It just might be the answer to all the prayers of the heads of tourism in Galway, Tipperary and Clare.
he old creamery is set to become the backbone of an ambitious plan to develop Lough Derg as Ireland’s response to Lake Como in Italy.
The strategy aims to ensure that picturesque Lough Derg – which borders the three counties and has historical ties to the famous High King of Ireland Brian BorÃº – is sensitively developed as a ‘slow tourism’ destination with an emphasis on environmentally friendly and value-added tourism that offers maximum benefits for local communities.
Tipperary County Council will rule next month on the development of the Lough Derg Visitor Center in Birdhill, which aims to transform a former creamery into a major tourist center.
It is hoped that the former dairy complex will welcome up to 20,000 tourists to the area, with Lough Derg as the centerpiece.
Funders say it will draw visitors to the historic district and serve as a showcase for the best of northern Munster arts, crafts and products.
The complex will include a tourist information center, retail space, cafe, children’s play area and parking.
Once operational, up to eight people would be employed full time and part time.
The promoters hope that in the long term, the center could be expanded to include a “Lough Derg experience” that would provide visitors with a cinematic experience of the lake and panoramic glimpses of it and major local sights.
One of the main goals is to extend the existing tourist season with a longer supply that will benefit the local economy through income, investment and jobs.
Lake Como in Italy has become renowned for its tourism – with trade developed to improve the local environment, economy, and community, and has carefully tried to avoid over-commercialization.
The councils of Tipperary, Limerick and Clare along with other agencies including FÃ¡ilte Ireland, Inland Fisheries, Waterways Ireland, Coillte, EU Leader groups and local community development groups all support this plan.
The importance of outdoor amenities – as evidenced by the Covid-19 pandemic – has been noted.
Disability Minister Anne Rabbitte – who is a Galway-based politician – told Tipp FM that the strategy represents an exciting opportunity for the entire Lough Derg region.