Friday 27 April 2018

Eoghan Harris: Big House always had the power to divide

Eoghan Harris

Eoghan Harris

My wife Gwen rightly refuses to read newspapers online. Last week she kept reading me out bits of drama. Michael Noonan bravely burning his bridges and snippets from the De Valera-Collins duet that is Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane. But like a lot of Irish people, I prefer to live in the past, and spent the week pondering the Lissadell House story.

Lissadell House was the childhood home of Constance Markiewicz (for whom I have as small a regard as Sean O'Casey did), and her sister Eva Gore-Booth, whom I always admired because she was a sane socialist and pacifist, and not a loony like her sister who shot an unarmed policeman in 1916.

Back in 2003, the house was going to rack and ruin. Sligo Co Council could have bought it cheaply but did not do so. Luckily, the wealthy Walsh-Cassidy family bought it for €3.75m, pumped another €10m into restoring it, opened it to the public and got 4,000 visitors in 2008.

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