The restoration of Doe Castle got underway three years ago due to the pressure exerted by the Clann tSuibhne association on the Office of Public Works know as Dúchas. Since then the castle has been closed to the public for safety reasons. The work is slow and tedious as great care must be taken to ensure that nothing of the existing structure is damaged and that the restoration is in accordance with original structure.
This work is indeed in very capable hands judging by the craftsmanship that has to be seen to be believed and we can assure all you Sweeneys that Doe Castle is being restored to its former glory by these dedicated workers.
Work is presently running behind original target dates for completion, due to unforeseen problems such as rain leaking behind the stonework on the tower. It is necessary to pick and repoint the stonework to prevent further decay of the walls. This adds to time and expense. The workforce of four craftsmen at present, carry on in all weather to do what is necessary, and it will probably be late this year before the present phase is complete.
The Governments Heritage Department responsible for this work has no plans to carry out further work once the present tower work is complete claiming that the only reason for roofing the tower was to provide shelter for the priceless Sweeney tomb slab which marked the Sweeney chieftains graves for centuries until removed and placed, damaged, on the west wall of the castle by the Office of Public Works twenty years ago and was being ravaged by weather and souvenir hunters until the clan association pressured for its removal to a safer environment.
Since then a replica has been placed on the graves by Dúchas and the work commenced on the tower.
We are not going to leave it at that of course. At present a plan is being drawn up to present to the Minister and hopefully change her mind regarding funding for further development of the Great Hall and other works which would leave Doe Castle a living castle once again where our children could visit and step back in time. We believe it is important to pass on this awareness to the children so that ancient monuments will be treated with the respect they truly deserve and that the children in turn will take an interest in their own heritage.
We were disappointed earlier this year when the Minister announced an allocation of £100,000,000 to be spent on heritage sites in Ireland up to the year 2006. Not one penny has been allocated north of a line between Dublin and Galway. This is totally unacceptable. It seems unrealistic to leave Doe Castle half finished once the present phase of roofing the tower is complete. We will keep you informed as to progress.
Clann tSuibhne would like to thank the following craftsmen of Dúchas for their dedication to their task, their superb finish of their work and their courtesy towards us when we visit and for their patience when we bring our clan rally and other distinguished visitors for a peep at the work.
John Corcoran Drumahare, Leitrim Area Manager Dúchas.
John Warren of Sligo, Supervisor
Dinny Harron of Sligo, Joiner.
Michael Gavigan of Rosnoughlagh, Stonemason.
Johnny Burke of New Mills and Galway, Stonemason
John Mangan of Sligo, Joiner
Gideon Moore of Doe Castle, Caretaker and Stonemason.
John McTierney of Leitrim, Plasterer.
Johnny Kilfeather of Sligo, Joiner.
Hugh Cullen and Bernie Dolan of Leitrim, Scaffolders
Tommy Sweeney of Leitrim, Stores.
Dinny Harron recently retired and we would like to pay a special tribute to him for his work not only at Doe Castle but very many other castles and monuments around the country. His craftsmanship, like that of his fellow workers, will be there for centuries to come and will give great pleasure to very many thousands of visitors to sites where he worked. We wish him a long and happy retirement.
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