Bar­ryscourt Cas­tle to re­main closed for an­other 18 months

Irish Examiner - - County - Sean O’Rior­dan

In dis­ap­point­ing news for his­tory buffs, one of East Cork’s most recog­nis­able her­itage sites is show­ing no sign of reopen­ing any time soon.

The his­toric Bar­ryscourt Cas­tle, East Cork is un­likely to re­open to the pub­lic for at least an­other 18 months as work con­tin­ues to un­der­take es­sen­tial re­pairs caused by ex­ces­sive damp.

Bar­ryscourt Cas­tle in Car­rigt­wohill, which dates back to the 16th cen­tury, was closed nearly five years ago by the Of­fice of Pub­lic Works (OPW).

At the time, “struc­tural” is­sues were iden­ti­fied as the cause of the clo­sure. In 2018, two years af­ter the cas­tle had first closed, there were hopes it would re­open by the end of that year. How­ever, two years on, there is no sign of that hap­pen­ing.

The de­lay in reopen­ing it came to light af­ter lo­cal Green Party coun­cil­lor Alan O’Con­nor asked his party TD Mal­colm Noo­nan to ques­tion Min­is­ter for Pub­lic Ex­pen­di­ture and Re­form, Michael McGrath, about progress on the project.

The cas­tle was dis­cov­ered in re­cent years to have sig­nif­i­cant prob­lems with damp pen­e­tra­tion which caused the in­ter­nal elec­tric­ity sys­tem to be­come in­her­ently un­safe.

The vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ence at the cas­tle had to be closed on an emer­gency ba­sis while re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion works were planned and a works project put in place.

The project, which has been on­go­ing since, in­volves pro­gres­sively dry­ing the en­tire cas­tle struc­ture and re­point­ing all of the ex­ter­nal walls to pre­vent fu­ture wa­ter ingress.

Mr McGrath said this work has proved to be tech­ni­cally very chal­leng­ing and has taken longer than was orig­i­nally ex­pected due to the dis­cov­ery of ad­di­tional works which needed to be per­formed last year to chim­neys and roofs.

“It is planned, once the ex­ter­nal work is com­plete, that the build­ing will be rewired and a new heat­ing sys­tem in­stalled, clear­ing the way for a reopen­ing to the pub­lic. Cur­rently, it is ex­pected that there will be two fur­ther sea­sons’ work ex­ter­nally be­fore the project is sub­stan­tially com­pleted, likely at the end of next year,” Mr McGrath said.

Mr O’Con­nor said it was a shame it had to be closed for so long as it was a great at­trac­tion for the area.

“How­ever, it seems as though there was a great deal to do, and that the works will be thor­ough. It’ll be worth the wait when it fi­nally re­opens,” he said.

Coun­cil­lors in East Cork have fought to keep the topic of reopen­ing the cas­tle on the agenda.

Car­rigt­wohill-based coun­cil­lor An­thony Barry said, in 2018, that the cas­tle was a “great tourism draw” and its ab­sence was hurt­ing tourism in the area.

In 2017, Mr Barry and oth­ers de­scribed the clo­sure as “re­gret­table”.

Bar­ryscourt Cas­tle, Car­rigt­wohill, Cork. It has been closed for nearly 5 years.

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