Clare County Council officials and project stakeholders recently attended a socially distanced site visit to Vandeleur Walled Garden in advance of the enabling works getting underway for the restoration and renovation of the old stable block.
The tendering process is complete and Custy Construction Ltd, a Clare-based construction firm, has been appointed to this project. The project is funded by the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, Project Ireland 2040, under the Department of Rural and Community Development with additional match funding by Clare County Council.
The main works, due to commence in early 2021, will include an interpretative museum and new gardeners’ building along with the development of a new visitor experience design and approach for the complex. The design for the scheme, brought to planning stage by Clare County Council Architectural Services, is being developed for construction led by P. Coleman and Associates along with Moloney Fox, consulting engineers, and Rogerson Reddan, quantity surveyors. John Ruddle Consulting completed a comprehensive visitor experience strategy for the site earlier this year and specialist interpretative designers will be appointed to develop wayfinding and the content of the museum interpretative centre.
The Mayor of Clare, Cllr Mary Howard, said: “I very much welcome these enabling works for the restoration and renovation of the old stable block. This addition of an interpretative museum, along with the new visitor experience, will enhance this wonderful location. The completed project will be a great asset to the local community and tourism in the area.”
Pat Dowling, Chief Executive, Clare County Council, said: “This investment in Vandeleur is part of an overall visitor development strategy and could not have come at a more pertinent time given the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on our tourism sector. The investment will not only contribute to recovery in the tourism sector and assist with rural regeneration in the town of Kilrush, but it is also anticipated that it will create opportunities for economic growth and employment in the region.”
Leonard Cleary, Director of Services, Rural Development, Clare County Council, said: “During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Vandeleur Walled Garden and the Woodland Bistro has proven its popularity and adaptability, providing an important amenity for the town and supporting local employment. This adaptability highlights the importance of local amenity and recreation to the people of Kilrush and only serves to reinforce further the merit and relevance of ongoing investment in Vandeleur Walled Garden.”
A number of improvements have been taking place in recent months in the Coillte-owned Vandeleur Estate in conjunction with the West Clare Municipal District, and these works all align with the overall strategy to improve use of the woods and the Vandeleur Centre as part of the ongoing development of the visitor attraction.
Deirdre O’Shea, Head of Tourism (Acting), Clare County Council, added that Vandeleur Walled Garden is a strong product for tourism in Clare and, in line with both the recently adopted Clare Tourism Strategy 2030 as well as the West Clare/North Kerry Visitor Experience Development Plan being led by Fáilte Ireland, this development will further strengthen this product and provide a very tangible saleable experience for West Clare.
Ruth Hurley, Senior Executive Architect and Project Manager, Clare County Council, said: “The enabling works signal the start of significant investment in the visitor attraction and we would not be here without the input and commitment of all the stakeholders and the design team who have supported this project development from a concept idea to securing investment. In particular, I would like acknowledge the ongoing support from Coillte, the Kilrush Amenity Trust, the Department of Rural and Community Development and the staff and management of the Vandeleur Centre.”