A MAJOR announcement is expected to be made on the plans for King John’s Castle in the coming days, amid confusion this week about contractors appointed to the €6m plans.
The Northern Irish company Patton, which has now gone into administration with mounting debts, disclosed on their website last month that they had won the contract to carry out the exhibition fit-out for the 13th century castle.
However, a spokesperson for Shannon Development said that while this company tendered for the works, they did not receive the contract, nor was any contract signed.
The representative could not explain how this announcement was made on Patton’s site, where it appears on two posts.
“This scheme represents part of the strategic plan to design and deliver a large scale tourism visitor attraction for the Shannon Region,” Patton stated in one entry.
The long-awaited redevelopment of the castle – the second by Shannon Development – was due to be completed this year in time for the castle’s 800th birthday, but that milestone will now be celebrated a year late.
In January Limerick architectural firm Healy and Partners were appointed to the project, while Tandem Design from Co Down won the award for interpretive design for the castle. The last remaining contractor was due to be appointed in recent weeks, but has not been formally announced by the State body.
Eoghan Prendergast of Shannon Development previously told this newspaper that works at the castle are due to create up to 60 construction jobs over the coming months, and that up to 14 jobs will be created in the long-term.
An earlier timeline for the works anticipated that the castle would re-open in April next year.
It is intended that after the redevelopment will double tourist numbers to 80,000.
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.
Mr Prendergast said that this is an “exciting” project, which 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.”