President Higgins Opens New Visitor Experience in Co. Wicklow

By Dave Simpson
President Higgins Opens New Visitor Experience in Co. Wicklow

President Michael D. Higgins official opened a new visitor experience on Wednesday 6 July in Co. Wicklow called "Beyond the Trees Avondale", which was developed in partnership between Coillte, Fáilte Ireland and EAK Ireland in Avondale Forest Park in Co. Wicklow, combining a 700 metre treetop walk with a 12 storey high viewing tower, according to a statement published on Fáilte Ireland's website.


According to the statement published on, the new "Beyond the Trees Avondale" experience will be further enhanced in the autumn when restoration work on the home of Charles Stewart Parnell, Avondale House, is due to be completed and the house will open to visitors.

This €19 million project at Avondale is part of Coillte's strategy to create more world class visitor destinations and increase recreation spaces in Ireland, according to the statement published on, which also noted that 60 new full- and part-time jobs have been created at the new visitor experience, and it is expected that the experience will attract 200,000 to 250,000 visitors within a full year of opening.

Statement By President Higgins

According to the statement published on, President Higgins said in his remarks to formally open the new visitor experience, "In terms of lived experience, may I suggest that places like Avondale House and Forest Park allow us all - people from diverse walks of life, of all ages and backgrounds - to reconnect with nature, to reaffirm its critical position in our lives, perhaps even to commit to taking individual and collective actions to protect it, to tackle declining biodiversity and climate change.

"This could be the greatest impact and legacy of this beautiful forest park which I am so pleased to formally open today."


Statement By Coillte CEO

The statement published on included a statement from Coillte CEO Imelda Hurley that said, "Avondale is a very special site for Coillte, both because of its unique forestry heritage and the historical connection to the Parnell family. We are honoured to welcome President Higgins here today to officially open Ireland’s latest world class visitor destination, 'Beyond the Trees Avondale', a unique collaboration between Coillte, Failte Ireland and EAK Ireland which offers visitors, young and old, the opportunity to experience the beauty of Avondale and the surrounding Wicklow countryside in a fascinating new way that brings drama and excitement to the simple exploration of the forest.

"Every consideration has been given to sustainability and accessibility in the development of this spectacular visitor destination, and we are very proud to join with Failte Ireland and EAK Ireland to welcome Irish and international visitors to go 'Beyond the Trees' here at Avondale. Our new forestry vision announced earlier this year aims, among other things, to grow new forests, manage our existing forests for greater carbon capture, deliver valuable wood products and enhance biodiversity. In addition, this vision aims to create more incredible visitor experiences for the enjoyment of our citizens and tourists, with 'Beyond the Trees Avondale' being an outstanding example of a new world class visitor experience on the Coillte estate."

Statement By Director Of Product Development At Fáilte Ireland

The statement published on included a statement from Director of Product Development at Fáilte Ireland Orla Carroll that said, "Investing in standout attractions is a key element of attracting international visitors to Ireland and encouraging domestic tourists to explore different areas of Ireland. 'Beyond the Trees Avondale' is a totally unique world-class addition to the tourism offering in Ireland and will attract thousands of visitors to Wicklow and the wider Ireland's Ancient East region, driving regional tourism growth and economic benefits for local communities.

"'Beyond the Trees' has been executed with sustainability at its core, delivering on Fáilte Ireland's Opening the Outdoors strategic pillar and contributing another exciting focal point in Ireland’s Ancient East that supports our ambition to develop Ireland as an internationally recognised outdoor activity destination. We are pleased to have developed this significant project under our strategic partnership with Coillte and our partners in EAK Ireland, and we look forward to seeing it develop as a must-visit destination for domestic and international tourists in the years ahead."

Statement By EAK CEO

The statement published on included a statement from EAK CEO Bernd Bayerköhler that said, "In 2009, EAK opened the first treetop walk in Germany. Today, we are delighted to be here for the opening of our twelfth treetop walk in a total of seven European countries. Ireland has always been on my list of the most attractive locations for an installation like this. But for such a project in a new country, we needed not just the right place but also the right partners, and we were delighted to partner with the McArdle Family from Carlingford Adventure as our joint venture partner in this project. When we were invited by Coillte and Failte Ireland to visit Avondale Forest Park, for me it was immediately clear that this unique Arboretum at this historical location was the place we had been looking for to develop a world class tourist destination in Ireland.


"Together we have managed in the last two and half years to complete this project despite all the challenges we had to face. Many thanks for that and for the opportunity to be a partner and co-investor in 'Beyond the trees Avondale'."

© 2022 Hospitality Ireland – your source for the latest industry news. Article by Dave Simpson. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.