Plans are underway for a transformation of Durrow’s pretty village green, with hopes of making the ‘scarecrow village’ one of Laois’ major tourist attractions.
‘Olde world’ style street furniture similar to that in Abbeyleix is part of the extensive plan, costing between €0.5 and €0.7 million. It is hoped that most of the cost will be covered by a grant from Laois Partnership, under the Urban Renewal Scheme.
The project is being undertaken by Laois County Council, in association with Durrow Development Forum, and is on display to the public in County Hall until January 4 2013, after which it will go before councillors for approval, and then to Laois Partnership for grant approval.
The small village is making a name for itself as a tourist destination, hosting many successful events including the Scarecrow festival. 13,000 people from across the country attended this year’s festival, and the profit will go some way towards the €30,000 which the Forum must raise as their contribution to the upgrade.
Chairperson Evelyn Clancy says they hope to see the work completed by the summer.
“We have met with the council, the National Roads Authority, Laois Partnership and some councillors, everybody wants it done. We hope it will be ready before the Scarecrow Festival, which is a big event in Laois now,” she said.
Heritage style lights will be installed in the green and on Patrick Street. Overhead wires will be buried underground and traditional benches, bins and flowerpots will complete the ‘times past’ look.
Traffic management and calming is a big part of the plan, as the Cork Road (formerly N8) bisects the green. Haphazard parking on the grass during school times will be a thing of the past, as limestone kerbing, cobbled parking spaces and a path will be installed right around the green. A one way system will be enforced and the road from Our Lady’s Meadow NS to Londis will be cobblelocked. Bus stops, bus, car and bicyle parking will be added and pedestrian crossings will be upgraded.
“The school had a big input, as did business people, we had a lot of public consultation ove the past year. We had a heritage impact study to make sure this is in line with the heritage of Durrow. The NRA had a huge input into parking also,” the Chairperson said.
A Tree Survey has identified three of the oldest trees for removal, to facilitate road widening and parking. A sewer is also being laid on the AIB side of the green.
“Hopefully it will make the village more picturesque and improve tourism, which will help business. It lasted like this for 300 years, hopefully this work will last another 300,” Ms Clancy said.