Irish rugby stars have come together to launch a new interactive rugby museum in Limerick city. The €30m, six-storey museum will employ 50 people and is partly funded by Limerick billionaire businessman and racehorse owner JP McManus. Present at the launch were Johnny Sexton, Joy Neville, Martin Johnson, Bryan Habana, Peter Stringer, Ciara Griffin and Paul O’Connell, who is the face of the project.
According to Mr O’Connell, the idea for the museum began “just before the start of the pandemic” and has since developed into an “absolutely stunning building which will be a civic building for the people of Limerick for the next 200 years, hopefully”. The development is expected to attract 100,000 visitors to Limerick per annum and complement the city’s other tourist attractions, such as King John’s Castle, Thomond Park, Hunt Museum, Treaty Stone, and River Shannon.
Visitors to the museum will have the opportunity to practice their sidestep skills against local rugby legend Keith Earls, as well as learn about the story of how the former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, and former captain of the Springboks team, Francois Pienarr, united the country in winning the 1995 Rugby World Cup in the post-Apartheid era. Mr Pienaar, who was present at the launch, spoke about the power of sport to unite people, saying “sport has the power to unite people like little else does, and that is exactly what happened in 1995, to a country that was so far apart in terms of race and race relationships”.
The museum is a welcome addition to Limerick’s tourism industry, which has suffered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, with the easing of restrictions and the launch of this exciting new attraction, Limerick hopes to attract visitors from around the world. Speaking at the launch, Mr O’Connell said “We now have a really exciting tourist attraction in the middle of the city centre that will hopefully attract people from county Limerick into the city, from around the country and from around the world – it’s a very exciting day”.
The museum’s interactive exhibits and displays will provide visitors with an immersive experience of rugby’s rich history and culture. It will also serve as a tribute to the sport’s greatest players and moments, with special attention given to the achievements of Irish rugby. The museum’s opening is a testament to the enduring popularity of rugby in Ireland and its importance to the country’s cultural heritage.
In conclusion, the launch of the new interactive rugby museum in Limerick is a significant milestone for Ireland’s tourism industry. The museum’s state-of-the-art exhibits and displays, coupled with its interactive features, are sure to attract visitors from around the world. With its opening, Limerick hopes to establish itself as a hub for rugby enthusiasts and tourists alike, and provide a much-needed boost to the city’s economy.