The first phase of a project aimed at turning a castle in Co Cork into a tourist attraction will commence early next year.
Cork County Council — which purchased Mallow Castle a couple of years ago from the McGinn family of Washington DC — is preparing to upgrade the amenity over three phases.
County engineer David Keane said that the first phase will concentrate on improving access to the 1598-built castle, and its 33 acres of gardens and parkland.
Phase one will also involve resurfacing and paving the entrance and avenue along with the erection of bollards and new lighting.
The walled garden will be opened and the folly will be refurbished.
It has also been proposed that a cycleway be created within the grounds while a detailed archaeological impact assessment is being undertaken in advance of a any planned works.
It is hoped the opening of the formal gardens will lead to “social activities developing on the site” which will draw in locals and tourists alike.
The county council believes the formal gardens are an ideal location for public and private events.
Mr Keane told councillors from the Northern division that other improvements could be done relatively cheaply during the second phase.
However, refurbishing the castle would be costly and was likely to be put on hold for a few years until the economy improved.
Cork County Council purchased the castle in December 2010 for a reported knockdown price of €1.7m.
Five years earlier, it had an asking price of €7m.
Martin Riordan, the then county manager, saw a bargain and the potential to turn it in a tourist attraction — similar to Lismore Castle in Co Waterford or Cahir Castle in Co Tipperary.
The castle has 12 bedrooms, and eight social rooms which encompass a library, a music room, a billiards room, a drawing room and a portrait room.
It also has 10 bathrooms as well as storerooms, a wine cellar, and several garages.
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