OFFICE of Public Works minister Seán Canney saw at first hand the potential of Altamont House and Gardens on a recent visit.
Minister of state for the OPW and Flood Relief, Mr Canney was in Altamont Gardens to meet representatives of Carlow Tourism and he was accompanied on his visit by junior minister for tourism and sport Patrick O’Donovan.
The visit was part of push instigated by Carlow County Council, Carlow Tourism and deputy Pat Deering to progress renovation works at Altamont.
Deputy Deering said the visit was held so that minister Canny could see the “potential of Altamont at first hand”.
Visitor numbers have roughly stalled around the 50,000 mark in recent years and the tea rooms in particular are seen as a way of pushing the visitor numbers towards 100,000.
Minister Canney described Altamont Gardens as “a major tourist attraction in the southeast”.
“It is contributing much to the benefit of the local economy,” he said.
The OPW is taking a phased approach to developing Altamont House and Gardens. A tender document is being prepared for a new roof on the house, while upgrading the waste-water treatment system at the property is expected to begin in the summer.
The OPW is close to submitting planning permission for the tea rooms at the house, according to deputy Deering.
“It’s a hugely ambitious project to renovate the house and it’s going to cost a substantial amount of money,” he said.
The tea rooms would be located in the basement of Altamont House and would cater for between 50 and 60 visitors at any one time. If planning permission is granted, work on the tea rooms could begin this year.
Altamont is part of the Carlow Garden Trail, which is actively promoted by the OPW and Carlow Tourism.
Altamont Gardens has been included in a programme of OPW heritage projects which have been submitted for consideration by Fáilte Ireland for capital grant assistance towards the costs of development works.