Carlow’s Focus on Tourism Future Brought to the Fore with Destination Development

Failte Ireland Group at Visual Building

Carlow has recently celebrated the successful conclusion of the Fáilte Ireland Destination Towns initiative, a ground-breaking project that will significantly enrich the visitor experience within the County Town. The project was generously supported by a €500,000 investment from Fáilte Ireland and aims to breathe new life into Carlow's Cultural Quarter and the wider town.

The initiative was celebrated in the presence of Cllr. Andrea Dalton, Cathaoirleach of Carlow County Council, and Mayor Cllr. Tom O’Neill, alongside stakeholders from Carlow Tourism, Carlow College, Visual, and County Carlow Chamber.

The project investment saw the delivery of three different elements:

Wayfinding/Heritage Trail Improvements: A comprehensive wayfinding scheme was developed, ensuring that visitors can effortlessly navigate the town. This included the generation of a cohesive story of Carlow Town, along with a signage declutter and installation of new gateway signs welcoming visitors to the town.

Visual Public Realm: The public space outside of Visual was adapted to create a linger space for tourists, particularly tour groups. The new space now features seating enough to accommodate coach-type tours, with the wayfinding improvements commencing at that point.

Public Art Project: As part of the project, Artist Remco de Fouw was commissioned by the Public Art Working Group to create "Sky Rivers (after Tyndall) Group," a focal piece on the trail which is erected in Carlow Town Park. The work is intended as a meeting point between ancient mark-making rituals on stones and the development of modern fiber-optic communications systems, using different wavelengths of light.

Expressing her satisfaction with the initiative, Cllr. Andrea Dalton, Cathaoirleach of Carlow County Council, said, “The vision was a simple one - how to make County Carlow an outstanding tourism, historical, and cultural destination for visitors and locals alike.” Andrea continued to say, “With the investment of half a million euros from Fáilte Ireland, and the foresight, knowledge, and expertise of stakeholders, this vision can become a reality for Carlow.”

Collectively, the elements of Destination Towns have amplified the visitor experience, highlighting Carlow’s rich cultural and historical heritage. Whether you are a local or a visitor, these enhancements offer greater satisfaction, encouraging longer stays in County Carlow.

Speaking at the launch, Justine Carey, Manager of Ireland’s Ancient East at Fáilte Ireland said:

We’re so pleased to mark the conclusion of the Destination Towns initiative in Carlow today. Fáilte Ireland is committed to and focused on the sustainable development of tourism across Ireland which is an important economic driver and source of employment. We look for every opportunity to expand the number of appealing destinations that offer compelling visitor experiences with the potential to drive visitors across the regions, which is why initiatives like our Destination Towns scheme are so important.  Fáilte Ireland’s work in partnership with Carlow County Council has made a significant impact on the appeal of Carlow which can be seen through the Visual public realm, the fantastic new art piece and wayfinding improvements in the town. These enhancements will encourage visitors to stay longer, spend more and immerse themselves in Carlow’s rich history and culture. 

Mayor of Carlow Municipal District Cllr. Tom O’Neill of Carlow Town said, “I’m delighted with this project as tourism isn't just about attracting visitors; it's about investing in the heart and soul of our town. By prioritizing tourism investment, as a council, we're not only enhancing our economy but also preserving our heritage, culture, and community identity.”

Commenting on the ambition for tourism in Carlow Town & County, Council Chief Executive Coilín O'Reilly said, “Carlow is a hidden gem when it comes to the visitor experience, and as a council, we fundamentally believe that by investing in marketing and development, festivals and events, arts and culture, tourism assets, and public spaces, we will enhance the visitor experience for all and attract more visitors not just to our County Town but also to the wider county.” Coilín concluded by saying, “as a Council the focus of our tourism supports and investment is about unlocking economic potential as we understand every tourism euro spent isn't just a transaction; it's an investment in local businesses, job creation, and community development. From hotels to restaurants, attractions to transportation, tourism stimulates growth across diverse sectors, powering our economy and providing livelihoods for countless individuals.”

Irelands Ancient East Group Photo