World-wide, Oscar Wilde is second only in familiarity and popularity to the name of William Shakespeare, yet there is no single heritage destination in the world that proactively associates itself with Wilde in the way that Stratford does with Shakespeare.
Wilde spent seven years in Enniskillen at Portora Royal School. His most popular short story, The Happy Prince, is directly inspired by Enniskillen’s heritage assets. There is no current interpretation of Wilde’s childhood presence in Enniskillen beyond a blue plaque at Portora Royal School and no appreciation or conversation in the wider community about how important Enniskillen and Fermanagh, as a town and a landscape, and his schooling there impacted on the imagination of one of the world’s most loved writers.
This is the need and the opportunity to reanimate the Wilde story with Enniskillen, one to be shared throughout the whole community and materialized into a home for Oscar Wilde and his compelling story, Wildetown. A key issue that WILDETHING will address is seasonality for Enniskillen and Fermanagh as principally a summer only tourism destination. WILDETHING aims to ignite the spark to help long term transform of the area into a year round 365 day tourism destination associated with Oscar Wilde. Our goal would be to animate Enniskillen and its hinterland into a 365 day Wildean town and landscape of activity and presence across the wider community of business, culture, non-profit community organisations and tourism. The primary benefit from this model testing is how an entire urban town & community in all its facets of business, culture, education, tourism, services, leisure, hospitality industry, etc can be holistically brought together and unite under a single literary tourism concept, a case of the whole being made greater through this model than the sum of its parts. This has strong transferability possibilities to other small towns and villages with the following flow-on transferability benefits:
- Animating year-round tourism
- Evidence that minor connection between writer and place need not restrict successful literary tourism model
- Possibilities for SMEs right across the region
- Model for working with local government and national funders
- Growth of local civic pride