Thursday 19 April 2018

Master plan being prepared for Avondale revamp

Myles Buchanan

Cooney Architects are working on preparing a master plan to redevelop Avondale House and Forest Park.

The 500-acre amenity is owned by Coillte, while Failte Ireland have big plans to make Avondale House and Forest Park a key feature of the Ireland's Ancient East marketing initiative.

Speaking at last week's meeting of Wicklow County Council, Patrick Murphy of Cooney Architects, said the process was still at its early stages having only started in June, but it is hoped to have a planning application forwarded toward the end of the year.

Historians will also be involved in drawing up the master plan to ensure everything is historically accurate.

Avondale House is the birthplace of Charles Stewart Parnell. The estate was sold to the Government in 1904 and was used as a forestry school.

Cllr Pat Kennedy, who lives nearby to Avondale in Rathdrum, said the whole development had generated a lot of interest.

'This won't just put Avondale on the map, it will put the whole east coast on the map. We recently constructed a 1.5 km path from the town to Avondale, which should help to enhance the experience,' said Cllr Kennedy.

Cllr Miriam Murphy felt it was great to see such a development taking place in Co Wicklow, while also proposing that people with disabilities are also consulted about any future plans.

Cllr John Ryan recalled meeting the CEO of Coillte in 2014 to discuss plans for the project.

'You have nearly every tree species in the world planted down there. You could create something very special.

'I know at one stage there was talk of tree top walkways and actually being able to sleep in the tree tops.'

While Cllr Mary Kavanagh described herself as a regular visitor to the forest park, she had reservations about a planned interpretative centre.

'I think Avondale is a little jewel or a little oasis. I am delighted it is going to be developed. It's great not only for Rathdrum, but also for Wicklow in general.

'However, sometimes interpretative centres can be overdone to such an extent they actually lose their charm. I see that with the Cliffs of Moher, which used to be a great experience but now it is a bit clinical and has lost much of its charm.'

Wicklow People