Multi-million euro plans have been unveiled to upgrade a historic castle and enhance recreational amenities in a North Cork town.
Cork County Council and its consultants, Brady Shipman Martin (BSM), have drawn up detailed plans for the upgrade of Mallow Castle, the Town Park, and walkways around the town, as well as upgrades of fishing amenities on the River Blackwater and plans for the restoration of the historic Spa House and its gardens.
The plans, and a progress report on what has been achieved to date, were unveiled to councillors at a meeting of the Kanturk/Mallow municipal district.
The council’s senior executive officer, Mary Hayes, said repairs to some of the stone walls on the castle grounds were now under way, as was resurfacing of the back-access drive. Repairs for the boundary wall between it and Spa House had been put out to tender.
Ms Hayes said the council had also gone out to tender for conservation consultants for the castle. However, she said conservation of the castle’s outbuildings would come before work on the castle itself.
The council has carried out surveys of trees in all the areas of the town it was planning to upgrade, Ms Hayes said. As a result, it would remove 327 trees in dangerous conditions, or of non-native species — 196 of them on the riverside walk and a further 111 in the town park.
In total, 556 trees are to be planted, all of which will be of native species. A wildlife meadow will also feature in the town park.
Part of the council’s ambitious plans focuses on creating a sports hub in the town park.
This will include the creation of a GAA pitch, rugby pitch, full-size and five-a-side soccer pitches, skateboard area, angling stands, a running track, and a walking trail.
The council also hopes to create a blueway for kayakers along a section of the River Blackwater close to the town and create a launch pad for them on the riverside at the town park.
Plans have also been drawn up for a new pedestrian bridge to connect it to the town centre, a coach parking area, and improved car parking.
Ms Hayes said that public consultation had already taken place on some elements of the plans and more would follow.
Labour councillor James Kennedy described the plans as “spectacular,” adding that there was also a need to upgrade the town’s Tipp O’Neill Park.
“It will have a huge, positive impact on the town,” Cllr Pat Hayes said.
Fine Gael councillor John Paul O’Shea said it would be “a significant game-changer not just for Mallow, but all of North Cork.”
He said the castle grounds were already attracting a number of visitors, and suggested that a mobile catering company should be deployed in the castle grounds from next April.
“We should tender now to get somebody to undertake this,” said Mr O’Shea. “That would draw in more people,”
Mr Moynihan said that was a great idea.
Ms Hayes said it was something they were considering.
It is likely the council will have to apply for a number of different funding streams to complete all its plans.
Fine Gael councillor Gerard Murphy maintained that a lot of grants could be applied for under the EU Peripheral Areas fund. He said there was considerable expertise within the Southern Regional Assembly which could
select what streams of funding could be accessed.