Duncannon Fort's potential uncovered

By david looby

Published 11/06/2016 | 00:00

At the announcement of the Duncannon Fort Conservation Plan in the Tholsel were Abraham Dunne, Executive Engineer Wexford County Council; Emmet Stafford Archaeologist; Catherine Mc Loughlin Archaeologist; John Carley Director of Services, Sinead Casey New Ross Municipal District Manager; Cllr Martin Murphy outgoing chairman of the Duncannon Fort committee and Anthony Bailey Company Secretary.
At the announcement of the Duncannon Fort Conservation Plan in the Tholsel were Abraham Dunne, Executive Engineer Wexford County Council; Emmet Stafford Archaeologist; Catherine Mc Loughlin Archaeologist; John Carley Director of Services, Sinead Casey New Ross Municipal District Manager; Cllr Martin Murphy outgoing chairman of the Duncannon Fort committee and Anthony Bailey Company Secretary.

THE future of Duncannon Fort as a tourism attraction was discussed at the launch of a conservation plan commissioned by Wexford County Council, on Wednesday at The Tholsel in New Ross.

The 66-page document was compiled by Wexford company, Stafford McLoughlin Archaeology and looks at every aspect of the fort from the flora and fauna around the imposing fortification, to its tourism potential. The report concludes that significant investment is needed in the fort which was closed on health and safety grounds in May 2015 after an inspection found that extensive electrical works are needed on the building.

Launching the report Director of Services John Carley said: 'This is part of an overall journey that we are on.'

Mr Carley praised Executive Engineer Abraham Dunne for his work in securing funding for the report which looks at the potenital of the fort going forward.

'We haven't just stopped everything. We have been talking with the Office of Public Works and we are looking at having limited summer tours which will be supervised through Hook Tourism.'

Mr Carley said capital finance is needed to develop the fort as a tourist attraction, adding that a flora and fauna work along the curtilage of the edifice is planned.

'The tourism section of Wexford County Council is looking at taking the project forward. Obviously it's a major attraction in the region and in the Hook area and because of that we think it's a very important feature of the county.'

Former chairman of the fort committee Cllr Martin Murphy said the fort began to be developed in 1993. He said an overall plan was missing, but 'it wasn't simply a case of make it up as you go along'.

'The people in the fort had a very good vision of what they wanted. There was also the idea of using it as a maritime museum in the fort. It is jutting out into the 'graveyard of 1,000 ships'. Unfortunately that only went so far and then some issues arose. There is a lot more that can be done with Duncannon Fort.'

Cllr Murphy said the fort should be developed along the lines of its original use as a military fort tourism attraction, with panels describing its rich history.

He said the fort board was dissolved, adding that this will make for a smoother running of the facility. He paid compliments to the former board members including former board member Sheila Wilmot. He also thanked former Duncannon Fort Manager Marion Cody for her great work at the centre.

Cllr Murphy called for works to be carried out as quickly as possible on the fort.

Archaeologist Emmett Stafford described Duncannon Fort as a world class attraction.

'The site has been there for 400 years. If anyone else had it they would be thrilled. You can't invent an opportunity like this; it has architecture, history and a stunning landscape.'

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