Mr. Seán Canney, T.D., Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief today outlined his ambitious plan for the future of Portumna Castle, stressing its key role in supporting tourism in the East Galway town and building on its existing strong profile with visitors.

Portumna Castle is one of Ireland’s best surviving examples of a Jacobean manor house and, dating from the early 1600’s, gives us a fascinating glimpse of the lives of the De Burgo family who lived there for over 200 years” said the Minister.  “It is a wonderful site with a huge amount of history and character and I am determined that it will contribute much more significantly in the future to tourism in the area and help to sustain many more jobs locally.”

The State acquired the Castle in 1948 and the Office of Public Works has been engaged over many years since in a series of conservation works designed to preserve the essential historic features of the building and the surrounding grounds.  “The OPW have worked at Portumna Castle for many years to guarantee that the site is protected for future generations,” said the Minister “and I want to ensure that we carry on with that work.  However, I am also anxious that we provide excellent visitor facilities at the Castle so that tourists can come in greater numbers to enjoy the site and all that it has to offer and I am happy to outline some of these enhancement projects today.”

Access Road improvements

Following an agreement with Galway County Council, the road serving the Castle site has been taken into public charge and, in a partnership approach, the Council and the OPW have invested substantially to upgrade the route.  The Minister said “I am very happy that the OPW and the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs were able to commit €100,000 to this project and it is quite clear that the work that has been carried out by the Council is an important step in providing excellent vehicle access not just to the Castle, but to the other attractions including the Parklands and the Marina that lie further along.  I commend Waterways Ireland also for their recent commitment to the site by upgrading their facilities at the Marina which will add significantly to the attractiveness of the site for visitors arriving both by road and by water.”

Café, Exhibition space and Visitor Toilet facilities

Work will finish in early 2017 on an OPW project for the provision of a new visitor building within the former Stable block building in the old Courtyard next to the Castle.  “This building will incorporate a Café and Exhibition space and will also provide new toilet facilities for visitors” said the Minister.  “We have very ambitious plans to make great use of the upstairs exhibition space in particular to house programmes of artistic work and historical displays.  The OPW management team at the site will be very interested to talk to local groups with a view to hearing their ideas and suggestions for any exhibitions they might have.  We will be very proactive to ensure that we use the space very creatively to provide both an outlet for local groups and variety and interest for visitors.”

New Bus and Car Parking Facilities

Work will also commence in 2017 on a project for the provision of proper bus and car parking facilities for the site, with designs for the new parking facility being submitted for Planning approval shortly.  “A significant number of people visit Portumna Castle every year” said the Minister.   “However, one of the biggest drawbacks in attracting even more visitors is the lack of proper parking at the site.  Providing these much needed facilities will be a major improvement and will allow visitors to park vehicles safely within a comfortable walking distance from the historic Castle, the wonderful Walled Garden, the remains of the Cistercian Abbey and the surrounding parklands.”

The Minister was very enthusiastic about the future for the Portumna site and the rich possibilities these investments will open up.  “The Castle attracts about 15,000 visitors a year currently” he said.  “However, I want this number to at least double over the next few years and I think that this is very achievable with the new facilities that we are delivering for the site.  I would hope that, by providing these facilities, we can for example encourage greater numbers of tour operators to visit Portumna.  Currently, the lack of proper parking and proper visitor welfare facilities means that some of the larger groups give the Castle a miss and I am confident that, once we have provided the additional facilities and the site has been marketed to this segment of the tourism industry, greater visitor numbers will inevitably followAttracting additional visitors like this will provide a greater spinoff for the town of Portumna and much economic benefit for local businesses.”

Portumna Castle Portumna Co. Galway North Exteriors in good light, Gardens, Kitchen Garden

Portumna Castle Portumna Co. Galway.