Thursday 24 January 2019

Duleek double and a Drummond delight

Heritage and climate change were the themes of the Meath Association of An Taisce 50th anniversary and Ellison Awards.

The event had a tremendous turnout in the wonderful Francis Johnston's Townley Hall last Tuesday night. Timothy Smyth as MC started the evening introducing the Chair Jean Carr and Mayor of Drogheda Frank Godfrey.

In her address the Jean spoke about the role of An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland in Meath in the last 50 years, beginning with the legendary figures of Canon Cyril Ellison, Elizabeth Hickey, Jim Reynolds, Terry Trench & Eithne Olden. She stressed the fact that as a purely voluntary organisation the association works hard to safeguard the built & natural environment of Meath & that work must continue.

The Mayor Frank Godfrey spoke fondly of his involvement with An Taisce spanning decades and his lifelong interest in the Boyne navigation. He recalled the many events he attended and his own personal days as a member of the local association committee. Frank also relayed the regards and best wishes of the first secretary Jim Reynolds of Butterstream gardens and stressed the need for young people to get involved to sustain the association's successes.

Professor Sweeney, a climatologist, spoke on climate change, highlighting this was the organisation's biggest challenge for the future and if we take action now as a 'society to decarbonise, we can we leave a legacy of a sustainable world for the next generation'. John also mentioned Kilcarn's multiple-arch stone bridge which dates back to medieval times and continues to exist today because of An Taisce.

Geoffrey Clarke the Environmental Representative on the Transport Strategic Policy Committee and the Boyne Navigation Group of IWAI, aptly spoke about the restoration of the Boyne Canal and their involvement with the National Trust, recalling the association's first inaugural meeting on 23rd September 1968. And the committee's great achievement of acquiring ownership of the Boyne Navigation in 1969.

Conservation architect Philip Geoghegan announced the winners of the Ellison's Awards 2018. First place went to Fiona and Dermot Kealy for restoration of the miller's cottage at Killeen mill which was part of the Killeen Estate of the Plunket's. Philip commented that its future has been secured with a careful conservation of the 17th century Mill-house, inside and outside, and exterior repair, renewing the lime mortar, a 'face-lift' for the mill, an essential element in keeping the weather out.'

Joint second place went to Eánán Doherty of Drummond Tower, Monasterboice and Christopher Gray for Dangan Obelisk restoration. Drummond tower was built as a folly tower in1858 and in 2003 the O'Dohrty family started restoration work. Philip called 'this project nothing short of astonishing, it invites the visitor into its magic woodland world, and to dream of mediaeval times within its modernised interior and its safe and stout walls.'

Dangan Obelisk is a significant historic landmark which was once part of Dangan Castle, the 18th century seat of the Wellesley family and the gardens had at least 25 obelisks. Dangan obelisk is the last fully intact one due to Christopher Gray with the help of James Howley, Richard Haworth and Richard Daly with grant support from Meath County Council and the Irish Georgian Society.

Overall third place went to Karla and Michael Piner for restoration of Connell's Barn 'making it, what is probably the most important space in Duleek with the butcher's shop and house and barn'. Duleek had a very successful night with 'Awards for Outstanding Urban Projects for 2018' being awarded to Karla and Michael Piner for Connell's Barn, and Derek Clarke and his committee for the Courthouse. The courthouse dates back to 1838 and designed by Francis Johnston.

Councillor Noel French achieved an 'Award for Exemplary Voluntary Work' for his dedication and commitment to restoration of St Kinneth's Church for the benefit of Ballivor. This was accomplished with the support of St. Kinneth's Rejuvenation Committee & Ballivor Tidy Towns and Meath County Council enabling the property to generate a new use for the community.

Special Award for 'Sensitively designed 'Passive House' went to Michael and Anna Mills for their newly built home which Philip stated 'sits well onto the site, taking in landscape and light'. It meets all standards of ultra-low energy in design, construction and minimal energy usage correlating with An Taisce's green policy.

Herberts' Cottage Garden, a creation of Bloom finalist James McConnell at Churchtown, Navan was awarded 'Special Award for Gardens'. While the title cottage garden is attributed to the property, the gardens have acres of passageways leading to multiple garden types with fabulous borders, scented roses, box hedging, wild biodiversity areas, orchards and quiet seating areas and patios not to mention newly installed walled garden.

'Special Award for Conservation of Thatched Cottages' went to Patricia Murray for her delightful sensitive restoration of one of two thatched buildings at Stonehall, Trim. According to Philip 'it is a property for visitors who delight in living their dream under a roof of thatch'.

Jean Carr closed the evening thanking the Mayor who presented the prizes with Philip Geoghegan. She also thanked Margaret Monaghan, Ellison's Co-ordinator, the committee, guest speakers and the members for their continued support in preserving the heritage of Meath and Louth. Hopefully this was an event Francis Johnston would have enjoyed with National Trust members as they strolled down his world renowned cantilever staircase.

Drogheda Independent