KING John’s Castle is set to close by October, creating up to 60 construction jobs, and re-open in April in time for the tourist season, Shannon Development has confirmed.
The State body has gone out to tender for 13 aspects of the €6m works, with the remaining contractors set to be appointed over the summer. “Everything is on track. It’s a big project in terms of complexity and scale, but this is a huge opportunity for Limerick. We’re very pleased with the design and people have been quietly working behind the scenes on this for a long time,” said Eoghan Prendergast, Shannon Development.
While the design process started last December led by the Northern Irish company Tandem Designers, they are now seeking expressions of interest from building contractors to complete works comprising demolition, construction, fit-out, as well as interpretive installations. It is intended that after the redevelopment, tourist numbers could be doubled to 80,000.
Mr Prendergast said they believe that this “exciting” project will “do Limerick justice” when it re-opens, and added that a number of international tour operators have been made aware of the development.
“We’re conscious that the castle should be as much of interest to Limerick people as it will be to someone from San Francisco. Not enough Limerick people have visited the castle, and there’s a huge amount of history literally under our feet that we forget about in the city. It will be of interest to everyone, and not a sterile, arms-length experience,” he said.
While the works were due to be complete this year in time for the castle’s 800th birthday, he said a high-profile opening is being planned for next year.
It will coincide with the redevelopment of the Howley’s Quay side of the river, with improvements made to the walkways around the river. “We really have to take advantage of our heritage and our proximity to the river Shannon,” he said.
As part of the development, visitors will be able to virtually sit on the banks of the River Shannon, and survey its history.
Another interactive river section will focus on the treatment of the Shannon’s water, and the effect climate change may have on its future.
Up to 14 jobs will be created in the castle in the long-term.