Blarney Castle owner appeals plans for nearby development

Charles Colthurst argues tourist hot spot and protected structure is ‘visually sensitive’

The owner of one of Ireland’s most popular tourist attractions, Blarney Castle in Cork, has stalled plans for a planned 120-bed nursing home and 29 detached houses.

Last month Cork County Council gave the go-ahead to Hydro Estates Ltd for the nursing home houses at St Ann’s Hill, Kilnamucky, Tower, Blarney.

However, the plans are now on hold, with Blarney Castle owner Charles Colthurst lodging an appeal against the decision to An Bord Pleanála.

Last year Blarney Castle featured in the top 10 fee-paying attractions with 460,000 visitors.


McCutcheon Halley, planning consultants acting for Mr Colthurst, claim the proposed development “will have a significant negative visual impact” on Blarney Castle.

The nursing home is to be built on the site of the former St Ann’s Hydropathic Establishment.

Visually sensitive

The planning consultants for Mr Colthurst pointed out that Blarney Castle is a protected structure. “Most visitors to Blarney climb to the top of the castle to kiss the Blarney Stone and are afforded 360-degree views of the surrounding countryside.

“The castle’s value as a national tourism asset is intrinsically linked with views from the top of the castle, making the protected structure visually sensitive.”

The appeal said the proposed development at St Ann’s Hill would have a significant negative visual impact on the castle and is not consistent with the Special Policy Area Objective to allow “small-scale” residential development and to ensure that the special and unique character of the site is conserved and enhanced.

The Cork County Council decision to give the plan the go-ahead stated that the development would not seriously injure the amenities of the area and would be in accordance with the proper planning and development of the area.

A decision is due on the appeal in January.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times