Brand new experience for visitors
'A brand new visitor experience' was launched amid speeches and songs as the refurbished national 1798 Rebellion Centre was opened in Enniscorthy on Friday.
Manager Jacqui Hynes and her staff are bidding to treble the number of tourists coming to the centre at Arnold's Cross to enjoy the €178,000 re-fit for the centre. Ms Hynes put out an appeal for tour groups, across the range from school parties to retirement groups, to put the '98 Centre on their must-visit list – not least because the freshly cooked scones are the best in the South East.
The spectacular refurbishment, using the latest video technology from local firm MMID, was paid for by Wexford Local Development with the backing of Enniscorthy Town Council and Wexford County Council, in the expectation that the investment will show a return in terms of paying customers.
Business consultant Tony Ennis, who advised on the project, confirmed that the target is to bring in 20,000 extra visitors a year to the centre. 'It has not fulfilled its potential in the last 15 years,' Tony Ennis accepted. 'The centre was fantastic when it opened in 1998 but you have to refurbish. You always have to keep re-inventing yourself because the market is always changing.' He pointed out that much of the technology used by MMID was simply not available to the original designers.
And he had a message for anyone thinking of coming to Enniscorthy: 'Sunny day or wet day, irrespective of the weather, you can still have a really good experience here for an hour or two.'
Friday's ceremony included an appearance by local ballad singers Paddy Berry, Phil Berry, John Ennis and Niall Wall, all in fine voice. Speeches were made by town council cathaoirleach Keith Doyle, county council chairwoman Kathleen Codd Nolan, Wexford Local Development chairman Pat Rath and Cllr Seán Óg Doyle.
'The new tour tells the story of the 1798 rebellion in a whole new light and visitors young and not so young will enjoy the experience,' reckoned Seán Óg Doyle, in his role as chairman of the centre's board of directors. He felt that the changes have made the centre more visitor friendly and he described the new audio-visual presentation of the battle of Vinegar Hill as spectacular.
Prayers for unity among Irish people were led by Bishop Denis Brennan, Archdeacon Chris Long, and, representing the Presbyterian community, Rev Michael Anderson. The bishop commented that the fateful weeks of rebellion in the summer of 1798 – when around 20,000 fatal Wexford casualties occurred – continue to influence those who live in the county more than two centuries later.
'It is now over to us to make this fly – and it will,' said centre manager Jacqui Hynes confidently, looking forward to the centre having prime appeal among a network of tourist attractions being promoted across all of Wexford.