Almost €5 million in funding for West Cavan Geopark attractions

Almost €5 million in funding for West Cavan Geopark attractions

Cavan County Council has secured €4.8 million in funding for a new Discovery Centre at the Shannon Pot, the source of Ireland’s great river, alongside enhancements including a stunning new elevated walk for Cavan Burren Park under Fáilte Ireland’s Platforms for Growth capital investment programme.

Published on: 10 Jun 2021

The funding was announced this morning by Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport, and Media, Catherine Martin TD at Cavan Burren Park, where four major tourism projects nationwide received funding.

Highlights of the new visitor experiences, located in the heart of the UNESCO-designated Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark, include Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) experiences which bring the rich mythology of the Shannon to life, interpretive trails, and a trio of “Instagram-friendly” visual experiences, comprising the Discovery Centre’s grass rooftop viewing platform, the first bridge over the Shannon at its source, and a spectacular, 450-metre-long elevated walkway at Cavan Burren Park.

These signature experiences in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, will be physically linked to many other sites in the Geopark by an upgraded Cavan Way walking trail. The project will also link with the proposed Beara-Breifne Way, connecting Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands with the Wild Atlantic Way.

Announcing the funding, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport, and Media, Catherine Martin TD said “Today’s significant funding announcement will ensure world-class visitor attractions are created that will attract domestic and international tourists to the four locations which will not just benefit the counties where they’re located but will motivate people to stay longer and explore more widely across the region.”

Fáilte Ireland CEO, Paul Kelly added, “The standard of applications received for this Scheme was incredibly high and we are encouraged by the level of innovation and creativity demonstrated. The four awarded projects are truly best-in-class. They are diverse, engaging and unique and will help visitors connect with Ireland and bring the country’s vibrant culture, heritage and people to life.”

Cathaoirleach of Cavan County Council, Cllr Sarah O’Reilly has hailed the announcement as “a huge boost for tourism in County Cavan”.

“The Shannon is the longest river in Ireland and is linked to so much of our heritage and mythology. As the source of this great river, it’s wonderful to see the Shannon Pot get the recognition it deserves in the form of this new visitor experience. Alongside the fabulous new Cavan Burren Park elevated walkway, this project will create an unmissable destination in the heart of our Geopark,” said Cllr O’Reilly.

The total cost of this exciting and bold tourism project will be €6.4 million, with the €4.8 million in capital investment from Fáilte Ireland supplemented by a €1.6 million investment by Cavan County Council.

Chief Executive of Cavan County Council Tommy Ryan said this major investment in West Cavan by Fáilte Ireland and Cavan County Council would continue to pay dividends for many years to come.

“This flagship new attraction at the Shannon Pot and the enhancement of our stunning Cavan Burren Park will form the jewel in the crown of Cavan’s network of Geopark heritage attractions,” said Mr Ryan. “This funding from Fáilte Ireland, with significant additional investment by Cavan County Council, will act as a catalyst for increased tourist footfall in the county, bringing a much-needed boost to the local hospitality industry and ancillary businesses in the region.”

Director of Services for Planning, Community and Economic Development Mr Brendan Jennings, paid tribute to all the Council staff and external stakeholders who played a crucial role in advancing this funding application.

“This is a hugely ambitious project and Fáilte Ireland’s award of large-scale capital funding of this magnitude is testament not only to the great potential of the region but to the skill, vision, and commitment of our project team. On what is a significant day for West Cavan, I want to acknowledge the contribution of Geopark Manager Gráinne O’Connor, Business and Tourism Development Officer Tara Smith and all of the Geopark staff, as well as Project Engineer Derry Scanlan, John Donohoe, Head of Community Development & Tourism and Joanne Hayes, Tourism Officer. Together with Frank Cooney and Eamonn Monaghan of CAKM Architects, and Enda Candon, this multi-disciplinary team went to extraordinary lengths to prepare an extremely compelling and competitive application,” said Mr Jennings.

Geopark Manager Gráinne O’Connor said, “This UNESCO Geopark, which spans West Cavan and County Fermanagh, was the world’s first cross-border Geopark, and together with our partners in Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, we are committed to preserving and celebrating the unique heritage, geology, archaeology and culture of this historic landscape, while also creating a world-class sustainable tourism product that will boost the local economy for generations to come”.

“This funding will help transform what is already a hugely popular tourist destination into a world-class attraction and a signature site in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands,” added Ms O’Connor.

Chair of Cavan County Council and Fermanagh Omagh District Council’s Geopark Committee, Councillor John Paul Feeley said “As Chair of the Geopark Committee, Chair of Cavan County Council’s Economic Development Strategic Policy Committee, and a native of Blacklion, I am particularly pleased to see the Government and Cavan County Council acknowledge the potential of this historic and picturesque landscape”.

From left, John Donohoe, Head of Tourism and Community Development, Cavan County Council; Gráinne O'Connor, Geopark Manager; Derry Scanlan, Project Engineer; Catherine Martin TD, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media; Tommy Ryan, Chief Executive, Cavan County Council; Brendan Jennings, Director of Services, Cavan County Council; Paddy Matthews, Head of Ireland's Hidden Heartlands, Fáilte Ireland. PHOTO: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

From left, Orla Carroll, Director of Product Development, Fáilte Ireland; Catherine Martin TD, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media; Tommy Ryan, Chief Executive, Cavan County Council. PHOTO: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland


From left: Cllr Brendan Fay, Chair Cavan-Belturbet Municipal District; Catherine Martin TD, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media; Brendan Smith TD; Cathaoirleach of Cavan County Council, Cllr Sarah O'Reilly; Cllr Madeleine Argue; Cllr Peter McVitty; Cllr John Paul Feeley. PHOTO: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland. ;

Notes for Editors

Shannon Pot Discovery Centre
The new Shannon Pot Discovery Centre will consist of a three-part indoor building totalling 358 sq. meters. An additional covered outdoor space of 140 sq. meters and trails will be designed to evoke a meandering river.

The visitor centre will be nestled amongst the landscape with viewing balconies on its grass rooftop. The diverse and multi-layered story of the River Shannon will be presented in a stimulating way, encouraging visitor participation using cutting edge technology, multi-sensory, multilingual presentations with clever use of lighting and sound to communicate authentic stories.

Using a range of multimedia, augmented reality, virtual reality, and audio-visual technology, the Discovery Centre will bring to life the story of the Shannon from its myths and place in Irish legends and folklore to its natural and industrial heritage. It will highlight its contribution to Ireland’s economy and society in terms of commerce, transport, energy production, agriculture, and leisure.

Game-based activities will fascinate a younger audience, along with digital re-enactments of real-life events for history and culture lovers. The interpretative trail from the Discovery Centre to the Shannon Pot will tell the story of the river through interactive boards that retrace its journey from source to sea at Limerick.  The final stunning vista will be an elevated viewing platform over the Shannon Pot. The walkway allows for a bridge crossing on site, affording visitors the experience of crossing the first bridge over the River Shannon, the longest river in Ireland or the United Kingdom.


Cavan Burren Park

Located under the shadow of Cuilcagh Mountain, Cavan Burren Park is widely recognised as one of the finest prehistoric relict landscapes in Ireland – in a sense this place has stood still in time. It already attracts 24,000 visitors annually.

This project will enhance the existing experience. Visitors will be able to view and experience 5,000 years of history. With its unique and breath-taking wealth of natural and manmade features set in an exceptional landscape, Cavan Burren Park has UNESCO Geopark designation.

A new story trail will take visitors on a unique journey back through millennia on an elevated walkway, 450 meters long and 15 metres above ground at its highest point, creating a timeline from early stone age to modern times, showing how people have worked and lived here since the Ice Age.

The interpretation will reveal the history and culture of the landscape in an accessible and authentic way, showing its geology and how our ancestors interacted with and made their mark on the landscape. Linking with existing and new trails across the Park, visitors can further explore the natural environment, enjoy the views, relax, picnics, and learn through the displays and interpretation in the visitor centre. The final vista from the elevated viewing platform will give stunning views across Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands.

As part of this experiential journey, visitors will be guided to the accessible grass rooftop of the Discovery Centre where they are rewarded with spectacularly framed views of Cuilcagh Mountain inspiring visitors to capture this visual splendour.


Equally Insta-worthy is the moment visitors cross the first bridge of the River Shannon at its source, an item worthy of any Bucket List!


Continuing the visitor journey to Cavan Burren Park, visitors can complete the trilogy of visual experiences by capturing the panoramic vistas from an impressive 15 metre raised viewing platform with breath-taking views over five surrounding counties.