Minister of State at the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and the Department of Education and Skills, John Halligan, T.D. unveiled a new and enhanced visitor experience at the Lafcadio Hearn Japanese Gardens in Tramore, on Friday last, following Fáilte Ireland investment of €73,000.
The enhancements at Lafcadio Hearn Japanese Gardens in Tramore, which are expected to bring in an additional 11,000 visitors over the next five years, will take visitors on a journey through the amazing life of writer Patrick Lafcadio Hearn1 and the magic and mystery of the Orient. The official opening was also attended by H.E. the Japanese Ambassador Mitsuru Kitano, MEP Grace O’Sullivan, Waterford City and County Mayor, John Pratt and Fáilte Ireland representatives.
This is the third project funded under the Storytelling Interpretation Grants Scheme to open in Waterford, with Lismore Heritage Centre and Bishop’s Palace also recently unveiling their new and improved visitor experiences. The unique gardens, which have been open to the public since 2015, were designed to tell Hearn’s life story, who was brought up in Ireland and achieved iconic status in Japan where he lived from 1890-1904. The new interactive experiences will significantly enhance the visitor journey with:
• a new audio-visual room, created by Mirador Media, Tramore, offering a narrated video introduction to the gardens and two interactive touch screen information centres;
• an authentic new Japanese Tea House (Designed by Mike Roberts and built on site by Richard Cowman) where visitors can view a shadow casted image of the centuries old Japanese Tea Ceremony and will be introduced to images of the old Japan that Hearn loved;
• and a new self-guided audio tour available in five languages, including Japanese to guide the visitor through each of the ten garden areas2.
Unveiling the new interactive visitor experience, Minister of State at the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and the Department of Education and Skills, John Halligan, T.D. said:
“I’m delighted to see the new enhancements at the Lafcadio Hearn Japanese Gardens here today. Fáilte Ireland investment in projects like this is critical in driving greater tourism growth across the regions and I have no doubt that the new additions to the gardens will provide a boost to visitor numbers in the South East.”
Whilst this was the first visit to the gardens of the newly appointed Japanese Ambassador, H.E. Mitsuru Kitano, he was the latest in a succession of his country’s dignitaries to visit the gardens since their formal opening in 2015. Their visits all acknowledged this Irish memorial to Lafcadio Hearn who was known as ‘Japan’s most famous Irishman, and whose writing is still on the school curriculum in Japan today’.
Speaking about the ever-increasing importance of protecting and developing biodiversity and the natural environment, MEP Grace O’Sullivan, said:
“Hearn was a true and early advocate of biodiversity in his own published work ‘In a Japanese Garden’ and the Lafcadio Hearn Japanese Gardens is a sustainable tourism project of the utmost importance and charm”.
Mary Houlihan, Manager, Ireland’s Ancient East at Fáilte Ireland, said:
“At Fáilte Ireland, we are always looking for opportunities to stimulate the development of brilliant visitor experiences, and the new interactive features at the Lafcadio Hearn Japanese Gardens are testament to what can be achieved through investment and innovation. This is just one of 19 projects set to open following funding from our Ireland’s Ancient East Storytelling and Interpretation grants scheme and each project brings to life local heritage and culture. The enhanced experience at the gardens will boost the South East’s tourism appeal and will deliver significant growth in the number of visitors coming to the Waterford, bringing greater spend and revenue to the area.”
Agnes Aylward, Lafcadio Hearn Japanese Gardens Director, said:
“The grant funding from Fáilte Ireland has been of immense importance. This funding has enabled us to tell the amazing story of these gardens, and their namesake, in the very best possible way to our national and international visitors. We are delighted to be able to offer our visitors a really in-depth and satisfying experience.”