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Duo set to get started on Tara Studios ‘as soon as possible’

"We will be looking to recruit locally as much as possible, whether that's your budding actor, people in the industry living locally, along with the unskilled"

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John Gleeson, director of Tara Studios, pictured at Borleagh Manor last weekend

John Gleeson, director of Tara Studios, pictured at Borleagh Manor last weekend

Borleagh House will stay intact during the development of the film studios

Borleagh House will stay intact during the development of the film studios

The plan for Tara Studios, which will be built around Borleagh Manor in Inch

The plan for Tara Studios, which will be built around Borleagh Manor in Inch

John Gleeson

John Gleeson

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John Gleeson, director of Tara Studios, pictured at Borleagh Manor last weekend

The two men behind Tara Studios are keen to get started on the project of constructing film studios at Borleagh Manor in Inch as soon as they can.

While Ivan Dunleavy and John Gleeson acknowledge there's still a way to go in the process, they say they have been greatly encouraged by the public's reaction to their plan.

Based at Borleagh Manor in Inch, Tara Studios received planning permission at the end of January for seven studio stages, ten workshops, two office buildings and a security building. There will also be landscaping on site to include mature trees for visual screening, the creation of a 430-space car park and a 2.4 metre high security fence.

Wexford County Council's planning report reveals that there were ten submissions in the process, both positive and negative. Some people expressed concern about road access and traffic, the zoning of land, noise pollution, water supply and wastewater as well as general waste. Others focused on the historical context of Borleagh Manor.

The report outlined that, after a traffic impact assessment, the site has capacity even at peak construction (during the first three months of a 12-month plan), which would see 120 construction staff. Following this, at peak employment there would be 630 staff, including 200 extras, and there was also capacity for this.

The planner noted that the development would have a significant negative impact on the setting of Borleagh House, including the view to and from the house, but that this would be an acceptable compromise for the economic impact the project would make.

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Ivan Dunleavy

Ivan Dunleavy

Ivan Dunleavy

The report stipulates that an archaeologist must be employed throughout the development to conserve the heritage of the site.

As access to the Coolgreany Water treatment plant was denied, one of the conditions of the planning report is that Tara Studios must enter an agreement with Irish Water to develop a public sewer themselves.

Ivan Dunleavy and John Gleeson have welcomed the report, describing the conditions as 'perfectly sensible'.

'We're keen to start as soon as we possibly can. There is still a bit of a process that we have to go through yet but we've been enormously encouraged by the support and positive reaction from the local and county community, as well as on a national level.

'We had thought about all of the issues up front but that's not to say we hadn't missed something but the conditions that the council have stipulated are perfectly sensible and we just have to figure out the right and the best solutions,' said Mr Dunleavy.

On the issue of a green approach to the site, something emphasised in a submission from Kilanerin Sustainable Energy Community, Mr Dunleavy said that there would be electric vehicle charge points in the car park.

'As a whole, the film industry prides itself on its green credentials and we will be looking at energy saving and alternative forms of energy provision. In our construction effort, we'll want to make sure that is as green as we can make it.

'If you ask anyone at Pinewood studios, they will tell you that I absolutely hate polystyrene cups, and I intend to make a rule that people bring their own reusable cup in. We'll be discouraging the big 4X4 and encouraging electric and hybrid vehicles'.

He also pointed out that, due to the long term nature of production, vehicles are likely to be more permanent fixtures.

'Car transport is going to be the majority solution because of the location at Borleagh, but we will certainly be doing car sharing but we will have a greener transport plan in mind.

'Film vehicles, whether they're lighting, camera or the star trailers, they actually don't go in and out that much. They come in once and they sit there for a few months so it is more about the people coming in than it is about articulated lorries going up and down the road. Of course there will be some of that, but what we will want to do about waste and recycling, we want to separate waste into its component categories so that we don't have those kind of lorry trips on the roads'.

Mr Gleeson explained that preserving the house and celebrating its history will be key to Tara Studios - something that was highlighted in the planning report.

'We will be preserving the house itself and the immediate surroundings of it and we will be respectful to it and that will come in to everything that we do from the project's perspective.

'The centre living area around the house is being preserved, we've put an invisible cordon around the house and there will be no development of that.

'There are two sets of stables, walled gardens, tennis court, arboretum and gardens at the front, so all of that is going to be left intact and the house itself will be left intact. There's a big history to Borleagh that extends well beyond Richard Greene, and our intention is to celebrate that history and we've a plan to do research, and celebrate it in all of its different stages'.

Mr Dunleavy said that involving the community will be important on every level.

'We'll want to be talking to Screen Wexford and the Wexford arts community, like the festivals. We can benefit from them and they can benefit from us, so I see that as a mutual win.

'For your budding actor, the productions would want to make those decisions - young people wanting to come in to the industry, it's like any other business you can start at the bottom and work your way up. When you see the credits at the end of a movie, it just shows that the skills are really diverse and there will be a lot of opportunity for everybody. Whether this is at the studio or outside the studio gate, time will tell.

'The opportunity for young people will be to be runners and get the familiarity with productions, that's a huge plus and we'd certainly want to encourage it. It goes alongside training, and we look forward to working with the local further and higher education colleges and institutions to make sure that there is training and re-skilling for all age groups. There are opportunities to become the next big director or award winning actor, whatever your skillsets are and as always it's about application as much as it about training'.

Mr Gleeson said that there will be direct and indirect jobs, such as the day-to-day running of Tara Studios with full time staff at Borleagh Manor, as well as working for visiting production companies.

'We we will seek to recruit locally as much as possible, whether that is people in the industry who live in the Gorey area who don't want to have the commute to other studios as well as local unskilled work, such as extra work, along with jobs for local people should they choose to skill up and get involved in a career in film and TV'.

He said that there would knock-on demands also, including catering, taxis, hotels and other services.

Mr Dunleavy said that the intention is to add significantly to the film infrastructure that is currently available in Ireland.

'Just in terms of physical presence, clearly it's going to add significantly but we hope to attract more and bigger shows than are currently being produced. They say that a rising tide lifts all boats and you get this momentum, then everybody benefits.

'As more people become aware of what is available in Ireland, you'll get more enquiries and therefore more job opportunities and we've seen this in any country when a film studios has been developed'.

A spokesperson for Screen Wexford said that having a studio of this kind in the county was a major step forward.

'The new facility will be state of the art and include seven sound stages along with supporting buildings on the 160-acre site and is a significant new contribution to the Irish film industry.

'This is a key vote of confidence for Wexford and its up and coming film industry, both for jobs directly in the sector and also for ancillary employment and tourism. Screen Wexford is delighted to welcome Tara Studios and looks forward to working closely with their management team to help attract film and television production to the county, and to develop and support local talent and enterprise with local jobs in the support and construction industries.

'Despite the pandemic, the global film and television industry has experienced substantial growth in the last number of years. Screen Wexford sees that the region can continue to benefit from this trend through the expansion of infrastructure and facilities.'

Wexford People


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