On Wednesday 8th May 2019 the Cathaoirleach of Tipperary County Council, Cllr. Mattie Ryan officially opened The Castle Garden, Nenagh. Although the day was damp, this failed to take from the enjoyment of those present as they took in the beauty and tranquillity of the new ‘medieval’ garden which has been developed by Tipperary County Council in a setting adjacent to Nenagh Castle, St. Mary’s of the Rosary Catholic Church and the Church of Ireland.
Formerly known as ‘Gill’s Garden’ after the family who previously owned the site, it was acquired by Nenagh Town Council from the Parish in 2013 as an extension to the amenity area surrounding the Castle. This followed on from the conservation works to Nenagh Castle which were completed by the OPW in 2012 and the major redevelopment works carried out on the Castle Field by Tipperary County Council.
Cllr. Ryan said “this will be a place that people will come and visit, a place that is a quiet peaceful haven in the midst of all the noise and traffic”. He also referred to the attractions of the cultural and heritage quarter of the town and its majestic buildings – the 13th Century Castle Keep, the Churches, the Courthouse, the Governor’s House, the Gaol Complex, Nenagh Arts Centre and the former Presbyterian Church in Banba Square.
The total cost of the project was €350,000. A grant of €35,000 was received under the Public Area Enhancement Scheme from the then Department of Environment, Community & Local Government however the lion’s share of the funding was provided by the local authorities – firstly by Nenagh Town Council and more recently by Tipperary County Council.
Planning consent was given by the members of Nenagh Municipal District in March 2016 and final approval was received from the Department of Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht in November 2016. Nicholas de Jong and Associates were appointed as consultants. Because of the location of the garden, a number of archaeological, environmental and structural assessments had to be undertaken.
In consideration of the specialist nature of the work involved it was decided to have two separate contracts – one for the masonry works on the walls and a separate one for the landscaping. Glas Civil Engineering Ltd were contractors for the masonry works which were completed mid 2018 and Nordon Landscapes were appointed as contractors for the landscaping.
At the opening appreciation was expressed to Fr. Des Hillery, PP and his team for their co-operation throughout the project. The close collaboration with the Office of Public Works and the Department of Culture, Heritage & the Gaeltacht was also acknowledged and both bodies had representatives present on the day.
Mr. Joe MacGrath, Chief Executive, Tipperary County Council referred to the significant investment that has taken place in Nenagh over the term of the current Council with a number of projects having been successfully delivered. He said “the town has benefitted from a €17m investment in public infrastructure, an enhanced leisure centre and new town park and the first Foreign Direct Investment in the town for almost thirty years. Significant progress has been made in achieving the objectives of the Martyr’s Road Masterplan”. He also mentioned other projects planned for the town including the conservation works on the Gaol block enabled by the Historic Towns Initiative Fund; public realm renewal works at Banba Square; the provision of a wi-fi hot spot in the town centre and the provision of tourism information office at Nenagh Arts Centre. Proposals are also being developed for the gaol complex, discussions are progressing on further phases relating to Nenagh Castle and plans for Nenagh 800 are being formulated.
Fr. Des Hillery and Rev. Rob Smyth celebrated an Ecumenical Blessing and Patricia Finn did a reading. MC for the occasion was Marcus O’ Connor, Director of Services. Samuel McKeever of Nicholas de Jong Associates thanked the contractors for their work on the project and outlined the design concept and vision.
Access to the Castle Garden is through the Castle Field. It is now open to the public daily.