Ireland’s First ÉCONOMUSÉE Opens

Ireland’s first ÉCONOMUSÉE opened in March at the Celtic Roots Studio in Ballinahown, Athlone, Co. Westmeath by the Canadian Ambassador to Ireland, His Excellency Loyola Hearn.

An ÉCONOMUSÉE is a craft or artisan based business that opens its doors to the public to provide a learning and interpretive experience for visitors.

ÉCONOMUSÉE’S are an important cultural tourism attraction and contribute to the sustainability of rural areas through the creation of direct employment and by providing an attraction that disperses tourists to rural regions.

Speaking at the opening, Teagasc Director of Knowledge Transfer Dr Tom Kelly said: “The ÉCONOMUSÉE concept originated in Quebec, Canada where there are now over fifty ÉCONOMUSÉE’s contributing to employment and the maintenance of local skills and knowledge in traditional rural businesses ranging from artisan food to boat building.”

The opportunity to create Ireland’s first ÉCONOMUSÉE’ arose from an invitation to Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority, to become involved in an EU Northern Periphery Programme (NPP) project to bring the successful ÉCONOMUSÉE concept and business model to selected rural areas in Europe. Involving 7 partners in 7 countries, the project hopes to establish a network of 17 ÉCONOMUSÉE’S through the NPP area. The aim is eventually to have at least 4 ÉCONOMUSÉE’S in Ireland.

Celtic Roots Studio is world renowned for its bogwood creation, made from bog oak, yew and pine which are almost five thousand years old. Helen Conneely, from Celtic Roots Studio said: ”Our artists draw on the Irish landscape for inspiration to create sculptural pieces of contemporary beauty and ancient meaning from this bogwood. We like to link Ireland’s present with the natural richness of its distant past. Each piece is individually crafted from this unique material in the Studio’s workshop.”

The Celtic Roots Studio ÉCONOMUSÉE was supported by Westmeath Community Development Ltd through the Rural Development Programme (2007-2013).