The €500,000 development of Donaghmore’s famine workhouse and museum could provide jobs.
Cllr Brendan Phelan has asked county manager Peter Carey to consider local workers, while adhering to EU rules on tenders.
“It will be a very labour intensive project. There are a lot of skilled tradespeople and stonemasons around there, I hope they will be given due consideration when the work starts. It’s a big spend in a small area” he said.
The project is due to start in 2013, with a grant from Laois Partnership, matched by funds from Laois County Council’s collected development levies. Tender docucuments are currently being drawn up, and local architects McCarthy O’Hora are in place as the designers.
“Whoever is successful with the tender, I would certainly encourage them to use local craftsmen,” Mr Carey said.
He praised the Donaghmore community for maintaining the workhouse and the farming museum, at one stage used by the Black and Tans as a barracks.
“I would encourage anybody who hasn’t been there to go down.
“The locals have safeguarded this asset on a shoestring. It has tremendous potential as a tourist attraction,” he said.
Cllr Ray Cribbin credited the late Senator Kieran Phelan for Donaghmore’s safekeeping.
“All this came about through him. No sight should be lost of that. His portrait should be hanging in Donaghmore,” he said.