Minister opens new entrance to West Limerick heritage site

Gerard Fitzgibbon

Reporter:

Gerard Fitzgibbon

Minister of State Brian Hayes (left) receives a tour of the Desmond Castle, Newcastle West from Peter Byrne of the castle committee. Also pictured are Cathaoirleach Cllr Jerome Scanlan and Fine Gael TD Patrick O'Donovan
IT WOULD certainly have come in handy for the besieging Confederate army in 1641, but today a new rear entrance to the Desmond Castle in Newcastle West will be used for a far more prosperous end.

IT WOULD certainly have come in handy for the besieging Confederate army in 1641, but today a new rear entrance to the Desmond Castle in Newcastle West will be used for a far more prosperous end.

The new South Quay entrance to the medieval castle has been officially opened by Minister of State Brian Hayes, and it is now hoped that the extra access will entice more passing tourists to stop off in Newcastle West.

Mr Hayes, who is responsible for the Office of Public Works (OPW), unveiled the new entrance on Monday, and stated his belief that Newcastle West can now become a destination in itself.

“There are many thousands of domestic and foreign tourists that come to this region. There’s no reason why they can’t come here. I was here over a year ago or so, and I saw the potential of the Desmond Hall, not just for the people of Newcastle West, but for the people of the region. It is one of the most fantastic examples of halls and castles of the period.”

The work on the new entrance began following lobbying by a voluntary committee, made up of local business people, who are tasked with attracting more visitors to the 15th century castle and its restored banquet hall. A blocked-up old archway was reopened by the OPW and a new footpath was laid by Limerick County Council. The entrance was opened to the public at the end of May.

During his visit to Newcastle West this Monday, Mr Hayes also announced the creation of a new incubator hub space for start-up businesses at the Red Door gallery in The Square, which is to be government funded and run with support from Limerick Institute of Technology.

Peter Byrne, a member of the castle committee, said that the new entrance to the castle would help Newcastle West “make the most” of its famous heritage site.

“Most of the towns in Ireland would love to have an asset such as the Desmond Castle. We have, and we need to make the most of it. We need to use the castle to let people know that Newcastle West is a fine town to visit,” he said.

Mr Byrne also thanked the OPW for the “fantastic” restoration work on the banquet hall.