After months of negotiations, An Óige are delighted to announce that they will be opening the Newgrange Passage Mound as a hostel this year. They are no strangers to the re-utilisation of spaces.In the past they have had castles, coastguard stations, telegraph stations, breweries and schools. The organisation is known for finding and managing unusual properties but this will be their most ambitious project to date. Last year they wanted to utilise the beehive huts on Skellig Michael but the Star Wars Hollywood factory got there first.
What does the Department of Heritage think of this plan?
The Department of Heritage spokesman was delighted that An Óige were taking over the project. “For the last few years we have been increasingly worried about the impact of tours on the site. We were getting busloads of tourists every day and the traffic was going to have a negative effect on the area. Now that it is limited to three people per night we feel satisfied that Newgrange will be conserved into the future while also remaining open to the public. An Óige have a long history of looking after heritage properties so we trust them”
Bridget Cantwell, Volunteer Hostel Bookings Manager is eager to tell people about the experience. “It will be limited to 3 beds per night due to the layout of the interior. Cosy” is how Bridget described it. “One of the most attractive features of the hostel is the amount of artwork in the property. Nearly a quarter of the megalithic art in Europe are contained in this property and backpackers love that sort of funky stuff on the walls. Of course, the fact that there is only light in the place once a year means that the artwork might be hard to see but that will only add to the experience.”
Give us some more details please?
When asked how much it would cost per night, Finance manager Paul Carton stated that the cost would be kept as low as possible. Reservations Manager Deirdre Moore explained that bookings would still be processed the traditional way, by a lottery drawn by local schoolchildren. “This ties in well with our ethos of working with young people and we want to make this experience as accessible to everyone”, said Kate Cowan, Deputy Marketing Manager for An Óige.
“Knowth would be a possible sister hostel down the road if we ever ran into overflow problems or double-bookings.”
When asked if there were any plans to use Dowth aswell – “No,” said Kate, “Nobody really likes Dowth. It is just not as cool or as popular with Generation Z as the other two properties.”
A spokeman for Failte Ireland said they were delighted with the news that of this new heritage and tourism hybrid. “This is just the sort of stuff we envisaged when we came up with the Ancient East idea” they said.
Marketing Manager Roy Murray explained the thinking behind the concept. “Hostelling is changing but it is fundamentally about the utilisation of shared spaces and Newgrange is one of the oldest examples of that. Archaeologists have classified Newgrange as a communal gathering space so it is perfect for a hostel. It will also appeal to those who want to have a digital detox as there is no WiFi availability due to the fact that it is buried beneath 200000 tonnes of rock and soil.”
When asked if it was not unusual to be sleeping in a place where people were buried, Roy replied, “Well, we eat our breakfast every morning in a church in Dublin Hostel so that is kind of the same thing. We have a few ghosts in our properties too. Besides, they were buried 2000 years before Christ. That is a really long time ago so it is not as important as modern history.
What will the future bring us…?
Plans for future hostels include cliff side camping beds suspended from the Cliffs of Moher. “The adventure market have been looking for something like this for years” said Roy. Once we get the insurance sorted, we hope to have that up and running in 2017 but today is all about our new heritage property, Newgrange Mound. You can find more information about our newest hostel here, and we will keep you up to date with new plans.