National Trust, the charitable organisation that looks after around 250,000 hectares of countryside, 720 miles of coastline, and numerous historic places in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, has announced the opening of a visitor centre at the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.
The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB), the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the National Trust, have jointly funded the visitor centre at the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The centre has taken an investment of around £18.5 million, and has been designed by Dublin based architects, Heneghan Peng.
The centre, designed to blend into its surroundings of 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, offers a breathtaking view of the Causeway from its interior. As part of the visitor centre construction, the trails and pathways around the site have also been upgraded, for better access and views.
The centre also features exhibitions, audio guides, guided walks, and interactive displays and activities that help visitors enjoy the beautiful landscape to the full.
Heather Thompson, the National Trust director for Northern Ireland, said, ‘It was extremely important for us to create visitor facilities worthy of this unique, legendary visitor attraction. As well as looking the part, we wanted to ensure the building was sustainably built, using the latest technologies wherever possible.
Currently 600,000 people visit the stones each year, and the new centre will enable us to increase capacity by 30 percent. This will not only provide a major boost to the regional economy, but we will now employ 150 local people and 30 volunteers.
This is a significant milestone for the National Trust in Northern Ireland and is the culmination of years of working in partnership with stakeholders in the community, the business sector, the government and political arenas.’