KILKENNY has received a huge boost with news that a major attraction is to be built in the heart of the city.
Former owners, Diageo are to place a state-of-the-art visitor centre at St Francis Abbey Brewery on Parliament Street. Plans are at an advanced stage for the project which will involve a capital investment of E3 million by Diageo and is completely separate from any other initiatves planned for the site which measures 25 acres and was recently purchased by Kilkenny’s local authorities for E2 million.
Recently, Environment Minister, Phil Hogan met with executives from Diageo, the world’s leading drinks company, to discuss the blueprint for the site and it is understood he was very impressed with the outline.
In recent days executives visited a number of locations in Denmark to evaluate their merit and to see if facets of them could be incorporated into the design for the Kilkenny city centre.
Another positive element of the story is that there is a direct involvement with the founding family of the brewery. Mr Paul Smithwicks is to be on the committee leading the charge on the initiative and his input will be crucial in preserving as much of the site as possible and keeping the theme as true to the original belonging to his ancestors as possible.
The importance of such a facility cannot not be overstated. It will be modelled on The Guinness Store House in Dublin which is the country’s most popular attraction with well over one million visitors every year.
The Store House provides an unforgettable journey deep into the heart of the world famous Guinness brand and company. The seven floors bring to life the rich heritage of Guinness telling the story from its origins at St. James’s Gate in Dublin to its growth as a global brand, known all around the world.
A similar, albeit slightly smaller centre in Kilkenny city, would bring tens of thousands of visitors to the centre and would be open all year around. It will provide the local economy with a huge fillip and provide much needed jobs.
Diageo declined to comment on the story but said an announcement would be made shortly on the visitor centre.