Last night I was honoured to officially launch The Walks Project in Loughrea Lto restore its historic wall and bridges on the former Clanricarde estate.
The project also includes the moat around the town that was put in place around 800 years ago. It is the only medieval moat in Ireland still functioning.
I was delighted that my Department – the Department of Rural and Community Development – has allocated €100,000 for the first phase of the project.
I want to congratulate the Walks Project Committee on their successful application for funding.
These are historic grounds which had fallen into a serious state of disrepair. I am equally delighted that the restoration and conservation works will be carried out by tradespeople who are highly experienced in this field.
The works are due to begin in the coming week. The entire restoration project will cost in the region of €450,000.
The town of Loughrea was founded in 1236 by the Anglo-Norman knight, Richard de Burgo.
The Normans dug a channel from Loughrea Lake to create the moat so that the town would be protected by water.
The origin of The Walks is uncertain but the feature appears in a map of the town from 1791, when it was referred to as The Clanricarde Walk and River.
The river in The Walks is vitally important to the Loughrea Lake fishery. It acts as a nursery for baby brown trout until they are mature enough to migrate back into the lake.