Anger at removal of Tully Castle gardens

Tully Castle has lost it's attractive gardens and hedges    RMG02

Tully Castle has lost it’s attractive gardens and hedges RMG02

ONE OF Fermanagh’s finest historical landmarks and tourist attractions – Tully Castle – has had it’s Elizabethan style gardens uprooted and there are fears the site will effectively be ‘returned to nature’. 
There is anger that not enough was done in terms of tourism promotion to encourage visitors on one of the busiest roads in the county to stop off at one of the best and most intact examples of an Elizabethan plantation castle in all of Ulster.
The castle is one of Fermanagh’s historic jewels boasting an idyllic location on the shores of Lower Lough Erne. The grounds surrounding the castle hosted a 17th century style garden for tourists to enjoy but to many of the local people’s dismay, the beautiful and historical gardens have been ravaged.
David Bailey of Blaney’s Caravan Park is furious that one of Fermanagh’s tourist attractions has been effectively downscaled rather than preserved and promoted.
 “Everything that was planted has been removed and I am furious about it because it was a big tourist attraction. The castle itself is locked and there is no longer an attendant on site. The gardens would have cost thousands to plant and maintain so to just take it out of the ground is a waste of money. For someone to come along and take this away from the rural community is a disgrace.”
Michael Skuce, vice-chairman of Derrygonnelly Partnership, was at the castle on Saturday and believes that there is not enough being done to attract tourists to the site.
“A lot of people are annoyed about the removal of the herb garden and there is a lot of chat about cuts in services. For attractions like Tully Castle the council needs to take responsibility and ensure that they are promoting local tourism. 
“This is a local site and there is not enough being done to exploit or use it to it’s full potential. Derrygonnelly Partnership are trying to promote the area and increase footfall in the area, but if there are service cuts, it will have a big impact on the tourism.”
Among those concerned about the removal of the gardens is local MP Tom Elliott, who is concerned about the impact of the tourism industry in the area. 
“I am aware that the gardens have recently been cut down and levelled off with plans to add topsoil to its surface in the coming weeks. Many tourists from Northern Ireland and further afield visit the gardens, along with the stunningly located castle to explore these beautifully landscaped gardens and lakeside walks.
“The removal of gardens at Tully Castle has the potential to negatively affect tourism in the surrounding areas, these gardens form part of a much wider tourist experience of services, attractions and events in the area.”
While the works have angered and disappointed those in the local area, the Historic Environment Division have claimed that the removal of the garden was for maintenance reasons rather than to cut costs.
A departmental spokesperson said: “The Department has carried out a range of work at Tully Castle in recent years, to present the site to visitors and provide a venue for community events. With the passage of time, the vegetation within the garden had become over-mature and much of it needed to be removed. Taking into account the most likely landscaping when the castle was occupied, the Department decided that it was most authentic to replace the ornamental garden with lawns. The work to do this is largely complete. 
“No monuments or ancient structures have been removed from the site as a result of these works. The works were completed as a necessary management task and not to save costs.”

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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