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Inistioge traffic plan would 'scare away' Hollywood


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The planned new-look to Inistioge is causing disquiet among some locals.

The planned new-look to Inistioge is causing disquiet among some locals.

The planned new-look to Inistioge is causing disquiet among some locals.

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ONE of the region's most popular film shoot locations could lose its appeal to Hollywood, Netflix and Amazon Prime if works planned by Kilkenny County Council go ahead this year.

This is the view of Cois Abhann centre manager John Gilsenan, who says the works will see big changes to the picturesque village - including raised paving and a new parking regime.

It was identified in the Inistioge Local Area Plan 2004 that the full potential of the area around The Square was not realised 'as there is a lack of directional stability and insecurity due to the expanse of tarmacadam and the existing road pattern'. It was also noted there was a lack of definition for the movement of vehicular traffic and for pedestrian movement.

'To address the above shortcomings, Kilkenny County Council proposes to undertake a public realm enhancement and traffic management scheme within the core of the village. These works will complement the refurbishment of the monuments and metal work within the village green and the enhancement works in the green area along the River Nore. The realisation of these projects will further enhance the reputation of Inistioge as one of the finest villages in the south-east which, in turn, will make for a better living environment for the residents and help promote business and tourism in the area.'

Part funding for the project was secured via the Town and Village Renewal Scheme. The enhancement works at The Square and river area are also being funded under this scheme.

'Unfortunately, the available remaining grant funding is insufficient to cover the full scope of the works. Thus, it is proposed that elements of the proposal will be completed in a phased basis as funding becomes available. It is intended that priority will be given to the delineation of the R700 / High Street (L4216) junction in this regard,' a council spokesperson said.

The village has been the scene for many films like 'Circle of Friends,' 'Widow's Peak' and more recently 'The Secret Scripture'.

Mr Gilsenan - who runs the Inistioge.ie web and Facebook page, said producer of the latter production, Noel Pearson, has confirmed to him that he would be looking elsewhere if the changes go ahead. 'This has been on the cards for a while. There was a call for submissions last year. It's a very big piece of work which has been planned since early last year.'

He said there is not much local residents can do about the works now, adding that they could spell the end of the days of filming in the village, which has benefited massively financially over the years thanks to filming big productions there.

Mr Gilsenan said the appeal of Inistioge to filmmakers is its authenticity as it transports viewers back to early 1900s Ireland.

'Nigel Pearson is the foremost Irish film producer, having produced My Left Foot. He said there will be no more period movies filmed in Inistioge if the plan is implemented.'

He said many local residents were unaware of the plans.

'I'm worried that this thing will come along and it will be done and all the legal niceties have been covered. There will be truck loads of paving coming to Inistioge to the area in front of the church and the Millennium Garden.'

He said paving works will also be carried out between the road and the square in front of The Woodstock Arms.

'It will be granite paving which will have a heritage dimension, and there will be heritage lighting. The problem is with the raised paving.'

He said director Jim Sheridan used light gravel when filming The Secret Scripture to cover the ground.

'With this paving there is an enhancement element to it in order to force people to park in certain places. They are going to pave everywhere else.'

He acknowledged the need to address parking in the busy village, saying people park at the Millennium Garden.

'I can certainly see why people would ant to improve parking structures but this is overkill. It's a little like using a hammer to crack a nut. I just think Inistioge doesn't need to look like everywhere else.'

Similar works are being completed in nearby Thomastown.

'You always want to make little improvements with traffic but I am living there 18 years and we have had summer festivals and Christmas events and I have never witnessed any major traffic issues'

He said there are corners where traffic naturally slows down, adding that the works will remove some of the village's unique character.

'I urge everyone who loves the village to come and see it while they can before the works are done. This is a very big change to the landscape.'

He said the 18th century designed village is being changed through an engineering blueprint used throughout the country.

'It's very much an engineer's solution to something other people might have a view on. The county council are very quick to say welcome to the film village and now they are going to pave over it. The paving would be a total barrier to actors. They'd be tripping over it. It's 7in paving stone. You can hide a lot of things in a movie but you can't hide paving or regularised paths.'

In a submission to Kilkenny county Council last year, Mr Gilsenan spoke of people's extraordinary fascination with the beauty of the village and the surrounding area.

'It really is a special place for them. Many refer to the area's uniqueness, how it is different to other villages.'

A Kilkenny County Council spokesperson said there is no confirmed date for the start date for the works, adding that several funding streams are being sought for the works which will see high quality materials used and new lighting erected.


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