Sarner were engaged by Mid Ulster District Council to deliver a Feasibility Study, Masterplanning and Concept Plan Document for one of the most significant historical sites in Northern Ireland, The Hill of the O’Neill in Dungannon, an ancient bastion of power for over 400 years. The project aimed to uplift this extraordinary historic site onto the world stage as a new, cutting-edge immersive heritage destination that uncovers dramatic, poignant and engaging stories that shaped history and are still so relevant to Ireland today.

Northern Ireland, UK
- Feasibility Study - Story, Research & Interpretation - Opportunity Assessment - Market and Competitor Research - Visitor Analysis - Business Plan Development - Concept Design & Visualisation - Masterplanning - Consultancy

Client's brief

The Hill witnessed many fierce battles, sieges, feuds, and dynastic disputes. For centuries the Hill has been at the centre of the great upheavals in Irish history, from its earliest days as the headquarters of the famous O'Neill Dynasty until the Flight of the Earls and the Plantation of Ulster in the seventeenth century. 

The Hill of the O'Neill struggled to compete within the tourism market due to a number of interdependent factors. There was an over reliance on traditional methods of interpretation. Investment was now required to fully realise the economic, cultural and social potential to transform and re-imagine the heritage offering and to capitalise on the story of the O'Neills and the history of Ireland’s Gaelic chieftains. 


Our solution

Over the centuries the site hosted a rich tapestry of landmark historical events which were pivotal to the creation of the Ireland we know today. Building on this incredible history, Sarner helped reimagine the attraction as one of the leading cultural heritage destinations in Northern Ireland, with a view to securing significant funding and ultimately unlocking its potential to attract a national and international visitor market.

Modern audiences have come to expect high quality engaging experiences, and this is particularly true for the younger generation who have grown up amidst increasing levels of digital interactivity. The new proposed state-of-the-art attraction will transport visitors back to medieval Ireland and immerse them in stories of dynasties, power struggles and divided loyalties. Outside on the Hill, visitors will be able to take in the panoramic views across Ulster as they stand on the high vantage point from where Hugh O’Neill commanded his kingdom. Then, using groundbreaking digital visualisation techniques, the ancient empire of Hugh O’Neill will be brought to life before the visitors’ very eyes.

Sarner also undertook masterplanning work across the overall site, including options for landscaping of the Hill and surrounding environment, doing spatial studies and expansion options, and relocating the events space.

'We are extremely satisfied with the work that Sarner International has produced for Mid Ulster District Council. At all stages we have found the Sarner Team very professional, approachable and flexible in their approach and the Sarner team worked collaboratively with the Mid Ulster District Council team at all stages of the process. Mid Ulster District Council would welcome the opportunity to work with Sarner International in the future.'
Tony McCance Head of Culture and Arts, Mid Ulster District Council