and Knockanore Cheese with local relish. The makers of Boyle’s Gin- Blackwater Distillery, Dungarvan Brewery, Legacy Cider, Lismore Biscuits and Wild Oats Soap also showcased their award-winning products and entertainment was provided by the award-winning Booley House dancers and musicians.
The Lismore Castle Experience is a great day out to be enjoyed with friends and family and is open daily from March to December and Monday-Friday for January - February Tickets €10 per person (includes a personal guide) and can be bought online at www.discoverlismore.com or over the phone 058 54975
Duration: 45 minutes
For those who wish to linger for longer, you can avail of specially discounted ticket bundles to visit the Lismore Castle Arts and Gardens or The Robert Boyle Escape room.
For more information or to book visit www.discoverlismore.com or call 058 54975.