Tuesday 23 July 2019

Planning sought for ambitious Court restoration project

Doneraile Court
Doneraile Court

Bill Browne

A planning application has been lodged with Cork County Council for the first phase of a major development project that will further bolster Doneraile Park's position as one of Ireland's most popular visitor attractions. 

Last year it was announced that €1.6 million had been set aside for a plan of works at the landmark Doneraile Court House, with the first tranche of €900,000 allocated to the project in September. 

Speaking at the time, Willie Pat Hallihan, chair of the Doneraile Development Association (DDA), said the initial allocation would be used to fund a major restoration project to the building, which dates back to the late 1600's. 

"We have been lobbying for this funding for a couple of years and are delighted that OPW Minister Kevin 'Boxer' Moran has approved the money needed to start the project," said Mr Hallihan.

The planning application has been lodged in the name of the Office of Public Works, the body responsible for the maintenance and day-to-day running of Doneraile Park. 

It makes provision for the change of use of the vacant residential first floor to exhibition rooms and associated facilities for public use together with associated internal and external renovation works. 

It also provides for the renovation of part of the existing basement and lower ground floors for circulation, toilet and plant room uses associated with the planned exhibition spaces.

Under the proposal an internal lift will be installed serving all floors of the protected building and the renovation of the existing single-story outhouse in the farmyard complex into a ticket office. 

Mr Hallihan said the project would kick start the next development phase at Doneraile Park, which welcomed more than 480,000 visitors through its gates in 2017. 

"Our hope is that this will help attract even more visitors to Doneraile Park, creating a significant financial spin-off for Doneraile Village and the wider north Cork region," said Mr Hallihan.

"Once this phase of the development has been completed it is intended that the remaining balance of the overall package will be used to furnish and fit out the ground floor," he added. 

The lodging of the planning application has been welcomed by local public representatives, including Cork East Labour TD Sean Sherlock, who has been a long time advocate of developing the facilities at Doneraile Park. 

"Doneraile Park is one of the jewels in north Cork's tourist offering. I am delighted to see progress being made on the plan for Doneraile Court and look forward to work starting on the project over the coming months," said Deputy Sherlock. 

Fine Gael general election candidate for Cork East Pa O'Driscoll said he said the project would "increase the potential of Doneraile and north Cork to grow as a tourist destination."