By Elizabeth Lee
A GROUP of concerned individuals have just launched a campaign, Save the Strawhall Woodlands, in a bid to protect a wood that’s up for sale in Carlow town.
The land is part of the Carlow Gateway complex and is over 12 acres in size, with access from the Athy Road. The wood is currently zoned for community, educational or institutional purposes and is part of a property owned by Greencore. The entire estate features the historic Strawhall House and courtyard, the Carlow Gateway business centre, industrial buildings and other lands. The estate, for sale by Tomas M Byrne & Sons in Carlow town, may be sold in its entirety or in six separate lots.
The Save the Strawhall Woodlands group is concerned about the 12.4 acres of woodland, which has direct access from the Athy Road, just across from the disused sugar factory site.
Sinéad Tynan formed the Save the Strawhall Woodlands group last week, when she heard that the Carlow Gateway complex was up for sale. She’s concerned that the wood will be destroyed if the land is sold and is rezoned for residential development. She and another campaigner, Tanya O’Neill from the Clean Carlow voluntary group, are currently trying to establish the kinds of trees that are in the woods and their ages.
“This is a gem of a woodland. It has to be saved because we believe that there are 100-year-old oak trees there,” said Sinéad.
Sinéad also wants Carlow County Council to safeguard the wood’s future by buying the land and preserving the trees, as well as making it into a public amenity. She also said that the location of the woods would make it ideal as an educational amenity for schools in the area.
Sinéad’s father, retired businessman Eamonn Tynan, set up the Springhill Trust, which has joined the campaign to protect the Strawhall woods. Eamonn has pledged that the Springhill Trust would support the campaign by either donating funds to help buy the land, or by helping out with the future care and maintenance of the trees.
The Springhill Trust has helped similar projects in the past, as Eamonn’s business was in making kitchens.
“Because we were involved in making kitchens, our own products were made of wood, so our interests are in forestry,” explained Eamonn.
He has emailed Green Party leader Eamonn Ryan and Carlow County Council about his concerns for the woods. He also thinks that site owners Greencore, which also owned and closed the sugar factory, should donate the woods to the people of Carlow.
When contacted by ***The Nationalist***, Carlow County Council said that the sale of the Carlow Gateway complex was a private one and that it had no comment to make on the subject.
The campaigners are determined to rustle up awareness and support and are calling on groups, businesses and organisations to join them.
“This is a gem of woodlands and we’re going to save it, whatever we have to do,” vowed Sinéad.
To lend support to the campaign, email [email protected].