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Castletown House Estate, Co Kildare Alamy Stock Photo

OPW Minister of State says limiting of road access to Castletown House is 'serious dilemma'

From 16 September, car access to the estate will be via the Celbridge Avenue entrance only.

OPW MINISTER OF State Patrick O’Donovan has said there is a “serious dilemma” after private owners the of land on the Castletown House estate in Co Kildare limited public access to the historic site by permanently closing access from the M4 motorway entrance.

While visits to the state-owned site in Celbridge – 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 field, 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 some local TDs, as residents blocked the road yesterday morning believing the owners intended to renovate the site immediately.

Speaking to RTÉ’s News at One, O’Donovan said that at the moment there is “no provision” visitors who have restricted mobility “because the carpark that we currently have … off the M4, it is currently proposed that it be discontinued”.

“So we are in a serious dilemma here,” O’Donovan said. 

He added that there has to be “access for people to a national amenity and a national asset”. 

“We have to be cognisant that some people’s mobility is far more reduced than others,” he said. 

castletown-house-exterior-historic-monument-celbridge-ireland Castletown House Estate, Co Kildare Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

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.

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.

O’Donovan said that he is “appealling, really, to the landowner here” to allow space for negotiations” between themselves, the Office of Public Works and Kildare County Council.

Speaking to The Journal yesterday, local Social Democrats councillor Aidan Farrelly 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.

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.

With reporting by Muiris O’Cearbhaill 

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