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Georgian mansion in Tipperary with a rich history is being left to rack and ruin, warn campaigners

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Knocklofty House in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, is falling asunder due to disrepair, thieves and vandals

Knocklofty House in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, is falling asunder due to disrepair, thieves and vandals

Knocklofty House in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, is falling asunder due to disrepair, thieves and vandals

One of the country’s most famous big houses is at risk of irreversible damage unless emergency action is taken to protect the structure, campaigners have warned.

Knocklofty House in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, has been repeatedly targeted by vandals and thieves in recent years and the Save Knocklofty House (SKH) campaign has now warned that the damage has reached “ferocious levels”.

The 18th-century property has been described as “a historic jewel” – with campaigners warning that a €10,000 Government grant, under the Built Heritage Investment Scheme, is totally insufficient to protect the future of the palatial property.

“It is frustrating to see the decay of this protected structure still continues,” one SKH volunteer warned.

“The building has been ferociously damaged due to years of neglect... works (need to be done urgently) to mitigate the damage caused by rain and damp.”

Campaigners said it was crucial that the roof and seals of Knocklofty House be secured because another winter of damage could put the entire structure of the house at risk.

The house has been consistently damaged – and the re is growing concern that a future attack could result in catastrophic damage.

Once the home of the Earl of Donoughmore, Knocklofty was converted 40 years ago into a luxury hotel.

However, it has been vacant over recent years since the hotel closed – and has recently been targeted by squatters, vandals and thieves.

The latest theft involved the lead flashing from the roof – leaving the interior entirely exposed to the wind and rain.

Heritage campaigners warned that if urgent action isn’t taken, Knocklofty could follow the example of a similar great house – Kilmurry in Cork – which was virtually rendered a ruin due to the actions of thieves and vandals over the past 20 years.

An Taisce warned that people are horrified at what has been done to Knocklofty – and its likely imminent fate unless something is done.

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Tipperary County Council said it is aware of the problem, has assessed
what has been done to the property and is liaising with the owner over the best course of action.

Heritage Minister Malcolm Noonan, of the Green Party, sanctioned a €10,000 grant last March to tackle issues of damp at Knocklofty.

However, campaigners – including SKH – warned that this sum is not enough to secure the future of the property.

Tipperary councillor Máirín McGrath warned that a house which is steeped in history and could prove a huge asset to the local tourism economy cannot be left to a fate of dereliction and possible ruin.

Ms McGrath said she was “very shocked” at the damage caused to the house and how both the exterior and interior were now  deteriorating rapidly.  She added that what had been done to the famous property was “a great shame”.

Knocklofty was built in 1790 with further additions completed in the 19th and 20th centuries.

At its peak, the stately home was regarded as one of the great Anglo-Irish mansions in Munster.

The Georgian mansion is located almost 7km from Clonmel and was owned by the Earl of Donoughmore’s family until the 1980s.

Knocklofty earned national headlines in June 1974 when Lord and Lady Donoughmore were kidnapped by the IRA from the property as part of a ransom plot.

Both elderly aristocrats were released unharmed in Dublin’s Phoenix Park five days later after forming an unlikely bond with their abductors.

Now, Knocklofty House is deemed to be among Ireland’s 10 most endangered structures.

Knocklofty House is currently included on Tipperary County Council’s list of protected structures, and an enforcement officer has visited the site.


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