Emerald Park eyes more rollercoasters and hotel as it opens Tír Na nÓg section

Former Tayto Park saw visitors decline last year following its rebrand after a decade-long collaboration with crisp brand

Emerald Park in Co Meath saw visitor numbers dip marginally last year following its rebrand from Tayto Park, but it expects to come close to enjoying its best ever year in 2024 following the opening of a new €22 million section on Tuesday.

The facility, which is based in Ashbourne, opened a new “immersive land” called Tír Na nÓg, which boasts two new rollercoasters to bring the park’s total complement to six. The new 6.5 acre area also features an additional ride as well as other retail spaces.

The park’s decade-long collaboration with the famous Tayto crisp brand concluded at the end of 2022, a year in which it enjoyed its strongest ever performance as it welcomed 750,000 customers through its gates.

Emerald Park managing director Charles Coyle said on Tuesday that visitor numbers dipped marginally to 730,000 last year following a “miserable” July with “constant rain”. He previously outlined a target of drawing 900,000 to 1 million customers.


“We have had somewhere between 130,000 and 140,000 so far this year, which is almost exactly flat on last year,” he told The Irish Times. “We do the vast majority of our business from this point until September 1st so we have to make hay in July and August.”

Mr Coyle said the park is also planning more developments, including a hotel on site somewhere down the line. The group was previously denied planning permission for a 250-bed facility, and Mr Coyle said the next iteration will be “much, much smaller”.

“We will be doing a huge consultation and plan around that, but it is part of the natural life cycle of theme parks to bring in some form of accommodation,” he said. “The idea is to extend the season, and it means you always have a minimum number of people in the park.”

In the more immediate term Mr Coyle said the park has plans in train for more rollercoasters. “We’re not done. We will be doing more, and hopefully it won’t take another seven years to get them through this time. We have ideas of the types of rides we want to do, and we will start to talk to suppliers in the coming months if numbers are as good as we hope them to be in the park.”

Notwithstanding all the development, Mr Coyle said the park has been impacted by the cost-of-living crisis. The group increased staff salaries by 12.5 per cent last year, which added €600,000 to its wage bill. To help offset this it has increased its entry price by €3 this year.

“The cost of living has also had an effect on the people coming in the door,” he said. “We wanted to increase the price of food and retail items to help offset the increase in costs, but we’ve held those steady even though it means a slight drop in the margin.

“We’ve also noticed a big increase in the number of memberships we are selling. People can’t afford to go on holidays to places like Portugal and Spain at the moment, so we find people are purchasing season passes and coming back regularly.”

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter