Convert Charleville Castle to residential use – An Taisce

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ger.scully@tullamoretribune.ie

JUST two weeks after a hit band recorded its new video in Charleville Castle, the neo-Gothic structure in Tullamore has been included in a top ten of the buildings most at risk in Ireland.

Walking On Cars, an Irish band which is about to embark on a major European tour, used the castle to record the video for their latest single, ‘Monster’.

The production is the most recent in a long line of videos, movies and dramas shot at Charleville Castle, a list which includes the feature film ‘Becoming Jane’ and the TV series ‘The Tudors’.

The castle, former residence of the Bury family, was completed in 1812 and is now under the care of the Charleville Castle Heritage Trust, which is headed up by Dudley Stewart.

The trust says it has arrested the decline of the building and aims to continue a sustainable restoration project there, while keeping it open to the public.

It has been home to an annual rock festival, Castlepalooza, for a number of years and regularly hosts arts events.

However, this week An Taisce, the heritage trust, included Charleville Castle in a new ‘Top 10 at risk’ list for 2019.

“These are all buildings of national importance, buildings that lie vacant and are in such a state of disrepair that they may be dangerous or have no identifiable new use,” said An Taisce.

“These buildings could be lost to future generations unless direct action is taken soon to preserve them.”

An Taisce describes Charleville Castle as “the most significant Gothic revival Irish house of the early 19th century”. The castle and stable yard, which were designed by Francis Johnston and after the death of the famous explorer, Charles Howard-Bury, in 1963, the castle became uninhabited.

It fell into disrepair but An Taisce does acknowledge that “large parts of the castle have since been restored”.

But it says the stable yard and the chapel have fallen into “advanced dereliction”.

“The folly tower is poorly maintained and other buildings in the demesne are vacant. This group of structures are of national and international importance; but it is the castle stables, in particular, that urgently need attention and a long-term strategic plan,” said An Taisce.

It recommends residential or community use for the castle.

The other properties on the ‘top ten’ are Atkins Hall, Cork; Carrickglass Demesne, Carrigglass, Co. Longford; Carstown House, Carstown, Co Louth; Cassidy’s Distillery, Monasterevin, Co Kildare; Castle Saunderson, Co Cavan; Castlehyde Church, Castlehyde, Co Cork; Claremount, Claremorris, Co Mayo; Iveagh Markets, Dublin 8 and the Sacred Heart Secondary School in Roscrea.

“Given the critical homeless situation in the country, some of these heritage buildings could be restored to provide affordable housing for families and individuals,” said An Taisce.

A spokesperson for Charleville Castle was unavailable at time of writing.

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