Glendalough Tourism Plan

A plan to develop the tourism potential of the Glendalough and Wicklow Mountains region, the new “Glendalough and Wicklow Mountains National Park Visitor Experience and Management Masterplan” has been launched by Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works Patrick O'Donovan.

The document is a seven-to-ten-year plan designed to provide a phased roadmap to protect and enhance the setting of Glendalough and the Wicklow Mountains National Park and to establish key sustainability objectives against which future projects will be assessed and realised.

Developed collaboratively in partnership with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, including its National Monuments and National Parks and Wildlife Services, Coillte, OPW, Wicklow County Council and representatives from the local community, the Masterplan seeks to enhance the natural, built and cultural heritage; disperse the benefits and impacts of tourism; and improve the overall visitor experience. With over a million visitors to the region per annum, the partnership collectively recognised the need to provide a greater regional and seasonal spread of visitors and to improve the visitor experience.

This new partnership for Glendalough is an evolution from a high-level steering group which was established to oversee the development of the Masterplan. The projects outlined in the Masterplan will be implemented collaboratively through the various state bodies, Wicklow County Council and the local community.

Director of Product Development at Fáilte Ireland, Orla Carroll said:

“The Masterplan provides a clear roadmap for future tourism investment within Glendalough and Wicklow Mountains that will transform the region to deliver a better spread of tourism and visitor activity. Glendalough is already a well-established tourist hub and major cultural attraction in the National Park and has the potential to build its appeal as a site of national and international significance due to its monastic city and natural heritage.

“It is vitally important that this beautiful site is preserved for future generations, and a key focus of this Masterplan was to get the right balance in improving the visitor flow, parking facilities and accessible trails to enhance the overall experience of Glendalough, and balancing the conservation and heritage of this amazing place for visitors and locals alike. Through our partnership with OPW, the NPWS, NMS, Coillte and Wicklow County Council, Failte Ireland is committed to the sustainable development of Glendalough and Wicklow Mountains region, which will continue to serve as an important economic driver and source of employment for County Wicklow.”

The VEMMP sets out a strategy for achieving the over-arching objective for Glendalough and the Wicklow Mountains National Park, which is to create a sustainable balance between enhancing the area as a visitor destination based on outdoor recreation, trail networks and direct experiences with nature, and conserving its natural, built and cultural heritage. It also proposes a co-ordinated approach to visitor orientation and signage, improvements to car parks and facilities, and designation of sustainable “discovery walks” to accommodate large numbers of visitors who wish to explore the outdoor environment. The Plan sets out an iterative process which will continually adapt to the needs of all users of the National Park and will balance the core conservation and heritage values with visitor demand and sustainability.

It is also a key aspiration of the Masterplan to ensure that visitors are spread geographically throughout the wider Wicklow region and throughout the year to minimise peaks. This will help protect ecological and heritage sensitive areas and improve the visitor experience, bringing significant benefits to the local economy and community.