FOTA HOUSE in Cork is set to become the first historic Irish building to come under the stewardship of the Irish Heritage Trust — an organisation established in 2006 to preserve properties of historic and cultural significance.
The complex is currently operated by the Fota Trust Company with the gardens managed by the Office of Public Works (OPW).
It is intended that the Irish Heritage Trust will take ownership of the house in the next few weeks when the legal arrangements are finalised.
The OPW will continue to manage the gardens for a further five years when the heritage trust will then assume responsibility for them.
The trust was established in 2006 with a mandate to acquire and present to the public major important heritage properties where the State does not wish to acquire them directly and where there is imminent risk to their heritage value.
Fota House, the centre piece of the great estate of the Earls of Barrymore, survives today with its architectural heritage and detail fully intact. It was created by Sir Richard Morrison and his son William Vitruvious, two of the most influential and celebrated architects of their era. The house is set in its original island park with its famous arboretum and renowned gardens that were developed in the second half of the 19th century.
For the past 14 years, the house was managed by the Fota Trust, which was established by University College Cork, represented by Professor Tom Raftery, Cork City Council and Cork County Council.
Minister of State Batt O’Keeffe said yesterday he was delighted the trust had acquired its first property, which was of national importance in heritage terms.
The Green Party’s Dan Boyle said the purchase was a recognition of an important amenity for the people of Cork, in particular.
“I applaud the State’s willingness to intervene in this way to protect the future of Fota House and Gardens. It will generate considerable visitor interest and add significantly to the tourism potential of the area.”