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The road closure will cut off access to 225 acres of the site, permanently. Alamy

Private owners of land at Castletown House limit road access to the historic site

One local councillor told The Journal that the state had made a “real error” when it was outbid by private developers this year.

THE PRIVATE OWNERS of land on the Castletown House estate, in Celbridge, Co. Kildare, have limited public access to the historic site by permanently closing access from the M4 motorway entrance.

While visits to the state-owned site – which makes up 225 acres of the estate – will still be permitted, the Office of Public Works (OPW) notified the local community last week that, from 16 September, car access to the estate will be via the Celbridge Avenue entrance only. 

The decision comes as locals believe that the privately owned 235 acre site, which the state failed to secure after being outbid by a private developer earlier this year, will be developed in inappropriate ways for the historic site. 

The road closure will permanently cut off road access to the privately-owned 235 acres of the estate.

This decision has angered many from the local community and has received backlash from two local TDs, as residents blocked the road this morning believing the owners intended to renovate the site immediately.

The estate was built in 1722 for Speaker of the Irish House of Commons William Connolly. Since 1965, ownership of the estate was divided between the state and private owners until earlier this year.

According to the OPW, 235 acres of lands around Castletown House were sold on the open market this year. 

“The OPW subsequently entered negotiations with the new owners regarding the terms of a licence which, since 2007, has ensured access to Castletown House and Parklands from the M4 motorway,” the letter told residents.

“Unfortunately, it was not possible to agree reasonable and feasible terms for access,” it added.

Local Social Democrats councillor Aidan Farrelly said that the failure of the state to secure their bid was a “real, real error”. Farrelly believes that the developers plan to build housing in the area.

Farrelly told The Journal that the local community were reliant on using the site for various amenities, which he says have been dwindling with the increase in private residential units being placed in the town in recent months.

The Clane-Maynooth councillor said that public land being bought by private developers for housing is leading to “reduced infrastructure” in Celbridge – the opposite of what the community was promised when developments began in the area.

castletown-house-kildare-ireland The estate in 2015. Alamy Alamy

The OPW said that it will work with Kildare County Council and An Garda Síochána to ensure that visitors have access to the site, including the provision of on-site parking facilities at the publicly owned portion of the estate.

Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy shared her displeasure with the decision to close the access, labelling the closure of “awful news“.

The Kildare North TD said on Twitter that she had “no doubt” there would be public backlash to the decision to close the access to the public space in Celbridge.

Fianna Fáil TD James Lawless said on Facebook over the weekend that he was “very disappointed and frustrated to learn of the latest developments at Castletown”.

“I have raised this latest twist with the relevant Ministers again and [I] am prepared to work with all concerned to reach a permanent, acceptable solution for the people of Celbridge and the users of Castletown,” Lawless added.

“This is and was and should be a public space,” Farrelly said.

Locals have since started a petition to stop permission being granted to develop the site in Celbridge, which as over 10,000 signatures at the time of publication.

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