Wednesday, 5th August 2015
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral goes high tech with interactive Discovery Space interpretative centre
Visitors to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin 8 will now be able to get a high tech insight into the building, past and present, with the launch this morning (05.08.15) of the new Discovery Space.
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe TD was on hand to officially open the new area, which is housed in the south transept of the historic building. Highlights of the new facility include a large touch screen table featuring interactive content on the building’s history; brass rubbings; a large jigsaw of one of the windows of the Cathedral; a small reference library; an Audio Visual unit; and a number of iPad computers featuring the Cathedral’s app.
The Discovery Space fuses the history of the Cathedral with modern technology, with the docks housing the iPads, the Discovery Boxes where the games are stored, and the Audio Visual unit constructed from recycled 19th Century carved oak pews from the building.
The 55inch touch screen table allows users to discover the history of the Cathedral, including its monuments, characters and stained glass windows. It also shows comparative then and now photos of the interior of the building, as well as giving users the opportunity to explore hidden areas of the church.
Meanwhile, those visiting the AV area will be treated to short video snippets showing the Cathedral’s history. The seated area will also allow for presentations to small groups of people unsuited to the tour, giving them greater access to and appreciation of the historic church, which dates from 1220.
The Discovery Space is Phase Two of the €250,000 works to the building, Phase One of which was the installation of the Tree of Remembrance in the north transept last summer. The tree is in memory of those affected by conflict. Fáilte Ireland provided 65 per cent of the funding for the works, with Saint Patrick’s Cathedral making up the balance.
Speaking at today’s launch, Canon Horace McKinley from Saint Patrick’s Cathedral said: “Last year nearly half a million tourists and school children paid a visit to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, with the average visit lasting around 23 minutes.
“We hope that this fantastic new interactive resource will make the Cathedral even more accessible to those interested our rich cultural heritage, encouraging them to stay longer and allowing them to learn in a more modern and interesting way. Ultimately, we hope that the Discovery Space will enhance visitors’ experience and enjoyment of their surroundings.”
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe TD commented: “Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, which dates back 800 years, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. Its location in the heart of Dublin city saw close to half a million people visiting it last year but, as is the case with the tourism sector generally, we must continue to seek the most effective ways of attracting more visitors and of meeting their needs.
“In recent years surveys were conducted that indicated that while the building itself was a massive draw, visitors were keen to learn more about the history of the place and the role it has played in Dublin throughout the years. The development of this new Discovery Space Interpretative Centre, which includes interactive features, is exceptional. The addition of touch screen facilities, themed videos and an audio visual unit sets out the Cathedral’s story and brings the building to life.
He added: “Using modern technology to help improve the visitor experience is nothing new for Saint Patrick’s Cathedral though, as last March Minister Michael Ring launched an app which allows visitors to access information about the Cathedral on smartphone and mobile devices. I have no doubt that these new facilities will see tourists and locals visiting Saint Patrick’s in even greater numbers across the remained of the summer and in the years to come.”
Meanwhile, Fáilte Ireland’s Director of Strategic Development, Orla Carroll emphasised Dublin’s strategic importance for overseas tourism to Ireland. Almost three quarters of overseas visitors stay in Dublin at some point in their trip to Ireland and tourism is worth over €1 billion to the local economy in Dublin.
Welcoming the role Saint Patrick’s Cathedral plays, Ms Carroll added: “Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, with hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, is a popular tourism destination and this new interpretative centre will improve the experience provided by telling the story of the Cathedral in an innovative, interactive and immersive fashion.
“Increasingly, a successful tourism destination needs to be able to tell its story well and provide opportunities for visitors to engage with that narrative. Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, with this new development, will do just that and contribute to our overall ambition of marketing Dublin as a ‘must-see’, ‘must-do’ and ‘must go’ destination.”
For further information on the Cathedral, visit www.StPatricksCathedral.ie.
Contact: Joanne Ahern / Sebastian Enke, DHR Communications, Tel: 01-4200580 / 087-9881837 / 087-3239496.
Notes to Editors
About Saint Patrick’s Cathedral
Built in honour of Ireland’s patron saint, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral stands adjacent to the famous well where tradition has it Saint Patrick baptised converts on his visit to Dublin.
The parish church of Saint Patrick on this site was granted collegiate status in 1191, and raised to cathedral status in 1224. The present building dates from 1220. The Cathedral is today the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland (a church of the Anglican Communion) and also serves as one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ireland. The Cathedral welcomed 465,000 visitors during 2014.
Today the Cathedral is open to all people as an architectural and historical site, but principally as a place of worship. Charges are made for those visiting for sightseeing and these contributions directly support the future of this holy and historic building.