Growing impatience over De Burgh lands opening in Naas

Concern: There are fears that the site will deteriorate unless it is opened up to the public

Paul O'Meara

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Paul O'Meara

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Growing impatience over De Burgh lands opening in Naas

Timmy Conway

Ex-Naas councillor Timmy Conway wants the lands at the former De Burgh estate to be taken over by Kildare County Council and made accessible to the public.

Some 15 acres of land at the estate are destined to be opened up to the public.

This arrangement dates back some 15 years when an agreement was drawn up between the owners of the land and a development company, which acquired lands for development purposes.

Mr. Conway, a former member of Naas Town Council and a former senator, wants KCC to to take the necessary steps to have the lands made available for public use and to open them to the public.

“My fear is that they won’t be opened up to the public because not all of the land is accessible. Kildare County Council should go in and see what needs to be done to clean up the site and to take control of it, if possible,” Mr. Conway said.

The lands are mainly woodland with some walks, a small waterfall and a pond, known as the octagonal pond. There is a well on the land, known as st. Patrick’s Well, where St. Patrick is said to have baptised the Kings of Leinster. The Irish translation of Naas is the 'Meeting Place of the Kings'.

“I believe this a problem that must be resolved because this area is the jewel in the crown of Naas; some say it’s on a par with the Japanese Gardens. There was some damage caused by Storm Ophelia and I haven’t seen anybody in there from the council.”

He added: ”I’m a former Mayor who was part of the agreement with the De Burgh family who once owned the estate for the transfer of land to public use and I think not enough people within the county council are interested enough. If KCC don’t look after this site it could deteriorate and could become derelict.”

Mr. Conway said the cost of the work need not be significant because a high level of maintenance work has been ongoing, carried out by a person working there. “I remember boats being rowed there. I’ve been walking there for 40 years and I don’t want this to become an irreplaceable asset that’s lost,”he stated.

He acknowledged that there is a cost associated with opening up the lands to the public and KCC may have concerns about the bill but ”there is an amenity for the community here”.

After, the second World War Major John De Burgh returned home and took control of the estate.

He turned the estate into one of the best stud farms in the country and spent a lot of money developing the gardens and woods.

Mr. Conway said he always wanted the woods transferred to the people of Naas for their enjoyment.

Up to recently the lack of money was put forward as a reason for the delay in opening the grounds. The then Naas Town Council and Kildare County Council said resources were not available and the lands haven’t been transferred to the local authority until relatively recently.

Independent politician Seamie Moore, who was also a member of the local authority when the transfer of lands for community use was first mooted, has pursued the issue with Kildare County Council.

Four months ago he asked if money collected from development levies or even the EU (through a fund to promote sustainable projects) could be used to do the necessary work.

KCC says a “masterplan” is being prepared for 15 acres of amenity lands owned by it at Oldtown Demesne. However until this is completed, it is not possible to say when the lands will be ready to be opened up to the public. KCC said the lands are a “valuable community asset” and it is KCC's intention “to use them in that capacity.”