Taking the Reins at Fethard Horse Country Experience

Tori McMorran has joined the Fethard Horse Country Experience (FHCE) as its new manager. Tori has over 25 years, involvement in the management of cultural heritage assets and brings extensive experience as  an  archaeologist and museum specialist.

I’ve been working in The Hunt Museum, Limerick, on the collection and international collaborations.  Growing up on the Dingle Peninsula I became familiar with the relationship between tourism and heritage and later studied archaeology and economics focussing on community development. As a founding member of the Thomas MacDonagh Museum, Cloughjordan, I advocate the concept of community being the best stewards of their own heritage.

The last 12 months working on a pan-European project, aiming to increase access to archaeological resources, has been exciting. Working in collaboration I see we all have the same struggles and shared goals.

Fethard is well known in the heritage sector in Ireland, having the longest extant portion of enclosing town wall, Síle-na-Gigs and a wealth of other heritage resources. I’ve seen work that’s going on in Fethard through attending a few Heritage Group activities and visiting the Centre. I’ve sensed how inspired the community is by the area’s rich heritage.

The horse appears in every type of museum across the world. It’s such a significant aspect of our evolution and is now an intangible aspect of our cultural heritage. It is also a shared story which gives opportunity to create connections. Fethard is unique in focussing on the horse within a landscape where that relationship is still very visible. The digital experience tells this story in a very relevant way.

Going forward, I am committed to delivering the next step for the FHCE. Developing educational resources will offer another side to the centre. Creating new user engagements, but also continuing to ensure the community is using  the centre as a heritage resource is vital. The townpark development is an exciting opportunity to reflect the heritage of Fethard in new ways and to embrace its beneficial impact in community health and wellbeing.

A visit to the FHCE is a real destination experience. You learn about the horse, but you really get a view of Fethard and its beautiful surrounding. Even looking out the window you can see Slievenamon and you realise how much is on offer by a stay in the town. The Centre is housed in a wonderful heritage building with a fascinating history.

The impact of Covid-19 on the tourism sector has been catastrophic and the effects will be felt for some time. However, the Heritage community is resilient and has seen many cycles of hard times. Tipperary County Council and the tourism sector have activated supports focussing on advice and guidance and building knowledge of what the sector needs going forward.

The FHCE will be a place where the community can reconnect. We will be ready to welcome children and adults into a safe space to engage with art and culture. I expect overseas visitors will take time to return. In the immediate future they will be looking for a reassuring and low risk experience. Fethard is in a good position to capture the imagination. We can offer a distinct cluster of activities and facilities for all visitors.

The FHCE is supported by a dedicated group of volunteers who have a breath of knowledge which makes the visitor experience very personal.  My predecessor, Laura along with these volunteers has done a fantastic job in building an engaging experience. I’m looking forward to building on the enthusiastic reception the Centre has had in its formative years.