Fort Dunree and Inch Wildfowl Trust Join Forces
Two of Inishowen’s best known heritage attractions and Discovery Points on the Wild Atlantic Way (Fort Dunree and Inch Wildfowl Reserve) have begun a collaboration to maximise the potential of both sites.
Fort Dunree Military Museum Ltd was originally opened to the public in 1986, and has provided interest for tourists of all ages ever since. It has also been a source of great pleasure and reminiscence for those of a military background, whether having served at the post or just been involved in its military history. At present there is a Military Museum, Wildlife Centre, Network of walking paths, Auditorium, Shop and Cafeteria. This range of facilities is not on offer anywhere else in the peninsula. It also has the finest array of artillery artefacts anywhere outside of Gibraltar. In recent years Dunree has become known as a Centre for Peace & Reconciliation and holds a Remembrance Ceremony every year in honour of the men and women of Inishowen who died in World War I.
There are exciting future plans to develop the tourism product on site and recent funding has enabled the first phase to take place with the restoration pier facilities at Dunree. As FDMMLtd approaches its 30th anniversary it has welcomed over 300,000 visitors through its doors.
Inch Wildfowl Reserve has been a massive success story for the Inishowen and indeed Donegal Tourism industry. Inch Wildfowl Reserve has been in development since 2002, with the National Parks and Wildlife Service creating the first stage of paths in 2006. Since then the project which involves an amalgam of local community, Donegal County Council, National Parks and Wildlife and Donegal Creameries have secured substantial funding to create a fantastic looped walk around Inch Lake spanning 8km. The combination within this site of extensive feeding areas and safe resting and roosting sites makes this site one of the most important wetlands in the country for wintering waterfowl. It supports a wide diversity of wintering waterfowl, notably swans and geese, as well as breeding terns, gulls, waders and duck. Being on the western- most part of Europe it also attracts a fair share of unusual birds throughout the year. The site has seen a phenomenal success, attracting 65,000 visitors in 2014 and receiving recognition from the Irish Tourism Industry awards under the Best Environmental Tourism Innovation.
There are a number of ways in which the two projects will work together to help build on the work already taken place. The partnership, funded by Donegal County Council, is a first of it’s kind as both attractions are discovery points on the Wild Atlantic Way and will be a massive aid to each other in building visitor numbers. Both attractions are connected as they sit on the shores of Lough Swilly and demonstrate totally different landscapes and habitats for the flora, fauna, marine and birdlife that thrive in this area. Both sites show the best of natural and built heritage coming together to provide places of great interest for visitors local, national and international. Conservation education is integral to the ethos of these superb national assets. Fort Dunree will provide “front office” facilities for the Inch Wildfowl Reserve project, taking in clerical duties, marketing through website and Social Media, publicising the site through various tourist organisations. There could also be possibilities of joint funding initiatives in the future. This arrangement will be very productive for both projects and should create conditions favourable for greater development in the years ahead.