Shannon Heritage records 11% increase in 2014 visitor numbers as tourism rebound continues

Shannon Heritage, Ireland’s largest operator of tourist attractions and part of the newly established Shannon Group plc, has today announced an 11% increase in visitor numbers in 2014.

Last year was the company’s most successful in terms of visitor numbers since the 2007, with the biggest success within the company’s operations at King John’s Castle, where, in its first full operating season following a €6million revamp, the 13th century castle and interpretive exhibition doubled its numbers to 85,000.

Overall, Shannon Heritage’s seven day time and four evening attractions drew 637,000 visitors in 2014, with day visitor attractions up over 13%.  Market research showed that there were particular gains from US, UK and European markets.

The results show a correlation with Shannon Heritage’s sister company and gateway to the West of Ireland, Shannon Airport, where recently announced passenger numbers for 2014 showed a 17% increase on 2013, further reinforcing the tourism rebound taking effect across Ireland.

Reflecting on the results Shannon Heritage CEO John Ruddle said that they reaffirm that the sector is most definitely in growth mode again.  “2014 has been the best tourism year since 2007 for the Shannon Heritage attractions. Overall we have had a very positive year with over 637,000 visitors to our seven visitor attractions and four evening entertainment venues, which is 11% better than in 2013,” he said.

“The increase in access and number of additional visitors coming through Shannon Airport has undoubtedly been a major factor in our gains. Our day visitor attractions are up over 13% with particular gains from US, UK and European markets.

“The recession years were very difficult for all tourism operators but now the tourism picture is very positive. These results show a solid growth curve and, as we undertake our 2015 marketing programmes, we are confident that this year is shaping up to be another year of positive growth. We have already got off to a great start, winning two coveted CIE Tours International Awards of Excellence for two of our visitor attractions, King John’s Castle in Limerick and Malahide Castle and Gardens in Dublin, last week.”

Mr Ruddle said that added-value initiatives developed by Shannon Heritage for the Irish domestic market had helped boost numbers also. “Our Irish visitors are hugely important to us and we really value the great customer loyalty they have shown over the years by returning to our sites year after year. It was with them in mind that a number of years ago we devised a calendar of 10 special events at key sites throughout the year at no extra charge. For example, we have Easter events at our Bunratty and Craggaunowen sites in Co. Clare.

“It’s critical that we are price competitive and, to that end, we have family rates at all our attractions but what’s essential is that our visitors go away not just happy about price but, moreover, about what they have experienced and the major increase in visitor numbers speaks for itself in that regard.”

For full details on the calendar of special events and more on Shannon Heritage visit<>


For further information please contact:

Nandi O’Sullivan

Shannon Group Head of Communications


Tel: 086-2371510


Notes to Editors:

About Shannon Heritage:


  • Shannon Heritage is one of the largest operators of heritage products in Ireland and was one of the first companies in Ireland to develop and run heritage attractions and evening entertainments.


  • Shannon Heritage daytime visitor attractions:


Bunratty Castle & Folk Park; King John’s Castle; Craggaunowen; Knappogue Castle & Walled Garden; Dunguaire Castle; Brian Boru Heritage Centre and Malahide Castle & Gardens.


Evening Entertainments:


Shannon Heritage operate medieval banquets at Bunratty, Knappogue and Dunguaire Castles; a Traditional Irish Night at Bunratty Folk Park.


  • The Company has been a market leader in the tourism business since 1963. The Shannon Heritage portfolio has developed from one product, the Medieval Banquet at Bunratty Castle to a total of seven day visitor sites and four evening dinner entertainments.


  • Shannon Heritage employs over 300 people in peak season


  • The company is important to tourism in the Shannon region as it contributes an estimated €20 million annually in spin-off revenue, benefitting those in local accommodation and tourism services sectors.


  • The Company now offers visitors a calendar of over 10 special events throughout the year which have particular appeal to the domestic market.