A major new development has been revealed, and a famous Donegal landmark could be getting a facelift, following the establishment of a local conservation group.
The group is aiming to restore O’Doherty’s Keep in Swan Park, Buncrana as well as the construction of a visitor and heritage centre, and landscaped gardens on the site.
The background work for this exciting local project has been in preparation for some time, and the group have now agreed a long-term lease with the owner.
With the encouragement and permission of the National Monuments Service and Office of Public Works to move ahead, the group are pleased with the positive response and interest shown so far.
Speaking about the project, spokesperson for the development group Ronan O’Doherty said: “The first phase of the project includes sensitive but essential investigations and surveying of the Keep itself and the adjacent site, by specialists including conservation architects, archaeologists, ecologists, quantity surveyors and structural engineers. It will involve topographical land survey as well as laser scanning of the monument.
“This phase of the project will take some 4-5 months to complete which will result in the compilation of a comprehensive Conservation Plan for the Keep and surrounding site and will form the basis of future plans.
“This feasibility study will cost money however, and while funds are available from various sources, such as LEADER, we have an obligation to raise funds ourselves, and to put it into context, we will require approximately €50,000 to complete feasibility study alone through a combination of private and public funds.
“But we are really excited by the project, and we believe that the site is of such historic significance locally, and in terms of the origins of the O’Doherty name, that there is merit in what we are trying to achieve. We are calling on the O’Doherty Clan, as well as local people and the worldwide diaspora to assist us in reaching our fundraising goals.
“We have set up a crowdfunding site, which has just gone live as well as a website, to bring attention to the cause. We will also be hosting an open night to give the public an outline of our plans for the site.”
The small castle, or keep, is closely associated with the origins of the town of Buncrana, and was occupied by Sir Cahir O’Dochartaigh, who rebelled against crown forces and sacked the city of Derry, before being killed by English forces at the Battle of Kilmacrennan.
Following his death, the Keep was granted to Sir Arthur Chichester, who leased it to Englishman Henry Vaughan. Further restoration work was carried out by the Vaughan family who occupied the keep until 1718.
Further information on the project can be found at www.odohertyskeep.com.
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