Festive Switch-on Boosts Kilkenny

The big switch-on of the Christmas tree at Kilkenny Castle has officially launched the Christmas Programme of Events for 2011.

It includes a broad ranging number of new tourism initiatives for the Castle and the Kilkenny area in general.

Brian Hayes, Minister of State with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW) and Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Phil Hogan were on hand for Monday's event.

Speaking at the launch Minister Hayes said: "Kilkenny Castle plays a vital role in the socio-economic fabric of this region and represents an iconic image for Kilkenny.

"Open all-year-round the Castle attracts almost 200,000 visitors annually, with an increase of some 5% recorded this year to-date over the same period in 2010.

"As well as the direct full-time and seasonal employment supported by OPW, many down-stream tourism-related businesses derive huge benefit from the Castle’s operations and generate further significant employment."

The Minister spoke of the exciting Christmas Programme scheduled by the staff at Kilkenny Castle: "This year the Castle has a giant illuminated Christmas tree in the courtyard, Minister Hogan and myself have just turned on the lights.

"We also have festive choral singers from local schools and societies, children's’ crafts’ workshops and gorgeous Christmas-themed decoration throughout the Castle’s period rooms.

"I’m also reliably informed (from the North Pole) that a large man in a red suit will make a special appearance here at Kilkenny Castle on the 18th December," he enthused.

Minister Hayes went on to outline some of the new tourism initiatives being introduced at Kilkenny Castle.

"We are launching a new iPhone 'app' for the Castle, in addition to new self-guiding leaflets, a new Braille visitor leaflet and tactile visitor route for visually impaired visitors, a new range of interpretation panels to enhance the visitor experience and the availability of a hand-held audio presentation of the Castle’s tour highlights," he said.

The Minister concluded: "Kilkenny Castle and Park are among the finest of the ‘jewels-in-the-crown’ of OPW’s heritage sites in Ireland. While resources remain a challenge, we are committed to providing a top-class heritage attraction, which will be a constant source of pride to the people of Kilkenny and a focus for the promotion of tourism.

"The measures I have announced to-day, and further initiatives in the year ahead, will provide a significant boost to the local and regional economy."


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