Doneraile House gearing up to open to the public next month
Team behind restoration project gibe locals an overview of progress so far
The team behind the project to revitalise the Doneraile Court and its stately gardens last Thursday outlined their plans for the future of the project at a well-attended public meeting in the local Community Hall last Thursday evening.
Of key interest at the meeting were the plans for the future of Doneraile Court, which in 2017 was allocated €1.6 million for a plans of works at the stately building, with the first tranche of €900,000 released last September.
Mary Heffernan, the principal officer with the Office of Public Works (OPW) responsible for overseeing the project, used meeting to outline their vision for the Doneraile Court and Park and to introduce the team that has been charged with the responsibility of bringing that vision to fruition.
"It is absolutely fantastic to see how many people from the local community have turned out this evening. We had no real indication of what the take up would be, so its wonderful to see so many people here," said Ms Heffernan.
"To embark on any project like Doneraile Court one of the most important things that you need is a fantastic team. We have a truly stellar line-up who will speak this evening about the details of what lies ahead on June 29 when this magnificent Doneraile Court opens," she said.
After a short video presentation architectural historian Christopher Moore, the man charged with fitting out the ground floor of Doneraile Court gave a detailed presentation on the restoration of the ground floor and the process of collecting the many items of historical and cultural significance that will adorn it.
He spoke about how the contents of the Doneraile court had been stripped following its sale in 1969 and how, over the past number of months, he had overseen the acquisition of new objects through loans, gifts and purchases.
Renowned Irish gardener Neil Portius, who has been behind the restoration of the gardens at Annes Grove in Castletownroche, gave a fascinating insight into plans he has for the historic gardens at Doneraile.
"What is most remarkable for me is seeing the fantastic condition of the Park that spans over 400-years of horticultural history. Where else would you get to see kind of continuous history," said Mr Portius.
"Over the next few years you will see a gentle increase in the amount of horticulture going on in the park and in the meantime we will also be undertaking research and archaeology into the more sensitive historical elements of the gardens so that the will be refined," he added.
Kieran Owens, who will manage the cultural programme at Doneraile Park on behalf of the OPW spoke about the many events planned for venue over the coming years.
This will include an exciting mix of exhibitions, lectures, talks and musical recitals that will take place over the course of this year and into 2020 at Doneraile Court, details of which will be unveiled over the coming weeks.
Speaking to The Corkman Eamon Horgan, vice-chair of the Doneraile Development Association (DDA) there was a great buzz of excitement around Doneraile.
"Listening to the presentation here tonight I was struck by their professionalism and the passion and we have been very impressed with the manner in which the OPW has approached this project,"he said.
"The commitment to Doneraile Court and the Park has always been there from the local community and it is wonderful to see that backed up by positive action. These really are exciting times for Doneraile,"added Mr Horgan.