A national outdoor pursuits academy, a swimming pool complex, running track, and four playing pitches with associated facilities are to be developed around Lough Lannagh in Castlebar as part of an ambitious €12.5 million project, launched by Taoiseach Enda Kenny on Wednesday evening last.
The project is a collaboration between Castlebar Town Council, Mayo County Council, and GMIT and will be rolled out on two separate locations in the Lough Lannagh vicinity and take place in two stages.
The first location will see the development of the swimming pool complex and a national outdoor pursuits training centre. It will be located between the existing Lough Lannagh Holiday Village and Castlebar Tennis Club. The 3,000 square metre facility will incorporate a swimming pool complex with a 25 metre pool and separate toddler pool, a gym, aerobics room, climbing wall, and changing facilities. The 800 square metre outdoor pursuits academy which will be homed in a separate building will incorporate equipment storage facilities, changing rooms, staff offices, lecture and training rooms, and access to the lake. The centre will also have a subterranean lock-up located to its rear. The development will also see the construction of a floating pontoon to the rear giving greater access to Lough Lannagh. This facility will be operated by GMIT.
The second phase of the project is the construction of four playing pitches including an all weather pitch and a six lane tartan running track and all associated facilities including changing rooms and a clubhouse. This will be located across the road from the existing GMIT campus on lands currently owned by the HSE at Knockaphunta (near the halting site in the town ).
Spreading the cost of the project
The whole project is expected to cost in the region of €12.5 million. A €3.8 million allocation has already been ring-fenced for the pool development by the Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Michael Ring’s department while Mayo County Council and Castlebar Town Council are each to invest €1.25 millon with GMIT to put up a further €2.5 million. The pool and academy phase will cost €9.6 million, €7.2 million of which is in place, with the remaining €2.4 million the subject of funding applications which have been made to Fáilte Ireland and the Sports Capital Programme.
The running track and playing fields project will cost €2.9 million with €2.1 million of that funding already in place and an application for the balance of €0.8 million submitted to relevant departments.
Castlebar town manager Seamus Granahan said the part eight planning process would be starting immediately, with public consultation running until mid-July, then the preparation of a manager’s report, with the project ready to move towards full planning by September. He went on to say that he hoped the project would be completed within a two year time frame. He also stressed that the developments had been designed to be low-lying to blend in with the location.
“This project is worthy of support and it will become a reality,” An Taoiseach Enda Kenny said at the launch. “This will add immeasurably to this town and its facilities and the people who will use it.” He also complimented the joined-up thinking shown by the three agencies coming together to fund the project. “It’s about time Castlebar turned its face on Lough Lannagh and not its back. This will be a thriving centre of activities, leisure, commerce, training, and development. It is entirely appropriate that the local authorities and the GMIT come together to do this.”
Minister Ring told the Mayo Advertiser: “I’m delighted that this development has been proposed now. The €3.8 million is there for the swimming pool part of the development. I’m delighted to see the whole proposal as it has come about and all the parties coming together to work for something like this.”