A draft masterplan for Moorehall and its surrounding areas, including Lough Carra, was warmly welcomed by the elected members of the Castlebar Municipal District at their most recent meeting.
The councillors were given a presentation on the plan which is being put together through a collaboration of a number of agencies and consultants, including Mayo County Council, National Parks and Wildlife Service, Coillte and SLR Consulting.
The aim of the plan is to develop a national nature reserve, where the lesser horseshoe bat is protected, along with creating a recreational and visitor experience and also celebrating the legacy of the Moore family, with a visitors centre to showcase the political and other achievements of the family.
The plan is composed of five strategic actions:(1 ) Conservation management; (2 ) Authenticity and restoration of key features of the historic environment; (3 ) Development of the visitor experience; (4 ) Improving linkages, interpretation and signage and infrastructure planning and (5 ) A planning case for the future.
The restoration part of the project would see design proposals drawn up for restoration of features like the house at Moorehall, the walled garden, the farmyard and avenue, while the installation of a visitors centre would see a new centre built to contain exhibitions and other items of interest to visitors.
Fianna Fáil Cllr Al McDonnell, who has been a long-term driver of the project, welcomed the plan, saying: "At one stage, this was a pipe dream but it is a fantasy no more. Now it is an achievable objective." The Cathaoirleach of the district, Cllr Blackie Gavin, said that the project could become a major tourist attraction for the district. The plan will move on to a public consultation process before any further steps are taken.