Construction of €3.5m Clondalkin Round Tower centre near completion

By Maurice Garvey

AMBITIOUS plans for the new look Round Tower heritage centre in Clondalkin are nearing completion.

Construction of the €3.5 million project is expected to be completed by the end of March, with interior fit-outs taking another two months to finish.

Inside Mill Cottages 09022017

Visitors could be enjoying the wide range of visual and interactive displays at the highly anticipated facility by early summertime.

GEM Construction Ltd secured the contract from the South Dublin County Council for the project, which forms part of a key strategy objective for South Dublin tourism.

It features a visitor centre, a monastic garden, café, and craft shop, and includes the refurbishment of the 19th century Mill Cottages at Millview Terrace and on Tower Road.

Bernardine Nic Giolla Phádraig, a co-ordinator with the Clondalkin Round Tower Heritage Group, said members met with senior officials from SDCC last week, to discuss the latest on the project.

“We are very excited with how they described the display side of it,” said Bernardine.

“Strands of it will be focused on young people, children and school groups, whilst other strands will be meet the requirements for academics looking for more in-depth knowledge. It targets a wide audience and there is definitely a wow factor involved.”

The visitor centre will be “self-guided” and operate on a one-way loop system, as the corridors are narrow.

Bernardine continued: “Displays will be very interactive and accessible for visitors, making it exciting for school groups. There will be information on all the round towers in Ireland, and a model inside the building of the Clondalkin Round Tower.

“The centre will also feature rotating exhibitions, with scope for more local links with local history. Clondalkin has a lot of history. In 1014, Brian Boru’s troops ransacked the town, which was a Viking stronghold, prior to the battle of Clontarf.

“There is Mount St Joseph, the area was an early industrial centre with the paper mills, and there were early transport links with the locks on the grand canal, and proximity to Baldonnel.”

The wide appeal for visitors, whether they be locals, tourists, or tour groups, support the potential for the centre to bring in additional revenue for the local economy – in terms of tourism and revenue.

Tommy Keogh and Josephine Byrne from Clondalkin Round Tower Heritage Group invited local people to get involved and train up as volunteer tour guides.

“The response for tourism training saw us reach full capacity, with 45 participants training on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” said Bernardine.

Volunteer tour guides will operate from the centre and provide guided walks of Clondalkin's historical heritage area.

The café will feature a 25-seat terrace and the garden will be located behind Tower Road and the cottages.

Tender for the design of the interior of the interpretative centre was awarded to Tandem Design, who created the interactive visitor experiences in King John’s Castle, Limerick and in Titanic Belfast.

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