The lesser horseshoe bat looks set to be crucial to secure funding for an ambitious plan to develop Moorehall and its environs.
A Master Plan for the development of the extensive area, located about 20 km from Castlebar, has now been completed and was presented to councillors at this week’s monthly meeting of Castlebar Municipal District.
The development has huge potential for county Mayo and is jointly supported by Mayo County Council, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and Coillte. The intention is to develop a national nature reserve, where the lesser horseshoe bat can be preserved and studied, while celebrating the cultural legacy of the Moore family, and creating recreational and visitor experiences.
While it had been feared that because of the protected bat species, located in the cellar of the ruined house at Moore Hall, that no restoration work could take place on the structure, but that’s not the case.
Because of the bats international significance there is now an urgency to get the ruined house - re-roofed, with windows and doors to be installed, to prevent water ingress, which may otherwise infringe on the bats in their cellar habitat.
A visitor centre to showcase the political and literary achievements of the Moore family, is also proposed at the site, along with the further restoration of the walled world class wildflower garden.
The recreation proposals are described as 'low impact' – walking, cycling, a sculpture trail, a tree top walk, and boat trips on Lough Carra.
The ambitious development is described as having the potential to attract over 90,000 visitors annually.
Local councillor Al McDonnell has been a long time campaigner for the restoration and development of the Moore Hall estate and he’s been speaking to Midwest News Editor Teresa O’Malley about the plan and the importance of the bat population in realising a dream.