independent

Monday 26 August 2019

Record Book makers interested in Castlebridge House

The historic conservatory at Castlebridge House which is now protected under a galvanised shed
The historic conservatory at Castlebridge House which is now protected under a galvanised shed

Pádraig Byrne

Following discussions with local councillor John Hegarty, a feasibility study is to be carried out on the historic Castlebridge House and conservatory amid interest from both Diageo and the Pattison Group in Canada who own the rights to The Guinness Book of World Records and Ripley's Believe It or Not.

Famously, Castlebridge is the founding place of the Guinness Book of World Records. It was founded on November 10, 1951, when Managing Director of Guinness Breweries Sir Hugh Beaver went on a shooting party to the North Slob.

A debate ensued over which was the fastest game bird in Europe and Beaver realised that there were no reference books to answer such questions. He decided to address this and the Guinness Book of World Records was born in August 1954.

It went on to sell over 100 million copies in 100 different countries and 37 different languages - the world's best selling copyrighted book of all time.

Cllr Hegarty maintains that Castlebridge House and its unique conservatory made in Pierces Foundry should form a cornerstone of the county's tourism offering.

'Instead the building lies idle, inaccessible, boarder up and derelict while the conservatory is covered from sight by a galvanised shed,' Cllr Hegarty lamented.

'It is a sad indictment of Wexford County Council that they have had ownership of this building for decades and have allowed it to fall into such disrepair. If this building with it's amazing back story was located in Galway or Kerry, I really doubt that it would be in such a state. Indeed if it was privately owned I suspect there would be enforcement proceedings initiated.'

Cllr Hegarty said that while locals, headed by Barney Murphy and Liam Keating, have done as much as they can to keep the project alive, it has somewhat stalled and needs Wexford County Council's input to bring it along to the next step.

'Both Diageo and the Pattison Group, who own the rights to the Guinness Book of Records, are really taken with the story of Castlebridge House,' he said. 'But they are unable to discuss anything further because the council has no plan to present.'

The Fine Gael councillor is hopeful that this could soon change after receiving an undertaking from senior council officials to conduct a full feasibility study on the whole site.

'I have no idea what the study will come up with, but I hope that it will be a plan that Council and locals can agree on and that will then allow for further discussions with not only the groups mentioned earlier but also the government who will need to back the project also,' he said.

'To do this job properly will require an investment of millions but the first step is the feasibility study/plan and I am delighted to say that, after years waiting, this will now be able to get under way in the coming months.'

Wexford People

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