Minister pledges support for community hotel in Roscrea as he opens refurbished tourist attraction

There were protests in the Tipperary town earlier this year when its only remaining hotel, Racket Hall, became a centre for asylum seekers

Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan has pledged to work with ministerial colleagues Heather Humphreys and Roderic O’Gorman to develop a community hotel in Roscrea as he opened a near €1 million investment in a tourism attraction in the north Tipperary town.

Minister for the OPW Mr O’Donovan visited Roscrea to open a €900,000 investment in the refurbishment of 13th century Roscrea Castle. There were protests in the town earlier this year when its only remaining hotel, Racket Hall, became a centre for asylum seekers.

The Government subsequently pledged to acquire the former Damer Court Hotel near the castle and develop it as a community hotel, with local Tipperary Fianna Fáil TD Jackie Cahill and Fianna Fáil councillor Michael Smith obtaining a commitment from Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman to progress the plan.

Mr O’Donovan, a Fine Gael TD, has pledged his support for the proposal, saying he will push for it with both the Minister for Rural Development Ms Humphreys and Mr O’Gorman.


“The OPW has invested almost €1 million in the refurbishment of Roscrea Castle and the Damer House, which is a fantastic visitor attraction here in the centre of the town, but I would see this as the start rather than the end of the process in terms of OPW involvement,” he said. “But now that this investment is complete, the most important thing is that we get people stopping off in Roscrea and visiting the castle, and the more people we get through the gate, the more justification I have to spend more money here.”

Mr O’Donovan would not be drawn on OPW projections on visitor numbers, but conceded Roscrea Castle was coming from a low base having been “virtually mothballed since Covid”. However, he expressed confidence it would be a significant addition to the tourism product in Tipperary.

“A lot of people travel up and down the M7 who are not aware this place is here at all – we need to get even a small share of those people to come off the motorway into Roscrea – it won’t just benefit our numbers but will be a boost to the local coffee shops and restaurants in the hospitality sector.”

Mr O’Donovan said the OPW would work with the local community in Roscrea as well as local heritage groups and Tipperary County Council as it had done in Cashel, Cahir, Nenagh and Thurles to further enhance the tourism product that it can offer through such conservation work.

A stone motte castle dating from the 1280s, Roscrea Castle was a Butler stronghold for over four centuries before falling to Cromwellian forces in 1650. In 1798 it served as a barracks, housing 350 soldiers, and it later served as a school, a library and a sanatorium. The castle includes in its courtyard Damer House, an early 18th century pre-Palladian house that fell into disrepair in the 19th century.

The castle’s three-year restoration by the OPW involved upgrading of lighting and fire and safety works in the Gate Tower, as well as works to repair stone jambs, sills, keystones and lintels on the north and east facade of Damer House, a national monument, to prevent water ingress into the fabric of the house.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times