Location Tramore, County Waterford[1]
Operated by Celtworld Limited
Opened May 1992
Closed September 1995
Total 1

Celtworld was an educational amusement park, heritage interpretation centre, and tourist attraction in Tramore, County Waterford, Ireland.[1] It operated from 1992 to 1995 before closing due to financial difficulties.



The total start-up cost for the project was more than £4 million in Irish pounds (approximately 5 million).[2] With building costs of between £90 and £110 per square foot, it was reputed to be the most expensive construction project in Ireland.[3] Tramore Fáilte, an arm of the South East Regional Tourism Organisation, provided £737,000 toward start-up costs, in addition to term loans and leasing arrangements of approximately £575,000. The project also attracted a European Union Structure Fund Grant of £1.81 million.[2][4]

Private sector investment of £1.5 million was provided by Vectravision, Kentz, and British firm International Tourism Projects Ltd.[3][2] Bank loans provided a further £600,000 of capital.[2] A further £230,000 was funded by 63 Business Expansion Scheme (BES) investors, which included employees of the Bank of Ireland, Kentz, and Tramore Fáilte.[2] The 2.5 acre site was purchased from Tramore Fáilte for £400,000.[2] The company was incorporated as Celtworld Limited on 30th November 1990, opening in May 1992 with 15 full-time and 15 part-time employees.[5][2][3][4]


The art deco interior was designed by artist Jim Fitzpatrick.[6][7] The building was planned as a wet-weather attraction. It was clad with aluminium and was not air conditioned, which led to uncomfortable conditions in warm weather.[3]



Celtworld's main feature was a 25-minute show[7] which involved a revolving auditorium, the largest such theatre in Europe at that time.[6] Visual effects included animated artwork, computer-generated imagery, lasers, holograms, and animatronics.[6] The theatre was presented as a "Crystal Time Chamber" which allowed visitors to travel back to Celtic times. Every turn of the revolving theatre brought visitors to 1 of 6 presentations, which involved a range of mythical and legendary characters such as a daughter of Noah, Tuatha Dé Danann, Fomorians, Partholón, Lugh, Balor, and Cú Chulainn. The experience was narrated by Tuan mac Cairill.[6][7][4] Historical figures such as vikings and Saint Patrick were also included.[7]


After the theatre show, visitors entered the interactive Celtic Otherworld exhibition. This area included quizzes, information on women in Irish mythology, ogham stones, Aos Sí, an £18,000 replica Book of Kells, and an artificial tree with talking animatronic human heads.[6][7][8][4] The exit was via a gift shop.[7]


Celtworld experienced early trading difficulties and a financial consultant was appointed to review the company. It received a loan from Bord Fáilte in late 1993 but business did not improve.[2] Celtworld closed in September 1995 with losses of over £4 million.[2] More than £2 million had been spent on set-up, promotion, and consultancy fees.[2] The centre's failure has been attributed in part to its unchanging audiovisual presentations, which failed to attract adequate repeat visitors.[9] Bord Fáilte Director General Malt McNulty claimed that the project's failure was due to its design as a wet-weather facility. Its opening season saw unseasonably warm, dry weather which led to low attendance.[3]

Its failure led to discussion in Dáil Éireann, the Irish parliament, where Kathleen Lynch questioned the then Minister for Tourism and Trade, Enda Kenny about its closure. [10] Bobby Molloy also questioned Kenny over the closure and allegations which had been made on the RTÉ One current affairs television shows Prime Time and Marketplace.[11]


The property was placed on the market with the condition that it could only be used for tourism or leisure activities, which limited its potential sale price.[3] The site went on sale in September 1995 at an asking price of £600,000 and was sold to a Northern Ireland consortium in January 1996 for £475,000.[2] In 1997, the site was sold to Butlin's Mosney owner Phelim McCloskey for £380,000.[2] McCloskey developed a robotic dinosaurs exhibit which closed after less than a year.[2]

In 1999, McCloskey obtained planning permission for 30 short-term holiday apartments on the site. Permission was granted by An Bord Pleanála, controversially overruling a Waterford County Council decision to reject an original proposal for 36 apartments.[12] In 2000, Ambient Catering Limited purchased the site and developed a 20,000 square feet music venue named South with a capacity of 2,200 guests, at a cost of €3 million.[2] The venue opened in 2001 but closed soon afterwards.

Celtworld Limited was dissolved on 15th July 2005.[5]

The site was sold in May 2006 to Volute Properties Limited, who received planning permission for a mixed-use development with Dunnes Stores as anchor tenants.[2] This proposal fell through and the building was demolished in 2008.

A European Commission investigation was due to report in 1997 but as of 1999 had not been completed.[12]

Celtworld was featured in the 1994 RTÉ Television short drama, Gypsies.[13][14]


  1. 1 2 Jamie OKeeffe (2007-06-15). "Coast clear to transform Tramore "Celtworld" site | Munster Express Online". Munster Express. Retrieved 2014-02-09.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 O'Keeffe, Jamie (2008-04-11). "Celtworld 'legend' is laid to rest". Munster Express. Archived from the original on 2008-04-20. Retrieved 2014-02-09.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Colm Keena (1997-05-02). "Investigation into Celtworld is nearly complete". Irishtimes.com. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
  4. 1 2 3 4 http://www.jstor.org/stable/20557306
  5. 1 2 "Celtworld Ltd - Irish Company Info and Credit Scores". Solocheck.ie. 2005-07-15. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 Catastrophe, Kitty (2012-06-02). "Celtworld: Where mythology met lasers | Where's Grandad?". Wheresgrandad.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2014-02-09.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Cowman, Des (Autumn 1992). "Celtworld" (PDF). Decies. Journal of Old Waterford Society. p. 69. Retrieved 2014-02-09.
  8. John Murray, Tony Wheeler, Sean Sheehan. Ireland: a travel survival kit. Page 198. Lonely Planet, 1994.
  9. http://doras.dcu.ie/17424/1/t.m._breathnach_20120702154402.pdf
  10. "Celtworld (Tramore) Failure". Dáil Éireann. 1995-10-05. Retrieved 2014-02-09.
  11. "Dáil Éireann - 27/Feb/1996 Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Tramore (Waterford) Project". Oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
  12. 1 2 Chris Dooley (1999-06-25). "Permission for 30 Tramore holiday apartments at Celtworld site criticised". Irishtimes.com. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
  13. "Irish Film & TV Research Online - Trinity College Dublin". Tcd.ie. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
  14. "Film and Film-making in Waterford" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-07-18. Retrieved 2016-09-18.

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