Last Tuesday, May 14, Fethard Business and Tourism Group received the wonderful news that South Tipperary County Council and the Department of the Environment have accepted the planning application for the renovation of Fethard Town Hall. This means that full planning permission for the refurbishment and reuse of the building has been accepted and endorsed by the ‘powers that be’.
The vision of the Fethard Business and Tourism group is that the Tholsel will become a focal point for the visitor to Ireland’s premier walled town. The restored building will act as the link and the portal for the tourist and the local person to the medieval heart of the town. It will contain a reception and information area, a café restaurant, a terrace overlooking the town walls, exhibition spaces and an apartment with overnight accommodation.
The group will now press the ‘go’ button on the project and will need to attract funding of up to €600,000 from state and local sources. They will also appoint a design and construction team prior to commencement. South Tipperary County Council have already pledged €105,000 and an application has been submitted to South Tipperary Development Company for €450,000. Our ‘Gathering Draw’ will take place on Friday, May 31 May and the Festival Dance on June 22 will also assist in developing our ‘fighting fund’ for the project.
The Heritage Council, and the Irish Walled Town Network describe Fethard as, “One of the finest medieval walled towns in existence in Ireland, if not Europe . . . a treasure trove of historical features, with several castles and churches, all located within a short walking distance of one another.” They also identify the medieval Town Hall / Tholsel as having the potential to be the hub of future tourist activity in the town. We are well on the road to realising this.
The committee wish to acknowledge the terrific support of The Heritage Council who have invested so much in Fethard in recent years. South Tipperary County Council, Cllr John Fahey, Heritage Officer Labhaoise McKenna for the Adopt a Monument project, Anthony Fitzgerald (STCC), Isobel Cambie and Conor Ryan (STDC), Shaffrey Associates Architects, Kilkenny Archaeology, Rev. Barbra Fryday, Fethard and Killusty Community Council, Fethard Tidy Towns and Jimmy O’Sullivan.
The success of this project is a great example of what can be achieved when community volunteers team up with local authority officials and focus their combined energies on an agreed goal.