Heritage plan is last hope for city wall

I WAS delighted with the major conservation plan that the Heritage Council has announced to preserve what remains of the old city wall of Kilkenny.

Action was long overdue to hold the line against the effects of erosion and deterioration, not to mention the attention of property developers.

The loss of so much of the city wall, a great defensive structure that dates to the 13th century, happened under the noses of self-serving politicians and bureaucrats who never tired of trumpeting their dedication to the city and county.

The building of a hotel beside John’s Bridge in Kilkenny effectively wiped out the line of the old town defences.

And a concrete car park on Pennyfeather Lane has become a grotesque monument to the downside of so-called progress.

This devilish blot on the streetscape exceeds in height some of the tallest buildings in the city.

The car park has turned a large section of the city into something resembling a nightmare scene from the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch.

Tax breaks granted to developers have a lot to answer for. The idea behind them was fine - to breathe life back into neglected and decayed inner city regions - but developers exploited the planning regulations instead to inflict large-scale property developments on Kilkenny, decimating vulnerable heritage sites.

The Heritage Council’s initiative may go some way towards salvaging the tattered remnants of Kilkenny’s proud and colourful past. This eleventh hour rescue mission will hopefully prevent the city wall from sharing the fate of Mullingar Workhouse and Dublin’s Wood Quay.

But if the developers are not reined in, Kilkenny, along with other cities and towns, will be lucky not to lose a great deal more of their precious links with yesteryear.

We must ensure that our politicians, local and national, do not renege on their commitment to safeguard our heritage.

We will have only ourselves to blame if the walls of the past come tumbling down.

John Fitzgerald

Lower Coyne Street

Callan

Co Kilkenny

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