The future of Lea Castle in Portarlington is looking a little brighter, as a committee has been set up to complete a conservation report on the monument.
Almost 50 people recently attended a meeting in Portarlington to discuss the Heritage Council’s grant to begin the process of preparing a conservation plan for the castle.
The Heritage Council have given a grant of €8,000 to the committee, who will themselves be contributing €2,000 to the reports. As well as this, approximately €4,000 of benefit in kind work will be done over the next few months.
The conservation reports will be presented to the Heritage Council in November, but before that there is plenty of work to do, and wheels are already in motion on a number of different aspects of the report.
The committee of about 10 people has just been set up and already is looking into finding companies and groups to complete an ecological survey of the site, to complete a conservation report, to do a photographic report, and to do a historical survey.
David Orford of the Portarlington Arts and Heritage told the Leinster Express that stage one of the process is identifying what needs to be done.
“We are working with the landowner and have his permission. It is a well known landmark but is quite dangerous at the moment. It is hard to tell yet what needs to be done, there is so much vegetation, but parts of the structure are quite dangerous”.
He said that there is a lot of interest and support from people in the locality. He also outlined what had happened at nearby Coolbanagher Castle, which was destroyed by the violent storms recently, and stated that this is presents a strong case for safeguarding Lea castle for the future.
“There is a need for conservation work, and structures like these do need maintenance”.
The committee has plenty of expertise, and includes Laois County Council heritage officer Catherine Casey, as well as an architect, a conservation architect, an archeologist and historian, and some locals.