Castleisland Castle Conservation Management Report – An Update

In August, Minister for Education, Norma Foley, TD visited the team at the Castleisland Castle site. With Minister Foley on the occasion were: Marie O’Sullivan, project spokesperson; Bill Keane, Clarkbond Structural Engineers, London; Cllr. Fionnán Fitzgerald, Cathaoirleach of the Castleisland Corca Dhuibhne Municipal District; Rob McGuire, Castle of the Island Society founder; Robert Greer, masonry expert; Mary O’Connell, MOC Architects, Killarney and Tom McCarthy, Castle of the Island Society secretary. ©Photograph: John Reidy 23-8-2021
Rob McGuire (left) on the site of Castleisland Castle on which he has devoted so much energy and time. On the other side of the just published and on sale brochure is Castleisland native and UK based William Keane of Clarkebond, London.

In the course of last summer an international multidisciplinary team led by Castleisland native, William Keane, Clarkebond, London, had been engaged to compile a conservation management report on Castleisland Castle.

The work was carried out at the behest of Robert McGuire and the Castle of the Island Society and it was funded through the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Community Monument Fund 2021.

Meanwhile, all the consultants: Dr Michael Connolly, County Archaeologist, Kerry County Council; Mary O’Connell, Conservation Architect, Killarney; Robert Greer, Specialist Masonry Consultant; PAYE, London, Minogue and Associates, Environmental Consultants,Tuamgraney, County Clare; David Whelan Enterprises, Leixlip, County Kildare and Marie O’Sullivan, Archaeologist, Farranfore have all embraced the project with a sense of commitment.

Fruits Of Collective Labour

The fruits of their collective labour lie in a 486-page Conservation Management Report which has just been lodged with the appropriate authority for review, consideration and hopefully further funding.

Speaking on behalf of the team, Bill Keane said he would like to thank Robert McGuire, the Castle

of the Island Society and Kerry County Council for the privilege in being able to actively

contribute and assist, both the local community and the county’s desire to preserve the remaining physical Desmond Castle ruins for future generations.

Vanished Castle Stone Walls

Mr. Keane said that the historic significance of the castle remains strong in Castleisland today in how the vanished castle stone walls now form the stone walls to many of the town’s surviving older housing stock, primarily those fronting its famous Main Street and the adjacent primary streets.”

“It is particularly fortuitous,” he said, “that the findings have been compiled just as it was recently reported that Castleisland Chamber Alliance is promoting a new marketing and branding campaign which will bring a revitalised approach to local retail, businesses, tourism and heritage takeholders.”

“It is The Castle of the Island Society’s goal to work in tandem with the Chamber of Alliance in reviving and promoting Castleisland.

Plans for Visitor Centre

It is understood that the chamber intends to be instrumental in the opening of a visitor centre, in one of the buildings on the town’s Main Street, which amongst other things would showcase the Castle and its history.

“This ambition is closely aligned to Kerry County Council’s hopes and aspirations for the town as outlined in the County Development Plan 2022-2028, which states that investment in towns such as

Castleisland will manifest itself through regeneration, public realm improvements and the appropriate adaptation and re-use of our built heritage.

Creating a Sense of Place

“This will create a sense of place offering a retail and tourism experience enabling the settlements to compete with larger settlements and online challenges.

“The town has traditionally been regarded as the ‘Gateway to Kerry’, from Limerick and further afield. In times past, it was the first Kerry town that those travelling southwards on the N21, encountered.

“Unfortunately and primarily due to traffic congestion Castleisland was bypassed in 2008. It is hoped that through highlighting the significance of the castle, that new visitors will be encourage to detour into Castleisland, which obviously would be hugely significant in economic terms.

Generating Revenue

“As increased footfall, would generate much-needed revenue for the town’s businesses.

The society also hopes that by raising local awareness of the castle and its history, particularly amongst young people that ‘pride of place’ will be re-ignited.

This ultimately could only be beneficial in both social and economic terms.

“The drafting of the conservation management report has been the first step towards achieving all of these goals.

A Journey Through Time

A publication entitled Castleisland Castle: A Journey Through Time, which was published by Robert McGuire earlier in 2021 is available to purchase in various outlets in Castleisland at €5 per copy. All proceeds from the sales go to The Castle of the Island Society,

Robert McGuire, the Castle of the Island Society and the conservation management report team, would like to express their gratitude to the landholders on whose properties the three surviving fragments of Castleisland Castle stand for providing access to the remains and for their ongoing support of the project.

Team’s Total Commitment

In conclusion Robert McGuire said that despite the limited available funding in these challenging times the team’s total commitment to delivering a comprehensive report is reflected in the quality of the report.

“The potential of the report offers an assurance that the Castle of the Island continues to preside over the town named in its honour for many centuries to come,” said Robert.

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