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*Pictured at the official opening of the Turret Lodge, Carmel Greene, Senior Executive Officer, Economic Development Directorate, Clare County Council; Leonard Cleary, Director of Service, Rural and Community Development, Clare County Council; Mayor of Clare, Cllr Mary Howard; Pat Dowling, Chief Executive, Clare County Council; and Lisa O’Sullivan, Kilrush and District Historical Society. Photograph: Eamon Ward

West Clare landmark, the Turret Lodge has been returned to the control of the Kilrush and District Historical Society following its €240,000 renovation.

Notable given its controlling access between Kilrush town and the Vandeleur Estate, the Turret Lodge acts as a surviving link with the past heritage of the West Clare capital. In 1897, Kilrush House which was the home of the Vandeleurs was burnt down, the surviving lodges, walled garden and stable block act as a reminder of the area’s history.

Built in 1845, originally spelt as the Terret Lodge, the structure will now be utilised as a small genealogy and exhibition space.

Funding under the Historic Towns Initiative was granted to renovate the Turret Lodge last year. The partnership between the Heritage Council and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht also received match funding from Clare County Council. The approval followed requests from the Kilrush and District Historical Society (KDHS).

Chairperson of the KDHS, Lisa O’Sullivan received the keys to the Turret on behalf of the society at an event to mark the works carried out.

Historical, social and tourism benefits will result for Kilrush as a result, officials within Clare County Council believe. The local authority has paid tribute to adjoining landowners, Coillte and Gearóid and Mary Williams for positively engaging with the project by facilitating the transfer of adjoining land.

“This project provides the local community with a truly unique space while also delivering on the conservation of an important building. The renovated Turret Lodge will increase the cultural, heritage and tourism offering of Kilrush Town,” Chief Executive of Clare County Council, Pat Dowling stated.

Mayor of Clare, Cllr Mary Howard (FG) maintained the refurbishment was “an exemplar of sustainable development” and noted that the concept originated from the community. Director of Economic Development with the Council, Liam Conneally flagged that the restoration aligned with objectives of the County’s Heritage Plan 2017-2023, “It has brought into active use a protected structure, resulting in a long-term heritage asset”.

Members of the KDHS have acknowledged Clare LEADER who initially provided funding to conduct a feasibility study and the input of Cllr Ian Lynch (IND). “When it is safe to do so, we will have an official launch event and the public will be given tours of the lodge. The window boards will remain up until the final cameras are installed,” a spokesperson for the society commented.

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