Mr John Gormley, TD, Minister for the Environment, Heritage
and Local Government addressed the sixth annual Historic Houses
of Ireland Conference held in the National University of Ireland,
"The work carried out by the Centre for the Study of
Historic Irish Houses and Estates - which is located here
in NUI Maynooth - is hugely important. This conference is,
undoubtedly, the annual highlight of the Centre's work and
makes an important contribution towards the work of protecting
our built heritage - providing a forum for exchange of information
and an opportunity for networking and debate. I am pleased
that my Department is in a position to sponsor the event again
The Minister updated the conference on some key achievements
in relation to protection of built heritage in the past 12
months. "One basic - but important - measure of the progress
made is the record increase of over 40% in grant funding to
support built heritage in 2008 with total funding this year
of €25m." The Minister also referred to tax relief
available for works to heritage properties and gardens under
Section 482 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997.
Minister Gormley stated that the Advice Series for Owners
(of protected structures) produced by his Department, will
continue in 2008 with the publication of a guide to the repair
of thatch, historic ironwork, historic brickwork and traditional
slate roofs. He referred to the issue of sustainability of
the older buildings and acknowledged that there are particular
challenges in this regard when working with a protected structure.
However, he stated that his Department will shortly establish
a working group of interested parties with a view to publishing
advice on sustainable options for Historic Homes and Protected
Structures in 2009.
Referring to his Department's Gardens & Designed Landscapes
survey, the Minister said - "the first phase of the project
has been published on the website buildingsofireland.ie"
He continued by saying fieldwork has been completed in County
Louth and that fieldwork in County Donegal will take place
over the next few months.
The Minister referred to the acquisition by the Irish Heritage
Trust of Fota House and his recent visit to the property."The
range of activities for people of all ages - including educational
activities aimed at very young children - struck me as a real
demonstration of the potential that heritage properties have
in terms of education and leisure.
"It is essential that as much public access as possible
is provided in order to promote a greater appreciation of
our built heritage and the need to support and protect it."