Two of Laois’ top tourist attractions were visited by Brian Hayes TD, Minister of State at the Office of Public Works last Thursday, 21 February. Minister Hayes planted an evergreen oak tree at Heywood Gardens but at Emo Court heard of the need for money to restore the gardens and build a playground.
Two major restoration projects planned for Emo are the Wellingtonia Avenue, and the lakeside walk, both of which need OPW funding.
“It will take a substantial amount of money to develop these, that was the reason for our meeting, to encourage the Minister to put funding into Emo, and he was very much interested,” said Cllr Tom Mulhall, who together with TD Charlie Flanagan and Laois County Manager Peter Carey, met the Minister in Emo.
Dep Charlie Flanagan told the minister of the huge tourist potential of Emo Court, which is says is now Laois’ top tourist attraction.
“The recent Fr Brown exhibition in Emo Court House saw record numbers visit the grounds last year.
Minister Hayes briefed us regarding future developments and was hopeful that the circular walkway around the lake would be progressed this year.
He also viewed Wellingtonia Avenue and said that he was committed to continuing the improvement works,” Dep Flanagan said.
Cllr Mulhall told the minister of the urgent need for a playground, both for local children, and for visitors.
While a definite site for the playground has not yet been agreed, Cllr Mulhall says the OPW will build one in the forested grounds of Emo Court.
“I was pleased with the discussions with Minister Hayes and especially the fact that a site for the playground has been confirmed by the OPW. It will be an adventure playground, in a style to suit the surroundings, out of sight of the house,” he said.
Over in Heywood, The Minister described the formal gardens as a “magnificent hidden jewel in the crown” of Ireland’s great historic gardens.
“I would like to see them actively promoted as a niche tourist attraction and local recreation facility.
“I am glad to say that OPW is committed to maintaining high standards in the Gardens and will also work closely with Laois County Council to further develop facilities at the site,” he said.
to mark the centenary of the completion of the Gardens by the renowned architect and landscape gardener, Sir Edwin Lutyens.
“I have no doubt, that when visitors come to these wonderful gardens, that they are transported back to the wonderful designs of Sir Lutyens which have been maintained to such a high standard by OPW. In addition to the new tree-planting programme being undertaken, the OPW is currently developing plans to enhance the overall visitor experience at the gardens and I am delighted that this tree will commemorate the legacy of Lutyens for all to enjoy,” he said.