Visiting the Black Castle of the past
PLANS are gathering pace to boost the Black Castle’s potential as a top tourist attraction.
Wicklow Tidy Towns, Wicklow Historical Society, the Heritage Office and the UCD School of Archaeology are all involved in the €10,000 funded project.
Metal probes will be inserted into the ground to try and determine how far underground the castle extended to. Uto Hogerzeil, a historical reconstruction specialist, will illustrate what the Black Castle looked like in its heyday, giving visitors an idea of its true scale.
If successful, it is hoped to carry out similar projects for the old Abbey Grounds and St Patrick’s arrival on the shores of Wicklow by sea.
THE Black Castle can become a major tourist attraction ona-par with Wicklow Gaol with the help of a €10,000 grant to highlight the historic ruins.
Wicklow Tidy Towns, Heritage Officer Deirdre Burns and Professor Graeme Warren, Head of UCD School of Archaeology, are spearheading the project.
The funding will allow for promotional signage, the upgrading of footpaths and an information board displaying how the castle looked in its heyday and its local significance.
Speaking at Monday’s meeting of Wicklow Municipal District, Andrew Lawless, Chairman of Wicklow Tidy Towns, said the Black Castle could be the start of a tourism drive highlighting Wicklow town’s rich heritage.
He said: ‘this is a very important project. If it works, we can do something with the Abbey Grounds and on St Patrick arriving in Wicklow, as well as other projects around the town.’
John Finlay, Chair of Wicklow Historical Society, has also lent his expertise.
‘We think the Black Castle have been very difficult to build and it might have taken more than one attempt,’ said Mr Lawless.
Experts now think that the castle triangular in shape and that the arch entrance may have been part of a larger, outer wall.
A geo study will be carried out of the area and will be incorporated into a community style day, whereby the community could get involved, see how the survey is carried out and participate in the study.
The volunteers would ‘grid’ out the whole Black Castle, with metal probes inserted in the ground very few metres to try and determine where the castle extended to underground.
Between five to six volunteers will be sought each day of the study which will take place in October over a fiveday period.
PhD student Susan Curran will carry out the main work in relation to organising the study, which should give valuable insight into the scale of the original Black Castle structure.
A drone will also be used to survey the castle from the air.
‘Once this survey is complete and we have obtained information from Tadhg O’Keeffe, we can go about designing signage for the castle. We will be availing of the services of artist Uto Hogerzeil , to carry out work for us in relation to the signs. He has done similar works in Kilkenny, Wexford and Waterford, among other places,’ added Mr Lawless.
Mr Hogerzeil, a historical reconstruction specialist, will then illustrate what the Black Castle looked like in its heyday, giving visitors an idea of its true scale.
Cllr Gail Dunne said: ‘I always saw the ruins growing up and was fascinated by them. I think this is a major tourism opportunity. I don’t think we have really sold St Patrick arriving in Wicklow to the tourism market.
‘Wicklow Gaol attracts around 40,000 visitors a year but I don’t think they stay in Wicklow for any length of time. If we have the Black Castle, Wicklow Gaol and the Abbey Grounds then people would start to stay more.’
As member of the Heritage Forum Cllr John Snell said he was looking forward to seeing the completed project.
‘The Black Castle is one of my favourite places in the whole of Ireland. It’s absolutely beautiful up there and I think people underestimate the amount of people who go up to see the Black Castle.’
District Cathaoirleach Cllr Shay Cullen said: ‘there are also other different funding streams available, from the Government as well. This is something we really need to focus on. The opportunities for Wicklow town from a tourism perspective are plentiful.’
The Black Castle.