29/05/2014: Minister Deenihan to re-open Grantstown Wood and Lake Nature Reserve
Thursday, 29 May, 2014: The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan T.D., will today at 1pm re-open Grantstown Wood and Lake Nature Reserve at Ballycolla, Co. Laois.
Grantstown Wood and Lake was established as a nature reserve in 1982. It was formally part of the Castletown estate and is located near Grantstown Manor, which was owned by Lord Castletown until the 1930s. In 1962 Grantstown Wood came into the hands of the Irish land Commission who passed it on to the Forest Service for commercial forestry purposes. The site is considered to be a jewel in the crown amongst the amenity, tourism and nature conservation sites in Co. Laois. It is said that the hill overlooking the lake is the site where the high kings of Ossory were crowned. A crannóg in the centre of the lake dates back to the Bronze Age. Its value for nature conservation soon became apparent and in 1982 the then Minister for Fisheries and Forestry made an order establishing Grantstown Wood and Lake as a Nature Reserve.
In recent times, the site had fallen out of use and the wood was blocked for a number of years. The National Parks and Wildlife Service, local anglers association and landowners have been collaborating on site management and native woodland restoration since 2007. Public visitor access has now been fully restored, with new paths and fishing stands designed to universal access standards.
Speaking ahead of the re-opening, Minister Deenihan said: “Organisations that are local to a specific area are the organisations that are best able to cater for the precise needs of that area. This was a highly successful project and I commend all those local organisations who were involved – The National Parks & Wildlife Service of my own Department, The Laois Partnership Company, Leader Partnership Portal, Laois Tourism, the local angling club and local landowners. Their contribution in co-operating with and helping my officials to develop this wonderful resource for the people of Laois, is very much appreciated and is a partnership model which I fully support.”