Blarney tourist shop to be extended

Plans have been approved to extend the tourist shop at the entrance to Blarney Castle in Cork, despite an objection over concern for the safety of visitors.

Blarney Castle

An Bord Pleanála has upheld the decision of Cork County Council to allow the owner of the 15th-century castle (home of the famous Blarney Stone), Charles Colthurst, to expand the retail space of the building, which contains a visitor centre.

The proposed extension will increase the existing floor space of the tourist shop by 60%, to 335sq m.

The ruling had been appealed by Padraig Ó Buachalla, a resident of Shandon, who opposed the extension of the visitor facilities, because of the number of “near misses” he had witnessed between motorists and pedestrians at the corner between the castle estate and Blarney Woollen Mills.

Mr Ó Buachalla claims that visitors to the castle face an “extremely hazardous” route to access the facility, due to the lack of a pedestrian crossing and proper footpaths.

Consultants acting for Mr Colthurst said he shares the concern about the crossing point to the tourist shop from Blarney Woollen Mills, but said it is outside his control.

An inspector with An Bord Pleanála accepted that manoeuvrability of vehicles in the area is tight, but attributes it to “a historic legacy of the layout of the village”. The inspector said visitors crossing a public road from Blarney Woollen Mills to Blarney Castle, in an uncontrolled manner, is “not desirable”.

An Bord Pleanála said the development would not seriously injure the amenities of the area, or property in the vicinity.

It concluded that the proposed extension is generally acceptable, in terms of traffic safety and convenience.

Blarney Castle was the 12th most popular fee-paying tourist attraction in the Republic in 2017, with 450,000 visitors.

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