Monday 21 May 2018

Lissadell new lease of life as it prepares for Yeats's birthday

Lissadell House
Lissadell House
John Perry TD and Eddie Walsh at Lissadell House
Jane and Elenor Walsh with Heather Humphreys, who was at at Lissadell House to launch the Yeats Birthday Party event. Photo: James Connolly / PicSell8
Eddie Walsh Jnr has his camera ready at Lissadell House. Photo: James Connolly / PicSell8

Adam Cullen and Paddy Clancy

ARTS Minister Heather Humphreys has hinted that the Government may help keep Lissadell Estate in business.

On a visit to the privately owned Sligo tourism attraction, she said that her department was committed to protecting Ireland's built heritage.

"As the economy continues to improve, I hope to be in a position to gradually increase supports for the upkeep and preservation of historic buildings. Lissadell is a fantastic asset for Co Sligo, both in terms of the local community and as a major draw for tourists," she said.

Ms Humprheys did not promise any immediate financial aid, but she indicated that she was planning to become more involved in increasing supports for the upkeep and preservation of historic buildings such as Lissadell.

Ms Humphrey's comments came as she paid her first visit to the house to announce the Great WB Yeats Birthday Party on June 13. She said that country houses such as Lissadell are "unique and irreplaceable" institutions of Irish history.

The State opted out of buying Countess Constance Markievicz's birthplace when it was available for €3.5m in 2003.

Instead, the magnificent country manor was snapped up by barrister couple Eddie Walsh and Constance Cassidy. The pair poured €13m of their own money into buying and restoring the 1830s estate in a bid to create a major tourism attraction and concert centre.

However, the family were forced to close it for nearly four years while they battled a right-of-way challenge with Sligo County Council.

The couple won their Supreme Court case in November 2013 after a ruling that there was a right of way to just 375 metres of pathways out of 5km at the centre of the dispute.

The council was left with a €9m legal bill as a result of the proceedings.

Mr Walsh refused to step back on to the estate during the three years of legal wrangling and claimed he would never reopen it to the public again.

But he admitted he "was elated" by public support during the court battle and Taoiseach Enda Kenny reopened Lissadell last June.

Irish Independent

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