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Landlord class left fine heritage

Madam -- Charles Lysaght considers that the Anglo-Irish were misunderstood and that Irish history has simply jettisoned them as irrelevant (Sunday Independent, April 22, 2012). There is no doubt the destruction and neglect of Ireland's 'Big Houses' is one of the quiet tragedies of the twentieth century. It was not just the bonfire of country houses in the Twenties, but the subsequent demolition of places such as Dunsandle House in Co. Galway and Shanbally Castle in Co Tipperary in the Fifties, which would now be considered a crime against our heritage.

But the problem runs deeper than this; it was the elimination of an Irish elite group (with some few exceptions) from active participation in the new Free State which paved the way for the Celtic Tigers. The new Celtic Tiger elite who emerged in the past two decades had no focus for their wealth other than an insatiable appetite for acquiring property on borrowed funds. They share with the Russian mafia an obsession with wealth, illegally amassed, which borders on the criminal and have no real feelings for the Irish people or their suffering.

It is ironic that the old landlord class may have sometimes been cruel and out of touch but they left an amazing architectural heritage which we are fortunate to enjoy. Maurice and Jane O'Keeffe are to be complimented for their contribution to a reassessment of the legacy of the so-called 'Anglo-Irish'.

Bernard O'Grady,

Muswell Hill, London

Sunday Independent