The owners of Inch Castle have issued an urgent appeal on public safety grounds for people not to trespass on the site.
The historic landmark is privately owned by the Doherty family, so unauthorised visitors are trespassing.
In a statement, the Doherty family say that there is a serious risk of injury, as the castle has been a ruin for centuries.
They say that trespassers also pose a risk to the protection of the castle ruins.
The statement continues:
"We are concerned about a recent increase in trespassers, following publicity on social media and local radio.
We wish to emphasise that none of the comments made in these media have been authorised by the family.
We are particularly concerned that information was given on air, indicating how people could reach Inch Castle.
We feel that issuing this information may be harmful to public safety. It has encouraged people to trespass, to risk their safety and to endanger the protection of the castle ruins."
The family specifically seek to clarify the following issues:
• Inch Castle is a recorded monument. So, the owners liaise with the National Monuments Service about safety on the site, and maintenance issues like fencing.
• However, the castle ruins themselves do not fall under the OPW so have never been funded by the State for repair and upkeep. The Castle was built in the 1400’s and had fallen into a state of disrepair by 1609. Our understanding is that due to its cliffside location, restoration is not a viable nor safe option.
• The “Save Inch Castle” campaign does not represent the Doherty family. Neither the owners nor the National Monuments Service were consulted about setting it up. In fact, we have formally requested that the campaign’s Facebook Page be taken down because of the increase in trespassing.
• Inch Castle ruins and lands should not be accessed, from either the shoreline or adjoining farmland. Unauthorised visitors are trespassing.
• The Doherty family, as owners of both the castle and the grounds, have sole authority for the protection of the site, in liaison with the National Monuments Service.
• The Doherty family will continue to protect the site but need the co-operation of the public and the media to prevent trespassing.
• The owners are exploring funding for the addition of historical information plaques or signs close to the site. We want to honour and mark the important heritage of Inch Castle in a way which protects the ruins. We believe signage in a publicly accessible viewing spot can help preserve the ruins, while allowing the public to engage with them from a safe distance.
We have referred to the marked increase in visitors, following recent publicity around the Facebook page “Save Inch Castle”. A pinned post at the top of this page clearly advises people not to visit the castle.
However, the family is upset that the page and campaign was set up without any consultation with them or the National Monuments Service.
We again appeal to the owners of the Facebook Page, ‘Save Inch Castle’, to take it down. The unfortunate reality is that it is inadvertently attracting more attention to the castle and encouraging people to trespass on it, which is counterproductive to its’ preservation. We may ultimately need to consider further measures to prevent trespassing if the monument and public safety continue to be put at risk.
It is heartening to see how the castle is appreciated and loved by the whole community.
The family want to thank the public for their wonderful, shared interest in preserving the site at Inch Castle.
They will continue to consult with the relevant authorities on an ongoing basis and be guided by their expertise.