Fables of the reconstruction

A recent post about historic buildings in Ireland that have been endangered by the collapse of the property market got me thinking.

Ireland has always been careless of its architectural heritage.

The litany of crimes include the destruction of Georgian Dublin in the late 60’s and early 70’s in the name of progress, the sabotage of majestic stately homes throughout the country during the War of Independence and subsequent Civil War and the less deliberate but equally ruinous neglect of grand estates left in the care of local councils.

And even in these so called enlightened times, the depredation continues. Historic Houses are being preserved only by the grace of private developers, as exclusive golf resorts, hotels and luxury residential properties, rather than as public amenities.

It’s a sad reflection on planning authorities which have been dogged by corruption and it shows a failure of imagination on behalf of the government who should have perceived the value of our heritage and taken decisive action to preserve it for future generations.

NGO’s like the Irish Landmark Trust are doing fantastic work to salvage what they can from the rubble but the OPW are too slow, too inflexible and too inefficient to make a real difference. The National Trust in the UK has shown how conservation can become self-sustaining. They currently operate over 300 historic buildings, along with gardens, parks and monuments.

They also receive funding from the UK National Lottery. Perhaps our Lottery money would be better spent on preserving our historic monuments than building yet another GAA pitch in Clara

Bushy Park House. Apartment development and housing estate

Bushy Park House. Apartment development and housing estate

Bushy Park House in its heyday

Bushy Park House in its heyday

Castleboro House, Wexford. Burned in the War of Independence

Castleboro House, Wexford. Burned in the War of Independence

Carton House, Kildare. Luxury Hotel

Carton House, Kildare. Luxury Hotel

Connaught House, Bray. Now Luxury Apartments

Connaught House, Bray. Now Luxury Apartments

Kenure House Rush. Demolished by the council after falling into disrepair

Kenure House Rush. Demolished by the council after falling into disrepair

St Anne's House Clontarf. Demolished by the council after falling into disrepair

St Anne’s House Clontarf. Demolished by the council after falling into disrepair

St Helen's Booterstown Luxury Hotel

St Helen’s Booterstown Luxury Hotel

Templemore Abbey, Tipperary. Burned in the War of Independence

Templemore Abbey, Tipperary. Burned in the War of Independence

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