Con­sul­tants to map out Sligo Gaol po­ten­tial

The Sligo Champion - - NEWS - By CIARA GALVIN

THE firm be­hind the Ti­tanic Cen­tre and the Guinness Store­house has been ap­pointed as con­sul­tants to Sligo Gaol.

Con­tracts were signed re­cently with CHL Con­sult­ing to con­duct a fea­si­bil­ity study and map out the full po­ten­tial for the use of the Gaol which closed in 1956.

Par­tially used now by lo­cal clubs, the Civil De­fence and the coun­cil, non­profit group of vol­un­teers, Friends of Sligo Gaol, are hop­ing to even­tu­ally open the build­ing to the pub­lic and con­serve the 200-year-old struc­ture.

De­scribed by the group as a ‘ key as­set to the town’, it is now hoped that the con­sul­tancy group will de­velop a phased project for the build­ing.

The gaol still con­tains orig­i­nal cells and their doors and graf­fiti is vis­i­ble on the walls left by pris­on­ers. Among those im­pris­oned in­cluded Michael Collins and Michael Davitt.

Speak­ing to The Sligo Cham­pion fol­low­ing the con­tract sign­ing, Ciaran McHugh, Fea­si­bil­ity Study Project Man­ager with Friends of Sligo Gaol, said CHL Con­sult­ing will be look­ing at the best op­tions for the build­ing and com­pil­ing a re­port.

The fea­si­bil­ity study will iden­tify and as­sess op­tions for the de­vel­op­ment of Sligo Gaol as a pub­licly ac­ces­si­ble amenity, an as­set for the com­mu­nity, and a key tourism at­trac­tion for Sligo.

The study will exam the ex­ist­ing plans and poli­cies as out­lined in the Sligo Gaol Con­ser­va­tion Plan, the Sligo East City/Cran­more area Re­gen­er­a­tion plan and Sligo Her­itage pol­icy.

They will also as­sess the fi­nan­cial vi­a­bil­ity of var­i­ous po­ten­tial op­tions mea­sur­ing op­er­a­tional costs against sources of on­go­ing in­come.

CHL Con­sult­ing’s ex­ec­u­tives who will be work­ing on a fea- sibil­ity study have worked on her­itage sites in­clud­ing Spike Is­land and El­iz­a­beth Fort in Cork, and tourism in­ter­ests in­clud­ing Fáilte Ire­land and Bord Bia.

“They have tonnes of ex­pe­ri­ence in this sec­tor. You could have mar­kets, there’s lots of po­ten­tial, com­mer­cial tourism is one po­ten­tial use for it but also that it’s a com­mu­nity space,” said Mr McHugh.

He added that the vol­un­tary group do not ex­pect that the coun­cil will fund the project and that ex­ter­nal fund­ing and cap­i­tal grants will have to be sought.

Friends of Sligo Gaol are fund­ing this study with a grant from the LEADER Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme 2014-2020 with ad­di­tional match fund­ing from the group’s own funds.

Com­ment­ing on the ap­point­ment, Sligo County Coun­cil CEO Ciaran Hayes said, “I could en­vis­age the gaol be­com­ing a flag­ship project for Sligo and the re­gion.

“The coun­cil looks for­ward to work­ing with the con­sul­tants and the Friends of Sligo Gaol in their ef­forts to de­ter­mine the way for­ward”.

Friends of Sligo Gaol chair­per­son Tam­lyn McHugh said, “We re­gard the ap­point­ment of the con­sul­tants as the most sig­nif­i­cant step yet to­wards the re­al­i­sa­tion of our aims. We are de­lighted to have se­cured the ser­vices of spe­cial­ists with the ex­per­tise of CHL Con­sult­ing”.

Michael Couna­han, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of CHL, said, “Sligo Gaol is a very im­por­tant her­itage site with many unique fea­tures. It has gen­uine po­ten­tial to be­come a re­ally ex­cit­ing vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ence and thereby make a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to the fu­ture growth of tourism in Sligo.”

Sligo Gaol.

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