Desmond Castle, Askeaton
A LOCAL councillor has called for more workers to be installed at Askeaton’s historic Desmond Castle to speed up restoration works by the Office of Public Works.
Works on the castle in the medieval town started a decade ago, said Fianna Fáil’s Kevin Sheahan.
The castle dates back to 1199, and is believed to have been built by William de Burgo. The castle became the seat of the Earls of Desmond, who built a banqueting hall alongside it.
There is also a Hellfire Club from the 1700s beside the castle.
“It is one of the most attractive tourist items of interest in west Limerick,” said Cllr Sheahan.
“We were all overjoyed when the OPW began a programme of refurbishment over 10 years ago. At that time, the expectation was that the entire programme would take 12-13 years.
“The standard of works done to date deserves a very positive comment. The stonework that has been completed looks magnificent,” added Cllr Sheahan.
“The problem is that when the crew of workers first moved in to the site, there were 14 to 15 people working there. Now we are down to three or four. This will result in the work not being completed for another 15 years,” he said.
Since the refurbishment programme began, there have been restrictions on the site to facilitate the works.
“The necessary restrictions to access this site will continue to remain in force. This is a significant impediment to local tourism,” said Cllr Sheahan.
Tourists to the town visit the castle on a regular basis, often with local tour guide Anthony Sheehy.
“I am calling on the chief executive of Limerick City and County Council, Conn Murray, to make representations to the OPW and to the relevant minister to recruit the necessary workforce to have this programme of works completed within the agreed timeframe,” said Cllr Sheahan.
Sinn Féin’s Cllr Ciara McMahon suggested that when the OPW are recruiting stonemasons, that they should employ three to four apprentice stonemasons, as it is a skill that is sadly in decline.