The Office of Public Works (OPW) has been slammed for not providing tour guides at An Grianan despite the large numbers visiting the ancient Inishowen site.
According OPW figures Glebe House, Donegal Castle and Newmills all had tour guides throughout the last year, with around 86,000 people combined visiting the three sites.
In comparison, An Grianan is in the top 20 most visited free sites in the country and was visited by 104,398 people during the same period - yet no tour guides were employed at any time of the year.
Commenting on the figures, Cllr Jack Murray said: “I find it incredible that An Grianan continues to be disregarded in this way. I have always held the view that it can be the premier tourist attraction in the northwest of Ireland if the right attention was given to it.
“I fully support the promotion of the other three sites in the county and it is great to see. I can see no reason however why so many tour guides would be employed elsewhere in Donegal but none at all at Grianan.
“Visitor numbers already show that it is punching well above its weight despite very little support from state agencies. Indeed the many hugely successful events which have taken place at the site have been led by the local community.
“These visitor numbers also don’t take account of those who have come but had to leave again as they found the gate locked. The opening hours clearly need to be reviewed as well. If this was done, the numbers would increase even further.
“We have a state of the art visitor centre in An Grianan Hotel and I commend the owners for taking on this initiative but more needs to be done from government agencies.
“The OPW should employ information guides at the site in order to improve the visitor
experience for the huge crowds up there throughout the year. There is no shortage of people in Inishowen with qualifications and a passion for teaching the history of the fort. I’m sure they would jump at the opportunity to tell the fascinating stories of An Grianan.”
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