Tuesday 18 June 2019

€7m plan for shipwrecks experience

Plans to develop a sensory-laden shipwrecks experience to set the heart racing unveiled ahead of fun-filled new lighthouse offerings

Hook Lighthouse
Hook Lighthouse
Hook Lighthouse manager Ann Waters

David Looby

A €7m plan to create an amazing Shipwrecks exhibit at Hook Lighthouse has been unveiled.

Wexford County Council has applied for the funding in the National Development Plan rural regeneration development funding scheme.

Addressing plans for the developments of the tourist experience offering at the venue over the coming years at Hook Tourism's AGM in Fethard-on-Sea, Hook Lighthouse manager Ann Waters said the board of management are waiting on news of the funding.

The new lighthouse feature experience will be Shipwrecks based on how the Hook Crook estuary became known as the graveyard of a thousand ships.

The Shipwrecks concept was developed over an eight month period and planning permission will be sought if funding is granted, once the final design is completed.

If successful an e-tender will then go out for the build which would see the buildings stretching from the cafe down to the wall developed and extended.

The Shipwrecks experience will familiarise visitors to shipwrecks off the Hook coast. Partly set in a dark tunnel where visitors feel like they are in the eye of a storm and can see shipwrecks, the plan is to offer an unrivalled sensory experience.

Ms Waters explained: 'We are in the National Development Plan but we still have to get the money. The first phase would cost around €100,000 to finalise the concept and plans. Then we'd have to apply again for the funding. I know everybody is excited to see it and disaster tourism is where it's at in the industry. This is about shipwrecks so it should be dramatic and get your heart racing and be a little bit scary.'

Narrated accounts of the shipwrecks, including the Earl of Sandwich legend at Dollar Bay and the German submarine wreck, will be provided, which will include images and dramatic footage placing the visitor in the heart of the action.

'It offers an exciting sensory experience and visitors escape on lifeboats into the moonlight. Fáilte Ireland are looking for game changers and anchor experiences so the experience we are looking to provide would have to be up to that level,' Ms Waters said.

She said: 'The new digital experience would be at the car park. It wraps around the original buildings where have more restrictions on them than the monument. We prepared this concept because Fáilte Ireland were going to announce new capital funding last year. If it doesn't come through we will be back to Failte Ireland next year.'

She said the earliest possible ribbon cutting would be 2021. 'Once funding is announced we can go straight into further concept development. We just don't know at the moment.'

Plans are advanced for an ecology awareness centre led by an ecology sheriff for schools and tour groups to be launched next summer.

A pirate ship is also planned for the green area in keeping with the lighthouse teams emphasis on making learning a fun and interactive experience.

'We are talking to John Hickey in FLAG to get an education station and an enhanced amenity area based around the importance of the environment. This would be in the generator room.'

The Majesty or Land and Sea concept would include a science gallery, interactive geology, geography and environment technology.

Wexford People

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