Those behind the attraction, which it's hoped will bring 100,000 tourists to Limerick annually, were at the City Gallery for a special event where local traders were thanked for their support during the two-year construction period.
For the chief executive of the project Barry Hannon, the support of the local economic community has been vital.
“I know there has been disturbance on the main street to have building work going on. We want to thank these businesses for their support generally. If there’s been anything which has needed to be done it has been,” he said. “That’s from the hospitality industry, all the hotels and the wider business community – the butchers, the bakers and candlestick makers, if you like!”
By bringing the International Rugby Experience to the city he hopes it is a case that a rising tide lifts all boats.
“Ultimately, the goal for us isn’t to make X amount. We want to bring 100,000 people to the city that wouldn’t have been here and we want to give other businesses a lift. I think that’s only done by working together. We want to make Limerick a destination again,” said Mr Hannon.
Mike O’Mara of the Wine Buff said: “I think it will be very positive. It’s a huge opportunity to bring more people into Limerick, it will fill hotel rooms, and all the business that does bring, so it’s nothing but positive for the city.”
South’s Pub is no stranger to tourists, given its connection to Angela’s Ashes. Now its owner Richard Hickey is looking forward to a new influx of visitors to the city.
He said: “It’s going to have a huge knock-on effect not just for the city, but for Bunratty Castle, King John’s Castle and the Gaelic Grounds. For the hospitality trade it’s going to be enormous, because any time Munster are playing it’s huge for us.”
Donal O’Connell, O’Connell’s Menswear predicted that the opening of the experience in the city could see traders take a fresh look at their own outlets.
“The museum could act as a catalyst for change in the city. People may invest in their business, people may renovate their businesses and it will change the look of the city,” the buisnessman predicted.
It’s an exciting time for hoteliers too, as Patricia Roberts of No. 1 Pery Square will testify.
She said: “The whole rugby story with Limerick is so strong, so rooted in Limerick. There’s interest at all levels from grannies down to grandchildren. From a business perspective, it will be a great asset to us for people to combine with business trips.”
Una McCarthy, the curator of the Limerick City Gallery of Art said: “It will be another dimension for when people visit Limerick. It can only add to the flavour and colour of what people can do.”
Maedhbh Nolan, of the People’s Museum of Limerick concluded: “From our side, it’s another experience, another option of things to do in Limerick. Giving people more options means they will more than likely choose Limerick as a destination.”
Originally by Nick Rabbitts
12 Feb 2022