Minister Gormley addresses 6th Annual Historic Houses Conference


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, Maynooth.

"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 this year."

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" 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."