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13 March 2005
Navan centre could be a 'tourist mecca'

County Armagh's Navan Interpretive Centre (Northern Ireland) could become a tourist mecca for the county if its new owners are ambitious enough, a local councillor claimed. Pat McNamee from Armagh City and District Council has published a discussion paper on the future of the centre ahead of its anticipated opening this May and wants to see it include a range of historic sites in the area. He recently visited the Bru na Boinne interpretive centre at Newgrange Tomb in Co Meath, which identifies a number of archaeological sites in the region, and he believes it could be a model for the Navan development.
     Armagh City and District Council bought the mothballed Navan Centre after a lengthy legal process and hopes to use it to revitalise tourism in the area. Mr McNamee said he had been encouraged by his experience of Newgrange, where annual visitor numbers reach 220,000, and added that Navan could become a valuable archaeological and educational tool. "When the Navan Centre re-opens this summer, it could provide a resource for visitors to inform them of all the archaeological and historical sites in Armagh City and District as well as exhibiting the history and myth of Eamhain Mhaca (the Navan Fort)," he said. The Sinn Fein councillor said the Tamlacht Horde, two bowls of Czechoslovakian origin from 1100 BCE and a bronze sword made in Ireland during the same period, could be housed at Navan and would increase its prestige as a centre of archaelogical treasures.
     He said the Navan Centre could be a point of reference for all sites of interest in Armagh and added that the local community should be encouraged to use the building for events during the off-peak tourist season. "It would be unrealistic to expect that the Navan Centre could achieve the success of Bru na Boinne in the short term. However, the application of the themes and practices of the Co Meath centre could help ensure the success of the Navan Centre as a focal point for the tourist who wants to see the archaeological and historical wealth of Navan Fort and Armagh City and District," he added.

Source: Belfast Telegraph (10 March 2005)

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