CORK County Council in conjunction with Fáilte Ireland is investing up to €234,000 into a new visitor experience at St Mary's Collegiate Church in Youghal town centre.
County Hall is currently tendering for an experienced interpretative consultant to collaboratively plan, design, manufacture and deliver the Voices of St Mary’s visitor experience.
As part of the ambitious new plans, the redesigned establishment will contain a visitor reception area within the body of the church.
The existing guided tour will be enhanced to include interpretation media, audio guides and new self-guiding leaflets.
Outlining the project the County Council has stated: "With the support of Fáilte Ireland, the new visitor experience for this active place of worship will be sensitively designed to deliver a character-driven storyline.
"The storyline will be based on the people of the place and how its origin, development, history and relevance as a major community focal point from medieval times to today, can be viewed through their eyes, their stories and their experiences."
The project is part of an ongoing scheme to develop the Youghal town and environs as well as Fáilte Ireland’s Ireland’s Ancient East tourism campaign.
Speaking about the project, the Council said: "This sacred place is a hidden historical gem that is little known, underutilised and crying out to tell its story to the visitor in an appropriate and dignified way."
When completed the new visitor experience is expected to significantly boost visitor numbers at St Mary’s which will aid the overall economic vitality of the town.
Projected visitor numbers are expected to be upwards of 50,000 in year five of the new experience.
Entry to St Mary's is currently free, with visitors only charged for specific events such as concerts and exhibitions.
However, it is intended that there will be a charge for the new audio tour to be developed as part of this contract.
The new experience is expected to be delivered by August 31, 2020.
St.Mary's Collegiate Church is the oldest church in continuous use since its foundation in Ireland.
The church has a rich historical heritage with famous figures such as Sir Walter Raleigh and Oliver Cromwell known to have worshipped there.
Richard Boyle first Earl of Cork is also buried at the location.
Interested contractors have until December 31 to submit their application to County Hall.