Minister for the Environment and Local Government, John Gormley, has called on South Tipperary County Council to add buildings of regional, national and international importance to the list of protected structures in the county.
Speaking at the launch of his department's architectural inventory of South Tipperary in Clonmel last Friday evening, Minister Gormley also encouraged the County Council to appoint a Heritage Officer.
Our architectural heritage is something we should be proud of, Minister Gormley told the crowd gathered for the launch of the inventory and the accompanying book which features some of the highlights of the report - 'An Introduction to the Architectural Inventory of South Tipperary.'
The county has architecturally important building ranging from thatched cottages to cathedrals, the Minister pointed out, adding that many people use historic buildings every day but don't realise it. Most towns and villages have an historic area, maybe not a specific building but in their streetscape, he explained, and people should be aware of this, which is why his department are undertaking these inventories and books.
The Minister said he hoped that seeing the buildings included in the book would awaken a pride for local architecture in people.
Mentioning some of the highlights of the inventory and book, Minister Gormley pointed to the Church of Ireland cathedral in Cashel and St. Michael's church in Tipperary Town, which is architecturally distinct and has a special atmosphere.
Major country houses can be seen in the book, including Dundrum House, Cashel Palace, Marlfield House and Knocklofty House. Many of these have been converted to hotels but should still be cherished as part of our cultural heritage, according to Minister Gormley.
More humble houses are featured even more strongly in the inventory, he went on. There are about 100 thatched buildings in the county, he said, as well as numerous shop and public house fronts, especially in Tipperary Town.
Minister Gormley also mentioned the work of architect William Tinsley in Cahir and Clonmel, and the investment in the area by the Quakers which led to architectural set pieces.
"it is not just up to the state to protect these, there are a vast number of building in private ownership," the Minster told those gathered for the launch. Grants are available for the upkeep of these.
The appointment of a Heritage Officer would help with the management of these buildings and give pre-planning advice to building owners, the Minister said.
Being on the register of protected structures can be a concern for some homeowners, the Minister accepted, but he was quick to reassure them that preservation was about the 'management of change' and not making it difficult for them to care for the buildings.
Coming to the end of his address, Minister Gormley spoke to the representatives of South Tipperary County Council in attendance when he encouraged them to add the buildings in the inventory to the list of protected structures, which comes under the Planning and Development Act. Minister Gormley said he would be sending each councillor a copy of the book and looking for their support in this.
Also at the launch were Chairman of South Tipperary County Council, John Fahey, and Mayor of Clonmel, Richie Molloy.
Cllr Fahey said he had no doubt the publications would prove invaluable for both practitioners and academics alike in understanding the architectural heritage of the county. "We are very lucky in South Tipperary to have such a rich architectural heritage and indeed to have someone the calibre of Barry O'Reilly for the management of the survey here in South Tipperary."
Mayor Molloy observed that South Tipperary and Clonmel are both very rich in architectural heritage and that this is something that is not played up enough in attracting tourists.