Tourism boost as council buys Croghan Hill
27th June 2018
ONE of Offaly's most prominent landmarks, Croghan Hill, will be developed as a tourist attraction.
Offaly County Council is buying 15 acres at the top of the hill in a move which will clear the way to it being opened up fully to the public.
An extinct volcano with more recent associations with St Patrick and St Brigid, the 234-metre high hill in north Offaly commands views across the Midlands.
It is also the location of a pre-Christian burial mound and an early Christian monastic site, with a graveyard situated there which is already in public ownership.
The hill is visible from many parts of the Midlands and the council's heritage officer, Amanda Pedlow, said on Monday the view of it from the Dublin-Galway motorway had seen it gain even more recognition.
While there has been access to the hill, which Ms Pedlow described as the “stump of a volcano” dating from when Ireland was underwater, visitors have been relying on the goodwill of local landowners.
Arrangements for access had never been “formalised” but that could now happen and discussions had already taken place with the relevant farmers.
The discovery of the “bog body” near the hill also focussed attention on the area's archaeological and historical merit.
“From the hill you can view Oldcroghan townland where Oldcroghan Man was found and is in the National Musuem now,” said Ms Pedlow.
The hill could become an important part of Ireland's Ancient East, she added, also noting that the top field becomes a sea of colour at this time of the year because no fertiliser is spready on it.
“This is a really fantastic chapter for Offaly's heritage,” said Ms Pedlow. “We need to do a bit more work on getting it ready but nothing that's insurmountable.”
Cllr Liam Quinn, local man and outgoing chair of the council, welcomed the purchase, saying it was very significant for north Offaly in particular, an area sometimes overlooked compared to south and mid-Offaly with attractions like Birr Castle and Clonmacnoise.
“This is something that the people of Croghan and our parish in Rhode and Croghan, are very, very proud of,” said Cllr Quinn.
The Fine Gael councillor said the hill had been “slightly underexplored” but that will now change with investment, formal access and proper signage.
He also pointed out that it is close to the Grand Canal, offering opportunities for climbing it for people using the Grand Canal greenway which is currently being developed.
Cllr Quinn also said people in the locality had sought to have the hill in public ownership for many years and he had worked with the heritage office and the director of service in the council.
“The summit of the hill offers commanding views of the province of Leinster and is a very popular attraction to both locals and visitors alike,” said the councillor.
“We now intend to apply to the Department for funding under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme to do the necessary work on this site such as reinstating the original walkway and providing signage that explains the various features on the site.
“I will be working with Minister Michael Ring TD to ensure that the outstanding funding to deliver this project is delivered under the 2018 Town and Village Renewal Scheme.
“It has been a long held ambition of mine to see this project undertaken and I am delighted that this has been achieved during my term as Cathaoirleach,” Cllr Quinn concluded.