The Department of Transport has formally requested State funding to keep Shannon Heritage sites open beyond the end of this month, Clare TD Joe Carey has confirmed.

Following a lengthy review process, the Department of Transport sent a submission to Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath on Monday evening supporting calls locally to keep our heritage sites open on a year-round basis.

Deputy Carey said: “The memo from the department includes detailed costings to keep our iconic heritage sites open all year, protecting the direct and indirect jobs and sending out the crucial message that the Mid-West region remains open for business.

“Minister McGrath was expecting this submission and I met with him a few weeks back to discuss the need for a positive outcome to this request. The deadline is approaching quickly and I made further representations to Minister McGrath on the issue today.

“It’s hugely important we get a positive outcome and I welcome the Department of Transport’s formal request for funding to ensure our heritages sites, which can provide a vital economic lifeline for Clare and Mid-West while foreign travel restrictions remain in place for the foreseeable future, can stay open all year round.”

Bunratty Castle & Folk Park and St John’s Castle in Limerick are currently open to the public but are due to close again at the end of August. Other key sites such as Craggaunowen Castle, Knappogue Castle and Dunguaire Castle remain closed, which has created great uncertainty among Shannon Heritage employees.

The local Fine Gael TD, who recently met with Shannon Heritage workers outside Bunratty Castle & Folk Park (pictured), has repeatedly called for the heritage sites to remain open so that they can benefit from the switch to domestic staycations as a result of the pandemic.

Deputy Carey has also called for Shannon Heritage sites to be transferred from the control of the Shannon Group to Clare County Council or the Office of Public Works.