Emo Court in Laois became more popular than ever during the pandemic for local walkers, new figures reveal.
The Office of Public Works has currently closed off one of the most popular walks, the lakeside trail, for essential path repairs.
The big house and its gardens got a whopping third of a million visitors in 2020, despite Laois being closed for visitors for some six months of the year.
The high volume of local visitors to the free gardens literally wore out the paths.
The lake pathway was closed last Friday and will remain closed until mid June. An OPW spokesperson explained what repairs they are doing.
"The pathway along the side of the lake is currently being resurfaced because the previous surface had deteriorated through wear and tear. This is the start of a series of improvements to the path surfaces at Emo Court that will be undertaken as funding becomes available."
The path upgrade is costing €25,000.
"It is part of the OPW commitment to preserve the Estate through ongoing repair and maintenance. This project will contribute to the top quality presentation of the site and should be completed within the next four weeks," the OPW say.
Their local visitor numbers grew last year, as Laois people turned to the great outdoors on their doorsteps to boost their physical and mental health during the Covid pandemic and lockdowns.
"In 2020 we had 330,000 visitors to Emo. The popularity of the site is very encouraging and OPW are currently in the process of developing a Conservation Management Plan that will identify the required work for the Estate for decades to come," the OPW said.
In 2019 the amenity had 390,481 visitors including locals and tourists. These figures do not include the many people who come to walk and run in Emo Woods which are owned by Coillte.
The Office of Public Works is adding another permanant carpark to Emo Court this year, replacing the temporary overflow carpark on the grass.
"Later in 2021 we intend to have improved car parking in place with the provision of new and improved parking facilities at the site.
"These are exciting times for Emo Court and OPW looks forward to making the upgraded facilities available to the public as soon as possible," the spokesperson said.
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.