Tuesday 16 July 2019

Accommodation plans among options suggested for Duncannon Fort

Philip Wallace and Eileen Roche from the Duncannon Village Renewal Group at the Duncannon Fort plan meeting
Philip Wallace and Eileen Roche from the Duncannon Village Renewal Group at the Duncannon Fort plan meeting
Jaqueline Rochford, Diane O’Hara and Catherine Power at the Duncannon Fort plan meeting

David Looby

Several interesting suggestions were made at a public consultation day about the future use for Duncannon Fort.

The attraction brought 15,000 visitors to Duncannon each year up until it closed suddenly in May 2014.

More than 60 people attended the public consultation meeting where archaeologists Emmett and Catherine McLoughlin outlined what works have already taken place at the fort and how the public responded to a written public submissions process funded by FLAG.

Chairperson of Hook Tourism Philip Wallace said the feasibility study led to a lot of public engagement. Business consultants, a quantity surveyors and an architect are also involved in drawing up plans which will be presented to Wexford County Council for consideration.

Philip said: 'We are looking into the possibility of opening accommodations in the fort. This is something that has happened across the UK where forts are being sold off and used as accommodations. It could be our niche and the areas needs more accommodation.'

He said with the abundance of history and heritage along the Hook peninsula, tourists could easily spend three to four days staying at a unique accommodation within the grounds of the fort, with views of the estuary.

'Tintern Abbey, Loftus Hall and the lighthouse all have excellent tours. It's all about experiences.'

Another idea proposed was for the fort to be sued as a scouting base, as Duncannon as one of the largest scour groups in the county.

'We could attract other scout groups and maybe they could camp within the fort grounds. It's not going back to the way it was and it wasn't economically viable. There could be scope for a cafe, a gallery and a military museum but it needs to be a money maker.'

The Irish Landmark Trust have developed a fort in County Cork for accommodation and Hook Tourism are hopeful they will consider developing Duncannon Fort also.

The Irish Heritage Trust may also want to get involved with the project, while private investor funding is another possibility.

'People are saying it will cost millions but until the feasibility report is completed we won't know.'

A grant of €150 saw new signage erected at the fort in recent times, while the officer's mess area was secured and the roof fixed, the windows were repaired and lunette on the lower moat so there is now access for the first time in three decades to the entire fort down to the lower area and back up through the tunnel.

Driven by Duncannon Village Renewal and Hook Tourism, there are concerns that the fort is not a priority project for the council, the OPW and National Monuments.

Since it closed the village has seen its shop close and its post office is about to close, so local businesses and residents are hopeful funding will be provided to reopen the popular star shaped tourist attraction.

New Ross Standard