Works to upgrade King John’s Castle are delayed

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

KING John’s castle is to celebrate its 800th birthday a year late - as it was feared construction works over the summer months would impact negatively on tourist numbers to the city attraction.

KING John’s castle is to celebrate its 800th birthday a year late - as it was feared construction works over the summer months would impact negatively on tourist numbers to the city attraction.

Mayor of Limerick, Cllr Jim Long, said he will be seeking answers from the State body in charge of the multi-million euro project and described the delay as “disappointing”.

The Government had allocated €5.7m last year for major works at the 13th century castle.

However, the castle will have to wait another year for its big makeover, even though the design team was appointed this January.

A plan has been drawn up to enlarge the castle’s exhibition areas and re-establish it as a major tourism landmark with money allocated by Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar.

It is intended that after the redevelopment tourist numbers could be doubled to 80,000.

Shannon Development had secured funding for the proposed development from Fáilte Ireland and the Department of Tourism.

“We are well under way with the planning of the project,” said John Crowe, of Shannon Development.

“But King John’s Castle is such an important icon for the tourism industry in Limerick, we did not want to have it closed for the main tourism season.

“With the way the timing was going on the project we would have had to close the castle for the early part of this year.

“So what we have decided is to make the castle open for all the 2012 season and we will be shutting it around September or October to have it up and running for the 2013 season.”

As part of the forthcoming development, visitors will be able to virtually sit on the banks of the River Shannon, and survey the rich history of Ireland’s longest river.

As part of the exhibition - named The Currents of History’ - an interactive river section will focus on the treatment of the Shannon’s water, and the effect climate change may have on its future.

Local architectural firm Healy & Partners on Glentworth Street - who were behind the award-wining transformation of the Milk Market - have scooped the contract, along with other specialist firms.