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Virtual Tours of Historical Sites to go On-line

Clare Champion, Friday, 31st August 2007

Clare Museum is set to become the first local authority museum in the country to develop Virtual Tours of selected historical and archaeological sites. The Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism this week allocated €10,000 to the Museum, under a new pilot scheme to assist local and regional museums.

The project will enable visitors to the Ennis-based Museum and museum section of the Clare County Library website www.clarelibrary.ie to navigate through panoramic 360 degree photographs of well-known Clare sites and monuments. Each virtual tour will be accompanied by an audio commentary.

Among the proposed locations under consideration for inclusion in the project are Brian Boru's Fort in Killaloe, the monastic settlement on Iniscealtra, Mooghaun Hillfort, Scattery Island in the Shannon Estuary, Ballykinvarga Fort in Kilfenora and St. Brigid's Well near Liscannor.

The Virtual Tours concept has been developed by Senior Executive Librarian, Anthony Edwards, who already has experience in utilising modern technology to bring history and heritage to new audiences. Mr. Edwards recently completed an online venture with Nova Scotia Libraries in Canada to bring Clare's heritage into people's homes via the library website.

Commenting on the Virtual Tours project, Mr. Edwards said, "Many of the sites chosen are difficult to access and remain unseen to the majority of people for various reasons. By providing these virtual tours, members of the public will be given a chance to experience these unique monuments and locations for themselves. In addition, providing access to the tours through the museum's website will make the material available to those who cannot access the sites for geographical or physical reasons". "The sites chosen have a body of folklore, history and archaeology relating to them which will be linked by audio tape during each tour and also included on the website", he added.

According to Clare County Librarian, Noel Crowley, "When completed in November, the Virtual Tours project will complement what is one of Ireland's leading sources of genealogical and historical information at www.clarelibrary.ie. It will also further enhance one of Ireland's most significant collections of archaeological, historical and geological exhibits at Clare Museum."

Museum curator, John Rattigan, said, "This will be another first for local authority museums in Ireland, and will undoubtedly set a new trend in bringing Clare's heritage to the people of Clare".

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