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New initiative seeks to keep culture alive in Mhúscraí

Friday, 3rd July, 2020 12:24pm

Cork’s beautiful Gaeltacht is hoping to see a rise in tourist numbers over the next few years due to an exciting new initiative.

A CIT research group has been working with partners including local businesses in Mhúscraí, Failte Ireland, Cork County Council and other groups to develop a micro cluster of unique and linked experiences for visitors seeking cultural tourism.

It’s all part of the Interreg project Atlantic CultureScape which tries to develop what calls “intangible cultural heritage experiences across the Atlantic area” and has a key focus in Cork on Gaeltacht Mhúscraí.

Local partners from the Mhúscraí Gaeltacht including Comharchumann Forbartha Mhúscraí Teoranta, Údarás na Gaeltachta and representatives of local businesses have been working with Dr Cliodhna Sargent of Cork Institute of Technology’s V-LINC Research Group.

Dr Sargent explains that “the Múscraí project aims to stimulate economic growth by providing visitors with an authentic tourism experience based on the intangible cultural heritage of the area. The dual benefits being the ability to keep the culture of a region alive whilst providing a culturally based tourism experience”.

Through the project a package of activities would be created, to give tourists an opportunity to experience “everyday life in the Gaeltacht Mhúscraí, not the leprechauns and shamrocks, but the uniquely authentic side”, said Dr Sargent. “What we do day to day is part of our heritage, culture, history, and you can visit the Gaeltacht Mhúscraí to experience the whole thing.”

“The objective is to enable the tourist to visit Mhúscraí and be fully immersed in the culture,” she added. “They can take an Irish language class, do a traditional Irish dancing class; go and watch a game of football played locally, taste local food, or drink beer made there. They can see the beautiful landscape and have a full experience within a few days.”

The hope is that visitors to Múscraí would be able to pay an all-inclusive fee covering accommodation, food, and activities, and that these experiences would be marketed online through the Atlantic Culture Scape website to attract foreign visitors from Portugal, Spain and the UK.

“Currently our focus is on attracting staycations and ensuring businesses open back up their doors. The region is so unique and has great potential, it really is a must see,” she said of the area.
“There is a lot going on already but what we have to do now is to come together as a group to work to attract, cajole and bring tourists to the region. We are setting up an online presence so that people can go to a one stop website and access all the details required to visit: price, times, dates, for groups or individual bookings.

“It is in this area that collaboration is key and the support of Caroline Ní Nualláin, Comharchumann Forbartha Mhúscraí Teoranta and Anne Marie Nic Gearailt, Údarás na Gaeltachta have been hugely supportive in applying for funding for a new website, a tourism officer and supporting bilingual posting on social media @experiencegaeltachtmhúscraí to draw tourists to the region in what has been a particularly hard time for the sector in Mhúscraí and Ireland in the face of Covid-19,” she added.

The three-year Atlantic Culture Scape project brings together seven partners, with CIT being joined by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council in Northern Ireland; the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority in Wales; the University of Vigo, Agencia Andaluza de Instituciones Culturales and Direccion General De Turismo Del Gobierno Regional De Cantabria in Spain; and Municipio de Rio Maior in Portugal.

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