IRELAND’S first offshore whiskey distillery has been granted planning permission.
Project manager for the Cape Clear enterprise, Seamus O’Drisceoil, confirmed that the application – which was submitted by the island co-operative Comharchumann Chléire Teo – has been given the go-ahead.
The decision clears the way for the provision of an integrated whiskey distillery and associated developments, such as a mash house, fermentation building, stills building and decanting area.
In addition to the actual production works, permission has also been granted to build a visitors’ centre and a shop – all of which will enhance the island’s potential to attract year-round tourists.
The decision follows a protracted planning process, which saw the withdrawal of the initial investor, the submission of a fresh planning application by the island co-operative, and the Council’s decision to invalidate that application because the requisite planning notices were not put on display.
Mr O’Drisceoil estimated that more than €200,000 has been spent in relation to the planning process, and he thanked everyone who supported the project, including the islanders who funded the process from their personal finances’.
He praised Adrian Fitzgibbon, who had the initial idea to create a distillery on Cape Clear, as well as Údaras na Gaeltachta and the Coiste of Comharchumann Chléire Teo for also supporting the project.
He said: ‘Adrian Fitzgibbon selected a very professional and competent team in drawing up the original proposal, and we’d also like to thank Bruno Teillard of Auqageo Services for establishing the extent of the water resources on the island, and Irish Water who have been helpful at all times.’
He said the next challenge would be to bring the project to an investor-ready stage. ‘We are already working on that and hope to have the project back on track in the months ahead.’
The site of the proposed distillery is the old fish farm site on the island, and it has been estimated that the project would cost between €5m and €7m to develop.
Mr O’Drisceoil also told The Southern Star: ‘The project would have the potential to raise the profile of Cape Clear on a global level. Ideally, our aim would be to have the Cape Clear brand of whiskey available in every duty free shop in the world.’