Work finally starts on €2.2m round tower visitors' centre
The Clondalkin Round Tower Visitors' Centre and Gardens are to finally go ahead after contracts were signed with builders.
South Dublin County Council published a tender for the job in 2015 and now work can start on the much-anticipated project.
A budget of €2.2m has been ring-fenced for the new tourist attraction at the historic site in the village.
Construction is due to last 12 months and the centre is set to be completed and opened in 2017.
Initially it had been hoped that the centre would be complete by later this year.
The project will include the refurbishment of the 19th-century mill cottages at numbers 1, 2 and 3 Millview Terrace. Numbers 15 and 16 Tower Road will also be upgraded.
The cottages will house a series of exhibition spaces and a small shop. A new extension to the rear of the cottages will contain a cafe.
A new public plaza will be built on Tower Road in front of the centre. The cafe area will have a terrace with views of the 7th century round tower and a new garden.
Locals have long lobbied for the round tower to be restored and used as a tourist attraction to bring more visitors to the area.
The upgrades will fit in with a plan to link villages in the west Dublin community with the parks in the area to create a joined-up trail.
"This will ultimately deliver an integrated tourism experience featuring heritage trails, an outdoor park and canal-side walks.
Local community groups have been working with the council on exhibitions to be housed in the new centre.
According to the council the centre "will offer insight into Clondalkin's early Christian heritage, including the history of round towers and monastic centres in Ireland, and will also illustrate the urban development of Clondalkin, its people and stories over the last 1,200 years.
"The building is designed to accommodate other temporary exhibitions and children's activities promoted and organised by South Dublin's Libraries and Arts Office. The new development will complement the active local scene in Irish language, music and culture."
Sinn Fein councillor Mark Ward said construction was under way already and locals were "over the moon".
"It's a boost to the area and it's what the area needs," he said,
"It should give the area a good makeover.
"The round tower is symbolic of Clondalkin, so to have it as a centre piece in the area is fantastic," he said.
"People are already getting excited about it."
Gem Construction has been chosen to carry out the works.
The Longford-based company has previously worked with the council on other refurbishment projects.