WINTER 2016-2017 / VOL. 16 ISSUE 1
News of Ireland 
and of Irish Interest 
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Tierney Irish Music Fund Established

The Irish Cultural and Heritage Center of Wisconsin (ICHC) has established the Tierney Irish Music Fund to support bringing high-caliber Irish and Celtic music year round to the ICHC Hallamór Concert Series. 

The fund is named for Dick Tierney, founding member of the Irish Cultural and Heritage Center, who died in 2014. Tierney was inspired to create the Hallamór Concert Series when the ICHC found a permanent home at the historic Grand Avenue Congregational Church on West Wisconsin Avenue in 1996. 

The series showcases Irish and Celtic musicians of national and world renown, with performances held in the 400-plus seat Hallamór (or Grand Hall). In his years as entertainment coordinator, Tierney booked dozens of performers such as Altan, Brother, Cherish the Ladies, Liz Carroll and John Doyle, Solas and Tommy Makem. The new Tierney Irish Music Fund will be used exclusively for booking talent for the Hallamór Concert Series. 

For more information, check www.ichc.net to view a schedule of entertainers for the upcoming concert series and make an online donations to the fund. They can also be mailed to the ICHC. For a form, see Inside ICHC (notice@ichc.net).




Irish Cultural and Heritage Center Announces Spring Concerts

The Irish Cultural and Heritage Center, 2133 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, has announced its spring Hallamór Concert Series. The start time for each concert is 7:30 p.m. 
 
The season opens with Makem and Clancy on Saturday, Feb. 18. It is no surprise that Rory Makem and Dónal Clancy are each acclaimed Irish singers and musicians as well as masterful storytellers with a witty and charming stage presence. They learned from the best: their respective fathers Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy, who along with the Clancy Brothers, were the first group to bring Irish folk song to a worldwide audience. 
Performing on Friday, April 21 is Trian composed of three of Irish music’s most acclaimed and award-winning musicians, Liz Carroll, Billy McComiskey and Dáithí Sproule. Carroll’s expressive fiddling and massive original repertoire have made her a worldwide legend. McComiskey is credited with raising the profile and stature of the button accordion. Sproule is a sought after guitarist who is also a member of the celebrated band Altan. 

Tickets for both concerts are $21 in advance and $25 on concert day. Student tickets are $10 with ID. For tickets and more information, go to www.ichc.net or call (414) 345-8800. 




Canadian Group to Perform at ICHC

The Milwaukee French Immersion Foundation, which supports the MPS Milwaukee French Immersion School, is sponsoring a concert by Ten Strings And A Goat Skin, 7 p.m., Feb. 3 at the Milwaukee Irish Cultural and Heritage Center (ICHC), 2133 W.Wisconsin Ave. The band has played at Irish Fest in 2015 and 2016,  blending Celtic, traditional and Acadian  musical styles.  Also on Feb. 3, the group will visit the Immersion School, interacting with the students in French and performing a short concert.  For the evening show at the ICHS, the band is donating its ticket sales to the Foundation. 

For information: www.ichc.net; https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ten-strings-and-a-goat-skin-tickets-30189675131
or call the school at (414) 874-8400.


Tourism:

Titanic Belfast Named World's Leading Tourist Attraction

The Titanic Belfast museum was named ‘World’s Leading Tourist Attraction’ at the prestigious World Travel Awards in the Maldives on Dec. 6, 2016.

With more than on million votes cast from over 216 countries in the awards, known as the ‘Tourism Oscars,’ Titanic Belfast was awarded the title after beating off stiff competition from eight global finalists - including Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, the Las Vegas Strip, USA, Machu Picchu, Peru and Guinness Storehouse, Ireland. It is the first time an attraction from Ireland, North or South, has won the prestigious accolade.

The museum’s chief executive Tim Husbands said; "Over the past few years, we have continued to go from strength to strength but to be voted the World’s Leading Tourist Attraction by both the industry and the public for excellence and for our original product, is really the jewel in our crown."

Thanking his staff, Husbands said everyone was delighted "that this award firmly shines a spotlight not only on Titanic Belfast but Belfast and Northern Ireland, and celebrates our authentic insight and connection to RMS Titanic. The Titanic story captures hearts and minds throughout the world and at Titanic Belfast, this is no exception."

Husbands went on to say that the interpretation of the story and ability to engage with visitors on many different levels has been fundamental in winning this award. He hopes it will help attract more tourists to Northern Ireland to discover the Titanic story. A huge thank you to our staff and all our supporters that voted, locally and across the world, to help us reach this iconic goal of being the World’s Leading Tourist Attraction."

The museum's #VoteTitanicBelfast campaign saw the whole of Northern Ireland get behind Titanic Belfast in the bid to become ‘King of the World’, with the public, industry partners, well-known personalities, politicians, sports stars and businesses providing their support. Previous winners including the Taj Mahal, Las Vegas Strip and the Pyramids of Egypt.

First Minister Arlene Foster agreed, saying, "In just four short years, Titanic Belfast has become an iconic tourist ‘must see’, attracting over three million visitors from all over the world. We always knew that in Titanic Belfast, we were home to a world class attraction that would become a global brand. While it’s no surprise to me it has been recognized in this way. It is a wonderful achievement to win the ‘world’s best’ accolade. 




Pilot Plan to Develop Touring Routes off Wild Atlantic Way

Two new touring routes, branching off the Wild Atlantic Way, were unveiled Dec. 11, 2016, by Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Patrick O’Donovan as part of a new pilot plan from Fáilte Ireland to encourage visitors to discover the variety of inland visitor experiences as they travel along the Wild Atlantic Way. The Shannon Estuary Drive and the Burren Drive are the first in a series of drives to be developed adjacent to the Wild Atlantic Way with additional routes planned for later next year. 

The launch took place in Askeaton, Co. Limerick. Welcoming the initiative to broaden visitor activity in the west, Minister of State for Tourism and Sport and Limerick County T.D. Patrick O’Donovan said:

"As the Wild Atlantic Way continues to grow three years since its launch, we can now start to develop additional experiences for visitors to enjoy and, vitally, through initiatives like this we can start to plan for a more even spread of visitors across the West of Ireland."

These new touring routes will incorporate existing sites in the wider geography adjacent to the Wild Atlantic Way which have significant tourist potential and the ability to support increased dwell time in the wider area.

Fáilte Ireland’s Director of Strategic Development, Orla Carroll emphaized, that his organization was working in close partnership with both Clare and Limerick local authorities. He indicated they will be developing appropriate navigation aids and viewing points which will involve some capital investment for both areas. While the Wild Atlantic Way continues to thrive in terms of visitor numbers and awareness, it needs to continue developing and use its growing appeal to spread tourism activity into as many parts as possible. 

Burren Drive
The Burren Drive is located in an established tourist area that is starting to be challenged with congestion during the peak season, most notably on the stretch from Liscannor to Doolin. The development and promotion of the proposed Burren Drive will present a significant opportunity to alleviate and mitigate against congestion, support best practice in visitor management and present additional tourism experiences for visitors.

The Shannon Estuary Drive
The Shannon Estuary Drive, provides a significant opportunity for Limerick and Ennis, as gateway towns to the Wild Atlantic Way, and will open up the region’s inland hinterland to visitors as well as support the strong local accommodation base and variety of visitor attractions and services along the proposed route.

The successful development of both drives will be driven by collaboration between Fáilte Ireland, the local authorities, local development companies, tourism interests and communities along the drives and in the immediate hinterland. Once the drives are ready for the visitor, Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland will incorporate them in their respective marketing activities domestically and internationally.




Trees, Tourism Make Perfect Match

In early December, Fáilte Ireland announced a capital funding package of €550,000 for Coillte as part of a strategic partnership to boost the tourist experience at a number of the state-owned forestry company’s sites and unleash their significant untapped potential for visitors.

This team up with Coillte is the latest in a series of partnerships that Fáilte Ireland is developing with key state agencies and bodies which own and manage attractions and sites that are considered to be of vital importance to tourism. As part of this strategy, Fáilte Ireland is giving capital funding to projects of tourism value as well as providing its considerable expertise in tourism development and marketing.

Today, Fáilte Ireland and Coillte launched their partnership with the announcement of the €550,000 funding package for the development of project feasibility and design for six projects:

• Avondale Forest Park Experience, Co. Wicklow
• Curraghchase Forest Park, Co. Limerick
• Ards Forest Park, Co. Donegal
• Wild Nephin and Ballycroy, Co. Mayo
• Coolaney Mountain Bike Centre, Co. Sligo
• Facilities/services for motorhomes at sites along the Wild Atlantic Way

Significant further funding to progress these projects will be announced once the projects have been designed and costed.

Announcing the funding, the Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Patrick O’Donovan TD said:

"I am delighted to see such joined-up working between two state agencies where the strengths and assets of each are being combined to really provide us with an enhanced visitor experience. In an unpredictable trading environment, there can be no room for complacency in tourism and we have to continually go out there and battle with competing destinations to win more visitors to our shores. Partnerships like this - which will ultimately provide us with more compelling experiences on the ground – help provide the cutting edge we need to compete."

Speaking today, Fáilte Ireland’s Director of Strategic Development Orla Carroll emphasised:

"We know from our own research that more and more visitors want to experience the Irish landscape up-close and personal. The wild and rugged environment of the Wild Atlantic Way and the lush, green and fertile landscapes of Ireland’s Ancient East are very strong magnets for visitors when choosing a holiday destination. These Coillte properties provide our visitors with an opportunity to really get back to nature and get in touch with Ireland. With the great potential that these sites have, this partnership will be a win-win for both agencies and provide tourism benefits for all the communities involved."

Gerard Murphy Managing Director of Coillte Forest said:

"Coillte is Ireland’s leading provider of outdoor recreational activities, with over 2,000km of waymarked trails, 180 recreation sites and 12 forest parks on our estate attracting 18 million visits annually.

Coillte’s forests, tracks and trails are ideal for lovers of the great outdoors, nature enthusiasts and those who want to explore Ireland’s rich cultural heritage, which is woven into the fabric of the forests We believe we have the facilities and the resources to attract even more visitors and we are delighted that we have an opportunity to develop this partnership with Fáilte Ireland and to continue to grow our long-term vision of making a key contribution to tourism and local economies."

The development of strategic partnerships with state agencies and bodies in order to maximize the tourism potential of State lands and assets, is one of the deliverables set out in Fáilte Ireland’s Tourism Investment Strategy 2016-2022. Similar partnerships are also in place with a number of other State agencies and bodies, including the Office of Public Works and the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
 



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