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Red tape threatens development of ‘Grade A’ tourist amenity

INSURANCE hurdles stand in the way of the development of another “Grade A” tourism product for the Loop Head Peninsula, members of the West Clare Municipal District have heard.

Addressing the January meeting of the committee, which took place online, Councillor Cillian Murphy appealed to the authority to consider taking a newly-created access path into Carrigaholt Castle under its public insurance policy, issued by Irish Public Bodies Mutual Insurances (IPB). The Fianna Fáil members commended the work of the local heritage group who had secured funding for the access route and noted that the insurance for public amenities is a recurring issue of concern.

“The community group there have done some Trojan work,” he noted. “It’s taken them a long, long time to get to the bottom of ownership and to get permission from the owners to allow work. They’ve got significant funding from The Heritage Council and it’s the end of a long road, if you’ll pardon the pun, to get this access into a phenomenal heritage asset. We’ve got an access path and they’ve created some great information boards, so it really is shovel-ready for us, but again we’re back to insurance. So, public money has allowed the opening up of this amazing asset. It’s going to ensure its protection into the future, but we’re back to insurance blocking the way.

Acknowledging a response from Senior Executive Officer (SEO) John O’Malley, who explained that Covid restrictions had prevent council staff from going to inspect the area, Councillor Murphy appealed to the authority to lend its support.

“I would be really hoping that we could do something for the village and, indeed, for ourselves,” he said. “Once this thing gets up and running, there’s a real opportunity here for a Grade A heritage product to add to all the others we have in West Clare.”

Cathaoirleach Joe Garrihy commended Mr O’Malley for being prepared to engage with the community on the matter. “It’s great to see us, as a council, getting involved in these areas,” he said. “It’s very good to see us engaging with these things and fair play, John, being prepared to engage with people and have the conversation.”

Carrigaholt Castle is understood to have been built in around 1480 by the McMahon clan, and is a five-storey tower house. The building is located at the end of the fishing pier in the village and overlooks the Shannon Estuary. The last inhabitants of the castle were the Burton family who left it at the end of the 19th century. The ruined castle is no longer open to the public and is in the care of the Office of Public Works (OPW).

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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