THE FORMER Priest's Field in Enniscorthy is set to become the focal point of a new public park for the town. Councillors gave unanimous and enthusiastic backing last week to proposals to use property acquired in the 1990s for housing and car parking instead as a 'field nature zone'.
A grant application has been prepared for Wexford Local Development which is expected to pick up three-quarters of the tab for the €220,000 development.
The site formerly owned by the Catholic church authorities is to the rear of St. Aidan's cathedral. The Priest's Field - due to be renamed Orchard Field - is bounded on one side by the Presentation convent garden and the grounds of The Manse, with a steep wooded slope down to Irish Street on the other.
The drawing circulated to councillors last week showed a network of footpaths connecting Irish Street and Nunnery Road. The field has been allowed to become overgrown in recent times and the plan is to leave parts of the site in its natural state.
However, the plans also include a picnic area, skate park and public seating. The metal Conor Fallon sculpture currently on show in Abbey Square will provide an artistic centre piece.
'One of the most exciting projects the council has been involved in for a long time,' concluded Cllr. Seán Óg Doyle who predicted that the 'nature zone' will score well with tidy towns adjudicators.
' This is a beautiful project - do it as quickly as possible,' was the advice of Cllr. James Browne to officials, and the reaction from Cllr. Tom Moorehouse was also very positive: ' Thumbs up all the way.'
'It will be a little bit of countryside in the middle of the town,' predicted Cllr. Paddy Kavanagh. Councillors were told that gates to the new park will be locked overnight.