An image of the interior the Connacht GAA Air Dome.

Dome part of €5m. sports master plan for Mayo county town

A €5 million master plan is being drafted to enhance Castlebar's status as a multi-sports and tourism hub.

Local TD Alan Dillon is working closely with Mayo County Council in a bid to secure significant funding for phase two of the Lough Lannagh project originally unveiled by former Taoiseach Enda Kenny in 2018.

This state-of-the-art project includes a multi-lane tartan international standard running track, multi-sport playing fields to include new 4G synthetic grass soccer and rugby pitches.

A floodlight system and fencing at the former St. Mary’s pitch at ATU Mayo, Knockaphunta, Castlebar, could also be part of an application for funding under the next round of Large Scale Sport Infrastructure Funding (LSSIF), applications for which are due to be invited in quarter two of 2024.

Deputy Dillon said: "I am also looking at the prospect of creating an indoor dome, such as that which is located at the Connaught Centre of Excellence in Bekan, for the Castlebar location, which would accommodate football, rugby and soccer pitches as well as other sporting and cultural events.

“Critical to the success of this future application is the completion of the transfer of lands from the HSE to Mayo County Council, which has impacted a previous application.

“In 2019, a large-scale sports infrastructure grant application was submitted by Mayo County Council for the Mayo Multi-Sport Outdoor Adventure and Sports Tourism Hub.

“It incorporated phase two of the National Outdoor Pursuit Academy which will build on the success of Castlebar Swimming Pool, Lough Lannagh Holiday Village and the surrounding walks.”

Deputy Dillon said he will be proposing holding meetings early in 2024 with management and staff of Mayo County Council along with officials from the Department of Sport to expand on this project, to create a preliminary design and have work completed prior to the opening of LSSIF applications in mid-2024.

He added: “A recent study by Castlebar Chamber of Commerce, which was undertaken by PMG Consult and Grant Thornton, showed that sports tourism has an estimated value of €7.5 million to Castlebar and its environs each year.

"The overall economic impact, between sporting visitors, enterprise and jobs, generates in the region of €30 million to Castlebar.

“Sports tourism is vibrant in Castlebar with up to 120,000 visitors to events per annum. However, there are clear capacity issues in accommodating large numbers of visitors around key events.

“It is imperative that Mayo County Council deliver on their previous commitment to deliver on phase two of the Lough Lannagh project by developing this €5 million major multi-use sports hub.

“The hub could also be used to attract exhibitions, concerts and major sporting events, drawing further tourists and making the venue financially viable and sustainable.

“I intend to push to progress these plans further over the coming months to ensure these exciting prospects are brought to fruition.”