THE custodian of Charleville Castle said he agrees with An Taisce that the stables on the site are at risk.
Dudley Stewart, Charleville Castle Heritage Trust, was reacting to the inclusion of the castle by An Taisce in its new ‘top 10’ list of buliding most at risk in Ireland.
He said he had raised the issue “as early as 20 years ago” but could get acceptance that there should be an intervention.
Mr Stewart said volunteers had worked “24/7/365” to keep vandals at bay and had dowsed seven “serious fires” with the help of the fire brigade over the years.
“We would willingly save the stables as a hostel or craftworks for Offaly” he said, or a combination of both.
He said the Charleville Castle Heritage Trust is a company limited by guarantee, not for profit, and run be volunteer professionals, both local and international.
“Our work has been highly praised but until we can intervene to save the stables we must concentrate on the main castle building,” said Mr Stewart.
In their comment on Charleville Castle, An Taisce, the national heritage trust, recommended community or heritage use for the building.
An Taisce described Charleville Castle as “the most significant Gothic revival Irish house of the early 19th century”.
The castle and stable yard were designed by Francis Johnston but became uninhabited after the death of the famous explorer Charles Howard-Bury in 1963
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.
Dudley Stewart and his family, with the help of volunteers, have preserved large parts of the castle and have kept it open to the public.
It hosts the Castlepalooza music festival each year and has been chosen as a location for numerous film, TV and video productions, including the feature film ‘Becoming Jane’ and the TV series ‘The Tudors’.