Swords Castle gets go ahead

by Gazette Reporter

SWORDS residents and representatives alike can breathe a collective sigh of relief as the Swords Castle Conservation Plan has been launched.
It has been a big issue in the local area among residents, representatives and business owners, as it is believed that the castle could draw floods of tourists, thus boosting the local economy – and, in particular, supporting the ailing Main Street, which has lost a lot of business in recent years.
Mayor of Fingal, Cllr Mags Murray (FF), who launched the plan, emphasised that “Swords Castle is an important part of the town of Swords and is an important tourism asset for Fingal”.
The conservation plan sets out Fingal County Council’s policies and priorities in caring for “this important national monument”, and developing it as an amenity for the people of Fingal, said Cllr Murray. It also addresses a range of concerns regarding the preservation, conservation and presentation of above- and below-ground elements of Swords Castle.
In seeking to re-affirm its significance and identify issues that hide this significance, it also sets out policies for protecting aspects of the castle that are of importance for the future.
The plan proposes to implement systems for the maintenance and repair in the short-, medium- and long-term, while protecting its significance and historic integrity.
It seeks to protect the castle’s significance at the centre of future planning in the development of Swords and to promote it as a tourist attraction, providing public information to emphasise its historical significance, through signage, publication and promotion and the creation and maintenance of a proper archive on Swords Castle.
Further aspects of the plan include immediate stabilisation works, and measures to enhance the appearance and structure of the castle by repairing eroded features and removing intrusive ones. Further archaeological investigation and research will also be carried out.
Some of the proposed repairs include elevating a number of walls and abutments etc, which have begun to decay and crumble. Other works include the re-construction and/or addition of a number of towers, and a number of extensions.
It is not yet known what the cost of implementing the conservation plan will be, but funding will come from Fingal County Council’s Capital Programme. Extensive work on the project will be carried out over the next three years.
Cllr Darragh Butler (FF), who has been advocating the regeneration of Swords Castle for some time now, was delighted by the news.
He said: “The Swords Castle Conservation Plan is most welcome and thank you to Fingal County Council and to all involved in its publishing.
“Hopefully, this will be the launching pad for real and speedy progress with regard to Swords Castle.
“What Swords residents really want to see are the buildings from the old barber’s shop down – that block the view of the castle – being knocked down as soon as possible, and I would agree with them.
“We need to show off the outer walls and then open up the castle for tourists and locals alike as soon as possible, in conjunction with any archaeological phases,” he said.
Cllr Duncan Smith (Lab) said: “I was very active in the plan and I broadly welcome it. But it’s one thing having a plan, and it’s another thing actually seeing it put into action. I will be pushing to have the conservation plan put into action as soon as possible.
“For too long, our castle has remained closed and in order to regenerate the main street, the opening of the castle is central to that.”

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