Kiss your Heritage Goodbye


Coolbanagher Castle via Google Street Veiw

Please forgive me for this post as I may rant quite a bit. Words cannot describe how angry this has made me. On 24th Febuary 2014 after suffering damage during a storm 10 days earlier, Coolbanagher Castle  an early Medieval Tower Hall, built in the early 13th century was completely demolished. Many of you will already know how passionate I am about the preservation of these sites, in fact one of the main factors which influenced my photography was to preserve in images as many sites as possible. Unfortunately I never got to shoot the castle whilst it was still standing, so I guess this is the first casualty in my quest. The reason I have not written about this sad turn of events sooner was because I wanted to see the site for myself, and what a sad sight it is. The entire structure is now just a large pile of rubble. The following statement was released by the National Monument Service via their Facebook Page on the 28th Febuary.

”The Department is aware of recent events at Coolbanagher Castle, Co Laois, a Recorded Monument (LA008-015—Tower House) under the terms of the National Monuments Acts 1930-2004. The castle is in private ownership and is not maintained by the Office of Public Works, as is the case with national monuments in the ownership or guardianship of the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
On 17th February 2014, the Department was informed of the collapse of extensive sections of the structure of the Castle due to storm damage. In response to urgent health and safety concerns raised by the property owners, the Department advised that immediate engineering advice be sought and that Laois County Council be contacted as the responsible authority for dangerous buildings.
On Friday last, 21 February, the property owners informed the Department of their continuing concerns and of their intention to make the remaining structure safe. Having regard to the pressing concerns raised by the owners, the Department, on grounds of urgent necessity, granted consent for the removal of such parts of the structure as was identified as being strictly necessary to comply with specific directions from Laois County Council under dangerous buildings legislation or by a qualified engineer as being immediately and urgently necessary on the grounds of protecting public safety.
The Department is now assessing the works subsequently carried out on site in the context of the terms of the limited consent granted on 21st February.”


Demolished Castle

Now for a little history of this once fine structure. As mentioned Coolbanagher Castle dates back to the early 13th century and would have been active along with other early Anglo-Normal fortifications in the area, such as Lea Castle, Morett Castle, Shaen Castle, (which was destroyed in the 19th century to make way for a hospital). Then of course there is Rock of Dunamase. This makes Coolbanagher an extremely important piece of our history and heritage. It,s actually quite sickening to think that not more was done to protect and conserve this site. Instead of destroying the site surely the walls could have been braced or had buttresses installed to make the structure safe?

Nothing further has come to light regarding this will full destruction of an important piece of both local and National Heritage . To me it looks like the three parties involved in this fiasco are all keeping quite to cover their arses. One thing is for sure, someone needs to take responsibility for this disgrace.


Coolbanagher Castle 2005 via National Monuments Service

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About edmooneyphotography

Photographer, Blogger, Ruinhunter, with an unhealthy obsession for history, mythology and the arcane.
This entry was posted in Castles, Diary of a Ruinhunter, Historical, Medieval, Photography, Places of Interest, Ruins and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

163 Responses to Kiss your Heritage Goodbye

  1. Yes, that is a great pity. Too bad they couldn’t have arrived at a more creative solution. …

  2. chirose says:

    Oh that’s so sad. I completely agree with you…there could have been a better solution…

  3. Oh My God.!
    What a needless waste. As you say, it could have and should have been braced long ago, by a body like the National Monuments service, whether they owned it or not. What is their purpose if not to ensure these things don’t happen.
    I can see the crack clearly in their own photo. Even a temporary brace would perhaps have saved it.
    Thanks on behalf of people who care, Ed, for highlighting this, and for your dedication to all the historic sites.

  4. I hear you and agree – something (anything) could have been done – but there seems to be a lack on caring on the part of thoise involved.

  5. eponaleah says:

    I am so sorry to hear this. Something like this once lost, cannot be found again. Tragic.

  6. So incredibly sad. So sorry for your loss and the loss of a National treasure.
    All My Best,

  7. colonialist says:

    Where, one wonders, was any limitation in the consent? Can’t have been, ‘Don’t flatten the thing,’ because that’s what they’ve done. Heads should definitely roll. After being cut off v…e…r…y s…l…o…w…l…y.

  8. bamauthor says:

    Everyone is so worried about today’s problem. Such a shame we forget about our past, without which we have no future. I agree that they are covering up, but as often happens they have the power and the money to do it.

  9. sueslaght says:

    Oh dear that is a shame.

  10. Nelson says:

    It’s just sad to see something like that go away …… here in North America we do not have buildings old like that and to see one like that go away make me think how much we value our past (not much I think)

  11. kiwiskan says:

    I understand your feelings – we don’t have many buildings in New Zealand like that, but my heart was broken when the decision was made to demolish the Christchurch Cathedral after the earthquake. It was part of my childhood, and I thought they could have made an effort to save some small party of it

  12. John says:

    This is a major disgrace and slap in the face to the people. I hope proper action will be taken for the destruction this national heritage site. This, coming from an American, thousands of miles away.

  13. wildninja says:

    Ugh, that makes me sick to my stomach. I know that not every building can be saved and there are safety and financial issues to consider. It’s just that… this gem had stood for almost a thousand years already. It was a national treasure. I appreciate you posting this and your honesty.

  14. I can’t believe things like this happen! I’m especially surprised that the property owners were apparently fine with the “solution” they were offered…

  15. This has a lovely painterly quality about it and gorgeous color-

  16. Sue Karski says:

    I am so sorry to hear of the destruction. I am still hoping that one day I might be able to travel to your fair land to see some of this history in person, so I am hoping that grounds like these are saved.

  17. Mike Pratt says:

    It is too bad, and I completely agree with you that these sites should be preserved for future generations to enjoy. It’s unfortunate that those involved couldn’t have properly strengthened the structure years earlier.

  18. jmgajda says:

    I am utterly dismayed and angry that more wasn’t done to preserve a building that has stood for 800 years. It just boggles the mind! It’s so rare to see any structures made by human hands that has stood for more than 100 – 200 years, so its loss is especially terrible. When I first read that it was just a large pile of rubble I didn’t think it would be so literal! I’m really saddened that private ownership allowed a piece of priceless history to be shamelessly treated. 😦

    • I completely agree, the only way to stop this in the future is to raise awareness in the general public. If they powers that be think that they can continue to get away with this then they shall do so.
      Hopefully more people will express outrage and make them think twice about doing something like this again

  19. chris13jkt says:

    Oh what a shame . . . 😦

  20. Ken says:

    Rather disappointing to say the least. I have recently enjoyed discovering ancient ruins in Arizona and I can’t imagine how anyone would allow history to be erased like this.

  21. blosslyn says:

    I’d like to see the excuse they have for this……..unbelievable. Sorry you missed it Ed.

  22. rjmackin says:

    Something about this stinks… During the 70s and again in the celtic tiger years, the developers’ favourite trick was acquire a site with a preservation order, neglect whatever structure occupied it, burn it down, then claim the building was unsafe and should be demolished in the interest of public safety and hey presto, they’re free to build a giant Tesco…. This is still going on today under the OPW’s nose. It’s a bloody outrage. There should be compulsory purchase orders enforced for any building of historical significance….

    • I couldn’t agree more. Regardless of the incompetence of the OPW and the Minister, The National Monuments Service should have stepped in a long time ago. Strangely there was no protection order on this Castle. So they hand a free hand to do whatever they want. Then they blame lack of funding, 😦
      I would like to see anyone whom owns or buys a site which contains a heritage site to be responsible for its upkeep and protection and held accountable if they don’t look after it.
      I would give my right and left arms to have something like this in my possession.

      • rjmackin says:

        I hate to say it, but there’s no way this would have happened in the UK. The National Trust would have been on it in a flash…. We have no respect for our heritage in this country…just look at the travesty that is Aldborough House in Dublin….. that will really make you mad!

  23. Rajiv says:

    This, sadly, happens a lot

  24. Pete says:

    Reblogged this on Pete's Favourite Things and commented:
    I have re-blogged this post as it reminds us how fragile our historical remains are and how once action has been taken it is too late. I am sure this was not what the authorities intended and even if an investigation finds the owners exceeded their authority they will probably only be fined. Maybe a fitting response would be to make them, under supervision and at their cost, return it to the condition it was before. The same things happens with protected nature sites and it seems that often the land owner is willing to pay the fine just for the removal of all the hassle and restrictions that go with owning and caring for historic buildings or sites of natural importance.

  25. Hi Eddie, I share your anger at yet another loss of one of our historic buildings and I have seen many of our past structures become demolished. We have the before and after images and that is what our work is about. You at least can draw some comfort in the fact that you have immortalised in photography what once was. As hard as it is – please keep up the good work of documenting 🙂

  26. faithsfire says:

    That like is a “dislike” for the wanton destruction of history!

  27. Miss Lou says:

    How very sad!! 😦 Seems like a bit of shonky travesty of events! Such a loss of rich history and experience and story.

    Interest to hear of any updates you have in relation to this…


  28. The demolition of this building caused uproar at the time. The Department’s statement is rather vague- did an engineer survey the storm damage? Did Laois Co Co give the go-ahead ? Would the landowner have had to pay out huge sums of money to support what remained? Was it ever costed? When I first heard about it I thought someone just ‘went at it’with a digger after storm damage. There should be a full investigation, but how likely is that ?

  29. A rant is more than justified, rant on please. MM 🍀

  30. That makes me sick. One if the huge things I admire about Europe is that they preserve everything. Their not demolish happy like America

  31. Reblogged this on Jackie's Travels and commented:
    From my fellow blogger. This makes me very sad because one of the biggest things I admire about Europe is that they preserve and renovate. They are not demolish happy like America.

  32. Sorry to hear about this travesty. However, I think your passion and the photos of the castle will keep it alive through documentation.

  33. Gah! Idiots. As we lose & forget the roots of our cultures and the creativity of our ancestors, we become all the more susceptible to the media/ corporate marketing myths about who we are, what has value and the role of the individual (work, consume, shut up). This kind of thing happens constantly in US, including of course natural landmarks, wilderness, forests and the ancient presences within them. Thank you for documenting this and for sharing it with all of us. My sympathy. And outrage.

  34. Skeggjold says:

    rebloging ( thank you )

  35. Debunker says:

    Absolutely disgusting, Ed. They seem to be telling us we can’t afford a past, a present or a future at the minute but there are still plenty of bankers and politicians whose annual income would run a small theatre or repair a castle like this. It’s appalling. Thanks for bringing it to our attention, anyway. That old Wood Quay ‘hole in the ground’ mentality obviously hasn’t gone away! 😦

  36. Debunker says:

    I’ll reblog it when I get a chance …

  37. Jo Woolf says:

    What an awful thing to happen, Ed. You have got a lot of support here and I will add my own voice! It’s such a shame when the value and history of these places isn’t recognised by the people responsible for them. I agree with one previous commenter – the letter said nothing about flattening it!

    • Thank you Jo, I’ve had a great response here, will it make a difference, maybe not, but just maybe it will raise enough awareness to make them think twice before acting so irresponsible in the future.

  38. Livonne says:

    How very sad. I thought when I went to the Rock of Dunamase that once it topples, what’s left. It’s too sad to think of. 😦

    • Dont even think about that, I’m sure the rock will still be there long after we are all gone, sadly certain powers that be seem to think that they can destroy our heritage.

      Well not on my watch 🙂


  39. LB says:

    your rant is justified! So sorry ….

  40. Veronica says:

    Reblogging, thank you.

  41. Veronica says:

    Reblogged this on The Red Suitcase and commented:
    Poor castle

  42. Very unfortunate indeed

  43. julie says:

    How sad that such a beautiful treasure was destroyed. What are we as people, if we don’t remember what came before?
    Thank you for visiting

  44. Debunker says:

    Reblogged this on cassidyslangscam and commented:
    Cassidyslangscam is about challenging Daniel Cassidy and his supporters, a group of Irish-American cronies who vandalise our heritage and treat it treat it with contempt. However, this is a worse bit of cultural vandalism than Cassidy’s. At least the dictionaries are still safe from Cassidy’s nonsense. But this ‘sure it’s only a hole in the ground’ mentality is disgusting. Thanks to Ed for pointing it out and shame on the people responsible for this.

  45. Sue Vincent says:

    Such a sad reflection on the way the past is cared for. It shows in stark relief, however, the value of what you are doing, Ed.

  46. Evelyn says:

    You should see the former site of Fotheringhay Castle in England. It was completely demolished and there are a few stones in a little pile with a handpainted sign that it was Fotheringhay. This was the castle where Mary Queen of Scots was tried and executed and I’ve often wondered if her spirit willed the place to be made desolate. It was a formidable castle in its day but Mary hated it. Can’t imagine why. LOL I like the fact that you care about these sites. I’m very excited about having Ireland as my sole subject not too far in the future. Thanks Ed ! BIG KISS ! ; )

    • Wow, I did not know about that, Its outrageous that a castle with such history be destroyed like that. I believed that their was far more protection for obvious heritage sites in the UK, I guess we are all in the same boat in that respect 😦
      Are you coming over? That would be great, I would love to see more Irish sites featured. I recently explored a stunning castle ruin in Ballyadams. Should have it up for next week 🙂

  47. Past Rambles says:

    It’s important to rant about these things – but I am astounded that this destruction was able to happen 😦

  48. Philip Lee says:

    This is disgraceful and unforgivable. Was anything said in the media? Someone needs to be held accountable.

    • Very little was said, The National Monuments Service released a statement saying that they were aware of the situation and would look into it.
      In other words it will be swept under the carpet like everything else. Only myself and a handful of like minded people have being highlighting it, it would have been forgotten about 😦

  49. Ali Isaac says:

    It’s typical of the low esteem with which our ancient sites and heritage are regarded in this country, sadly. I know there isn’t much money to spare, these days, but something could have been done; where there’s a will, there’s a way. Unfortunately, whilst our precious treasures remain in the hands of private landowners, they will continue to crumble, until they reach a point where it is likely we will see more of such wanton destruction. Some landowners care about the responsibilities they have inherited with their land, but many don’t, and their priorities lie elsewhere. Thanks for highlighting this issue. Fortunately, your images are preserving, and even discovering, many other ancient places.

  50. gustaspjeroo says:

    Most human beings have a disregard for the past; we are so rooted in the now, unfortunately!

  51. Such a shame – but a great post nevertheless.

  52. I hate when people demolish and destroy such important pieces of history. History is important, it helps shape the world today. Without history there would be nothing, and destroying this history is making us more and more so into a state of nothingness.

  53. Reblogged this on Gabrielle Engel Photography and commented:
    I really, really hate important history being destroyed. Without history, our world and our lives would be nothing. Destroying these memories, these artifacts, of history is making the world today and us people of today more and more so into an unwilling state of nothingness. Why do we do such things? To make space for more stuff. Do we really need all this stuff? No. Would it cost about the same to repair these historical places? Yes. I’m sorry, I’m just really passionate about this.

  54. What a awful thing to see this demolished. We don’t even have anything that old in my country so to see such history gone, really makes me sad. As photographers, we strive to preserve history for future generations. Those who come after us can never derive the pleasure and feel the history even from our detailed and careful photographs as they can from being with the real thing.

  55. Sadly this will probably turn out to be just another example of where it has been demolished to make way for something else and make the landowners some money (redevelopment?). Greed tends to be the driver behind many of these decisions. It just saddens me.

  56. LJ Innes says:

    I’m very sorry to hear this news. But don’t you ever give up. Your work is not only beautiful but – as you now know better than before – very important. I cried when I saw that pile of rubble. Keep up your good works.

  57. Yes, i hate to see these Castles lost as they are a link to our past and once they are gone that link to the past and all that history is lost for ever. I do love castles and the history of those castles as a lot of the castles in Ireland and England were built by the Vikings.

  58. terryspear says:

    That is so sad. To see the destruction of such an iconic structure is awful. Took forever to build, added history and beauty to the landscape, and in a few minutes was nothing. And to think it had lasted so long despite the elements, but man can destroy it in so short a time and leave rubble in its wake.

  59. This is the same kind of non-caring attitude that allows a species to become extinct. These remnants from the past give us a glimpse into the lives of our ancestors. Such a shame to lose them for the sake of a bit of forethought and planning. We’re lucky that someone like you, Ed, goes to the trouble of recording what’s left of our heritage, before more of it disappears. Thank you for caring.

  60. leamuse says:

    How sad. Here in France we have many a chateaux in various states of dis-repair. In many cases the properties have fallen to the responsibility of the village where they are located and money is usually the issue.

  61. One of the post states “caring” that’s the point, people or should I say we sometimes don’t care unless it affect us. Society is us, we should care for each other and help. Bad society. Hope all works out.

  62. Tuaim says:

    I know how you feel. I was involved with the M2? the road that tore through the Gabhra Valley. That was a collusion with Spain. I think the Irish Oligarchy needs a muddy boot up their arse. I was fuming with the European assault on farmers and they’re markets. I spent a night on Tara Hill with camped people. Sept 2006. I have some pics I will send.
    By the way Ed, could you, if you chose, reverse this thread to new posts on top? It’s a long scroll down to leave a reply. Some might give up rather than page down. Just asking.
    You are doing quite a job Ed. My heart suffers just watching these things.

    • Thank you Jerry, I think a cold steel blade might be more effective than a muddy boot.
      Good point about the reverse thread, I never thought of that. I just have to figure out how too do it now 🙂

  63. Tuaim says:

    I find your muddy boot quite effective. When my technical master son wakes up, I’ll have him help you on that thread thing. I really like this layout. Cheers to you and your fine family.

  64. RDoug says:

    What an absolute pity to lose such a historic structure.

  65. Underborrowedskies says:

    What a miserable shame! It wouldn’t be so bad if they had promised to rebuild it using the stone, but just to trash it… So much for national heritage!

  66. Ross Duncan says:

    Arggggggh, this wants to make me tear out the rest of my hair, how short sighted

  67. I understand your passion and anger – especially when it seems money influenced what became a political decision. My passion is saving the wilderness and I get angry when what should be scientific decisions become politicized by corporate interests who can spend millions to influence politicians to vote in their best interest instead of future generations.

  68. Very disheartening – too bad there wasn’t some foundation that could have saved it, as maintaining one’s heritage is so vitally important. Merci, too, for visiting my blog.

  69. Hello. I don’t blame you for being upset. Every time they tear one of these gems down they’re throwing a little bit of history away. 😦

  70. akeem54 says:

    I almost miss this. Thank you for your visit. Rgds

  71. Pingback: My Photoblog Adventure 2014, A year in review Part 1 | EdMooneyPhotography

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