I have an idea for helping Ireland recover from the recession.
What Ireland needs is a big (really big) theme park. Ireland needs tourism and with the increasingly inclement weather, this week notwithstanding, a better reason will soon be needed than a trip to the Cliffs of Mohr.
But if a large amusement and theme park was properly designed and built it could attract a huge crowd of tourists and reinvigorate the tourist trade as well as the construction and contracting trade. It could also propmpt the creation of many new businesses in support of the construction, including manufacturing. Not to mention the hotels.
where do you put a big theme park in ireland?
NOT DUBLIN ... The land is too expensive and Dublin is inconvenient to much pf the rest of the country.
You put it in Athlone.
Athlone is beautifully situated ... 90 minutes from Dublin airport, 90 minutes from Galway and not much more from Limerick and Sligo.
Not to mention that it is about that from Galway Airport, Shannon airport, and Knock airport
Cork and Belfast are farther away, but not too bad
Now what would the theme be? I suggest Six Flags of Ireland ... Six flags is a large theme and water park conglomerate int the US ... The original Six flags over Texas commemorated the fact that Texas had six countries which ruled it at differnet periods of time. Spain, Mexico, France, US, Confederacy, and Texas itself (we are the 'Lone Star State' because we were a separate country from 1836 to 1845).
Ireland has certainly had plenty of rulers...it should be easy to list out six rulers that have played their part in Irish history. The rides and amusements could be designed to highlight these and to let the irish work out some of their historical resentment over invasion (as we do in Texas regarding the Mexican and Spanish invasions)
Now any such amusement park must be covered to some degree. The weather is just too wet for people from drier climates to enjoy outdoor amusements. Not the whole park, certainly, but carefully designed layout, walkways, and the odd clear dome would make for a very peasurable experience.
Educational exhibits can be added as well and even arcologies where unusual or out of season crops could be grown and sold.
All of this requires a lot of land, which does exist around Athlone, a lot of careful construction, the opportunity for utilising alternative energy sources like wind (of which there is a lot) and a great deal of money. But it can be built in stages, financed by joint commercial and government, and can be opened while still under construction. There would be plenty of oppportunities to build hotel complexes, exhibits, car parks, and to enhance the road and rail access to Athlone if not to put in a regional airport of its own.
Governmental tax breaks for the developers, similar to those given to Disney World would spur the development as well.
Obviously, there will be issues and a tendency to say such a project is too expensive now during recession...but now may be the time to do this. After the recession, costs and prices will rise. People will be better able to travel and will be looking for relief from the dreariness of the recessionary period. They will be looking for diversions as their incme comes back up .. i don't just mean the Irish...I am talking about people from all over the world who will be looking for a new leisure diversion, a new vacation spot wher they can also jump off to visit the historical and natural sites of a country they have not been to before.
Building a theme park now would cost less as deflation takes effect and wages can be negotiated to be a bit lower. Then, as the recession lifts, the park will just be opening, all bright and shiny and new. And still under construction of course.
I'll leave it to better trained people than me to work out the details, but I think Ireland, if it wants to re-invigorate the Tiger, needs to investigate alternative economic solutions and an interesting, world class amusement park on a scale to compete with Disneyland Paris and coordinated with Irish-wide tourism using Athlone as a central jumping off spot is an idea to be considered.