FORT DUNREE  – €12.5 million investment for re-imagined Immersive Heritage and Cultural Visitor Attraction at Fort Dunree, Co. Donegal.

Donegal County Council is delighted to welcome the announcement  by Catherine Martin TD,  Minister  for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media for a €9,251,000 investment for Fort Dunree, Co. Donegal. This investment has been awarded under Fáilte Irelands, Capital investment scheme Platform for Growth – A Programme for Tourism Investment, Platform 1: Immersive Heritage and Cultural Attractions.

This will be supported by €3.2 million  match funding committed by Donegal County Council providing a total Project value of €12.5 million investment.

This transformational tourism project at Fort Dunree is informed by a vision to reimagine the visitor experience at this spectacular Fort and Discovery Point along the Wild Atlantic Way.

Fáilte Ireland said that “The Dunree project displayed the greatest potential to increase employment, drive visitors to the region and lengthen the tourism season beyond the summer.   They indicated that over the first 5 years of operation the project will generate €19.5m in direct tourism expenditure supporting 550 jobs in the area and 12 new jobs will be created at the attraction”.

The project will physically link the 3 unique elements of Fort Dunree: Lough Swilly below the Fort; the Promontory Fort and the ‘High Guns’ Fort; provide immersive heritage and cultural touch points with a new route that opens up the site, with viewing points via modern interventions such as the proposed Funicular (the only one in Ireland)   and interpretive instillations, including the development of the Dunree Lighthouse.

The ambition is to reposition this defensive structure and site to allow visitors to imagine its past and experience its beauty from the sea to land perspective.

The investment is an important lever in repositioning Donegal and the North West as a destination.  It is anticipated that this new experience will attract over 100,000 visitors per annum  by year 10 and thereby have a significant impact in the creation of new employment  opportunities and  large scale economic activity   in the area.

The Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, Cllr Rena Donaghey welcomed the announcement and said “This is a very important endorsement by Failte Ireland in recognising the commitment and support from our stakeholders and communities towards the delivery of compelling and sustainable tourism experiences.   I would like to commend Donegal County Council and all involved for the work in developing this  exciting project and to thank the Minister for Tourism and Failte Ireland for the confidence placed in the potential of Donegal and their endorsement of its importance to our national tourism economy. I would also like to commend  Minister Charlie McConalogue in ensuring that Donegal received the maximum funding available.  This is a transformative project  for Inishowen.

Chief Executive of Donegal County Council, John McLaughlin said, “We work very closely with Failte Ireland and other agency partners to develop the tourism economy and visitor experiences that can make a real difference for all our communities.  Today’s announcement follows over 18 months of collaboration and consultation to ensure our submission was robust.

We now have a huge opportunity to grow the spectacular location to become a major flagship tourism project for the county.  The dedicated work of our excellent team together with the creative design and concepts produced has led to the successful announcement today”

The development of Fort Dunree as a Major Tourism Attraction will have a very positive local economic impact, more than doubling local spend and job creation.  It shall also add to the network of visitor attractions on the Inishowen Peninsula  and Donegal thereby contributing to the overall tourism viability of Inishowen and complementing the Signature Discovery Point at Malin Head.

John McCarter, Chairperson Fort Dunree Military Museum Co Ltd said “ At the heart of the proposition for Fort Dunree is the twin idea that this is a place of history and of outstanding natural beauty. However, that alone does not make it unique. What makes Fort Dunree a singular and compelling place to visit is what that history is, and the experience offered”.

Referring to the future plan and its potential Liam Ward, Director of Community Development & Planning Service said, “our team have been working towards a shared vision that can now be realised. Fort Dunree will deliver a captivating and memorable journey of discovery at a breath-taking coastal location.  It will be acclaimed and recognised for stories of fort life and adventures via its iconic glass walkways, high fort funicular ascends and imaginative viewing points.

I would like to acknowledge the commitment of all the stakeholders  on this project including  Fáilte Ireland, The Commissioner of Irish Lights, and Fort Dunree Military Museum Co. Ltd.

I also wish to commend the collective effort and commitment of Donegal County Council’s staff and the Design and Consultancy teams,  Keys & Monaghan Architects,  Cooney Architects, Ethna Murphy Consulting, Sammon Chartered Surveyors, Hosty Consulting Ltd and The Destination Developers who saw the potential in this iconic site”

Fort Dunree’s history is maritime, military, social and political. There are captivating stories to be told across each of these facets of its history. Moreover, Fort Dunree has unique stock. It has a distinctive mix of physical assets – the High Fort with its watchtowers providing a spectacular 360-degree panoramic view and perspective of this part of Inishowen, one of the best collections of coastal guns in the world, the military memorabilia and artefacts, the lighthouse. Under the proposed new development, the opportunities of the fort’s history and physical assets will be amplified, and themed stories created to compliment a powerful and imaginative experience.

Donegal County Council in partnership with all stakeholders including Fáilte Ireland, the  Commissioner of Irish Lights, Fort Dunree Military Museum Co Ltd   look forward to commencing the project, which will encourage more visitors, domestic and international, to explore and spend time in this uniquely beautiful part of Ireland.