Community could save Moate courthouse from dereliction

Westmeath County Council is calling on local community groups to get their thinking caps on in a bid to prevent the courthouse in Moate from descending into dereliction.

Anyone with any ideas as to how the building could be used would be “welcomed with open arms” the council said this week. The call came after Moate’s Cllr Tom Allen asked the council to clarify future plans for the site, which he said was falling into a “derelict” state.

“We are letting our own building fall into a derelict state. Is it possible to do something, to get someone to take over? Can we give it to a community group - anything at all?” pleaded Cllr Allen.

“It is a lovely building and should be preserved if at all possible, but groups don’t have the funds to do it up.”

Describing the courthouse as “a very important civic building”, the council’s director of services Barry Kehoe said he would welcome any proposal for use that would be compatible with the building’s historic fabric and protected status. He said the courthouse had been “very badly let down”.

“It is very unfair. We want to see if anyone out there could take it over free of charge, though it would stay in the ownership of Westmeath County Council. There could be an end user out there we could do a deal with.

“Unfortunately I’m not aware of any funding or grant that might be available. We are very interested in getting someone into it. If anyone has any plans we will welcome them with open arms.”

While Moate Boxing Club has been using part of the building, a recent roof leak is threatening its continuation. Moate’s Cllr Joe Whelan shared Cllr Allen’s frustrations, but said it was necessary to be realistic.

“There is a conflict about our heritage. In a dream world we want to preserve everything, but there is no money to do this, and heritage turns to dereliction.

“Regarding the future of the courthouse, we have to look at the reality of the current situation and whether it is possible to get funding to do something with it. Many groups would avail of the space but have no money to do so. We have to be honest and accept the reality.”

Any individual or group who could avail of the courthouse building in Moate is asked to contact Westmeath County Council at (044 ) 9332000.


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