Major transformative works progressing at historic Mayo estate
The first phase of development works to transform the grounds and gardens at Moore Hall is progressing steadily at the historic estate.
The works includes the restoration of the Walled Garden, which had fallen into disrepair, as well as new visitor facilities including walkways, seating, play areas and meaningful signage.
Funding of €350,000 for Moore Hall was granted earlier this year under the Rural Development (LEADER) and Cross Border Co-operation Programmes.
The works, which are being carried out by Westport based contractors Cunningham Civil and Marine, will be completed by the end of July.
The restoration of Moore Hall and putting it on the tourism map has been a long standing aspiration of the local community according to Walter Hughes, chairman of Carnacon Community Development Association.
He said: “We are delighted to see the first phase of restoration works commence after years of hope.
"I want to thank everybody involved, the different agencies including Mayo County Council, National Parks and Wildlife Service, South West Mayo Development Company, Mayo LEADER Local Action Group (Mayo LAG) and Coillte Teo. I want to especially thank Minister Michael Ring TD for providing the funding.
Robert Coyne, executive engineer with Mayo County Council in charge of the works, said “This development is a new chapter in the story of Moore Hall. The current works are focussed on restoring the grounds and walled garden.
“The walled garden was dilapidated, its wall breached in numerous locations, the dovecote was crumbling away and the original pathways and garden lost.
"We are keen to bring it back as much as possible to its former glory as a place for people to visit, explore and enjoy.
“The new works include rebuilding the stone wall and dovecote as well as installing new seating, play areas and story boards which will tell the story of Moore Hall, the Moore Family and their role in the history of our nation”.
Gerry O’Neill, CEO of South West Mayo Development Company and a member of the Mayo LEADER Local Action Group, said “I am very pleased to be associated with this project, which is an excellent example of a LEADER community project involving as it does the local community, local authority, local heritage and historical bodies in a collaboration that will greatly enhance the site.
“We are delighted to have played a part in contributing to the restoration of this historic and significant piece of Mayo heritage.
"We look forward to seeing the works completed and being soon able to walk the grounds and enjoy the unique atmosphere of Moore Hall”.
The regeneration of Moore Hall is being carried out at the same time as the regeneration of another historic location - Derrymore House - near Newry, County Armagh under a cross border cooperation project between Mayo LAG and Mourne, Gullion and Lecale Rural Development Partnership.
Both Moore Hall and Derrymore date from the same period and share similar history.
Moore Hall, built in 1795, is set on over 95 hectares of forest overlooking Lough Carra.
It was the ancestral home of John Moore, President of the Republic of Connacht, during the 1798 French invasion of Ireland, an event which precipitated the introduction of the Act of Union in 1801.
Derrymore House, built in 1787, is set on over 100 acres of parkland and woodland near Newry.
The house was the country lodge of Isaac Corry, MP for Newry and the last Chancellor of the Exchequer before the Act of Union.
He is reputed to have drafted the Act of Union in the drawing room of Derrymore House.
Norita Clesham, Community Project Officer with South West Mayo Development Company, said: “Both Moore Hall and Derrymore share similar topography and historical contexts and the cross border funded project gives local communities in Mayo and Armagh an opportunity to foster closer ties and gain a greater understanding of our different traditions and shared history.”
A masterplan to preserve and develop the very important environment and historic landscape at Moore Hall and surrounding area is currently being developed through a multiagency partnership including Mayo County Council, National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department of Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht and Coillte.
The masterplan will set out a long term vision for the Moore Hall area as an internationally important cultural heritage attraction and nature reserve and is expected to be launched in August.
John Magee, Director of Services with Mayo County Council, said: “The masterplan will set out a blueprint to preserve and develop the site in a sensitive way with a range of restoration works which will be undertaken over the coming years including restoration to the grounds and the buildings and provision of new trails to connect to the neighbouring amenities and attractions in the area.
William Cormacan, Regional Manager, National Parks & Wildlife Service said: “The NPWS are delighted to be part of the project.
"Moore Hall and Lough Carra are internationally important sites for nature conservation and will be a jewel of the proposed Joyce Country and Western Lakes Geopark.
“The masterplan being developed between the Council and the NPWS will set out the framework for the future development of Moore Hall and Lough Carra, while upholding the ecological integrity of the area.
“At the heart of the plan will be projects and measures for the enhancement of the Lesser Horse Bat, as well as measures for the enhancement and protection of habitats and species associated with Lough Carra.
"There is huge community engagement in this project which is an excellent example of the community and government bodies working closely together.”
Minister Michael Ring, who has been supportive of the project since its inception said: “I am delighted to have provided funding towards the restoration of the grounds and walled garden at Moore Hall.
"The Moore Hall Lough Carra area is an exceptional place of interest to visitors and will be a wonderful recreational park for people living in the county.
“The current works and future works plans will have a transformative effect on South Mayo, bringing new employment and benefits which will seep into the towns and villages of the region.”