Funding has been announced for a new "world-class" visitor attraction in Kilkenny city, which backers say will attract more than 100,000 people per year within a decade.

The Medieval Kilkenny Experience will include the opening-up of the Tholsel on the city's High Street, as well as enhancing the existing Medieval Mile Museum and its associated churchyard at St Mary's.

Kilkenny County Council has been granted €3.2m from Fáilte Ireland under the Large Capital Grants Scheme for tourism projects to develop this medieval "experience" and increase visitor spend in the area.

According to Fáilte Ireland, the scheme will "unify" the complex at St Mary's and use "fun, humour and 'horrible history'-style stories to appeal to a wider variety of visitors".

Spring 2023 has been earmarked as an opening time for the attractions.

Colette Byrne, CEO of Kilkenny CoCo; Cllr Andrew McGuinness, Mayor of Kilkenny; Cllr Fidelis Doherty, Cathaoirleach Kilkenny CoCo; Ciaran Conroy, Kilkenny Civic Trust; Rory McCarthy, Fáilte Ireland

"Developing must-visit attractions for domestic and international visitors is a key part of our recovery, post-Covid," said Rory McCarthy, Fáilte Ireland's product development manager.

"The Medieval Kilkenny Experience will be a flagship attraction that will bolster and enhance Kilkenny's existing tourist offering, giving visitors a new and exciting insight into the history of the city and encouraging them to spend longer in the area."

Cathaoirelach of Kilkenny County Council Fidelis Doherty said heritage and cultural assets like the Tholsel (town hall) "give us the opportunity to preserve our traditions for future generations" and that this investment will deliver "a top-class family attraction for both our domestic and international visitors".

The Chief Executive of Kilkenny Civic Trust Ciaran Conroy said the Medieval Kilkenny Experience will "add yet another world-class visitor experience to Kilkenny's rich tourism and heritage offering".

The multi-level Tholsel will use interpretive displays and exhibits to bring the story of medieval Kilkenny to life, according to Fáilte Ireland, from the darker side of history in the basement right up to the original clock tower on the upper levels.

The outdoor areas surrounding St Mary's Church will be landscaped and an outdoor play space and covered seating for a coffee kiosk will also be introduced within the churchyard.

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