Wednesday 22 November 2017

Encouragement from Perry central to family's decision

Constance Cassidy and Minister John Perry listen to Eddie Walsh speaking to the media at Lissadell House.
Constance Cassidy and Minister John Perry listen to Eddie Walsh speaking to the media at Lissadell House.

"FOR us the last five years in Lissadell have been traumatic, they've been difficult and they've been challenging," said Edward Walsh at Sunday's press conference.

"But Lissadell is such a wonderful place, it's a place of true beauty and it's a place where each of us have grown to love and to have missed very considerably over the years."

Edward Walsh said that the encouragement he received from his family and Minister John Perry were central in the decision to open Lissadell again.

He said: "Minister John Perry had always been in the background, providing words of support and encouragement.

"He indicated that we should keep faith and we should continue to believe that justice would ultimately out.

"He made contact after the Supreme Court and said that Lissadell was too important to fall by the wayside.

"He also made the point that Lissadell was enormous importance to Sligo, the Northwest and Ireland."

Edward added: "He assured us of his support in the event that we had a view or wanted to do anything further with it.

"Those words were of enormous encouragement.

"When the Taoiseach visited Sligo in recent weeks, he spoke and emphasised that he saw Lissadell as being part and parcel of tourism in Ireland.

"All of that was taken on board by us."

He praised the encouragement of his wife, Constance and their seven children in persuading him to return to Sligo.

"In terms of being here, when we began in 2003, we had a vision about what Lissadell should be and we set about trying to restore and respect the culture, the tradition and the integrity of Lissadell."

He said that extensive work was carried out on the gardens, coach house, re-roofing, opening galleries and exhibitions.

"One project led to another", he added.

"Each project had the belief that Lissadell had the potential to be the jewel in the crown of tourism in the Northwest.

"Not only in the Northwest – in Connacht and indeed Ireland."

He said that when Lissadell was operating, it was becoming a destination of choice for so many, both nationally and internationally.

The culmination of this led to the Leonard Cohen and Westlife concerts.

"Having Westlife here in their hometown was a wonderful achievement, having Leonard Cohen play here over two magical nights, was something, very, very special.

"There were offers from many other artists who sought to play at Lissadell.

"All of that sadly came to nothing when the High Court was lost and at that point, it appeared our vision was over.

"It was a truly devastating time."

He added: "Fortunately, we made the decision and it was a difficult decision, but we believed that the decision of the High Court was fundamentally wrong and flawed in so many respects both in fact and law.

"We decided that it was worthwhile to pursue an appeal to the Supreme Court, not only was it worthwhile, but we felt Lissadell deserved that we try everything with a view to trying to save Lissadell."

He continued: "All of that has been a difficult time, but now all of that, we hope is in the past.

"We look forward to trying to move forward in a positive note.

"It hasn't been easy, and as my daughter Elanor said in the aftermath of the Supreme Court, we need to take time out and that we did."

He pointed out a number of factors for re-opening the iconic house.

"Each of our children repeatedly encouraged us to renew our vision.

"They themselves have grown up in Lissadell, they lost the last number of years but they love Lissadell and wanted to be involved and encouraged us to move forward.

"We received an enormous number of messages of goodwill and encouragement from many people in Sligo, in Maugherow, all over Ireland and abroad.

"All of that impacted."

He also praised his legal team, Gerard McGovern and Joe Barnes.

"We met with John Perry, told him that we were keen to open Lissadell and to know that there was support there.

"At the end of the day, the five years were a bleak enough time."

Isobel Cassidy, manager of Lissadell said after the press conference: "Like the Terminator, we are back."

Sligo Champion

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