Call to help landowners to save Laois castles from falling down

Lynda Kiernan

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Lynda Kiernan

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news@leinsterexpress.ie

Call to help landowners to save Laois castles from falling down

Storm damage resulted in the demolition of Coolbanagher Castle

Historic Laois castles on private land could be saved if landowners are given grants to stop them falling down, according to a Laois councillor.

Cllr Tom Mulhall made the call at a recent meeting of Laois County Council.

“These important archaelogical sites are the heritage of all the people of the state and the owners are bound by the Monuments Acts to protect these sites,” he said at the October council meeting.

He believes there are about 30 castles and towers around Laois that need protection.

“The issue is they are on private land. These architectural sites are part of our history, but if anything goes wrong and the deteriorate they could blow down in the weather we had recently,” he said.

He noted the loss of Coolbanagher Castle near Emo that partially fell during Storm Darwin in 2014, and was then knocked by the landowner.

“The ball finished in the owner’s court there, he had to deal with it. A huge chunk blew down and the owner hired a contractor and put it up into one big pile of stones. That was the finish, It was 800 or 900 years old,” Cllr Mulhall recalled.

“Who’s going to bear the brunt? If we don’t take some measures, old castles will be done away with, we must provide funding to make them safe,” he said.

He noted Morette Castle near to his Emo home.

“It is a feature, the same with Lea Castle in Portarlington, we need to ask Heather Humphries to come up with a plan to keep them intact,” Cllr Mulhall said.

Laois County Council has sent a request to Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphries, asking her to consider funding, for the owners of tower houses.