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Minister McHugh launches Great Houses of the North West Radio Series

Minister of State at the Department of Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Joe McHugh, T.D. today (August 27th) officially launched a radio series on the Great Houses of the North West on Ocean FM.

This radio series examines the historical role and future prospects of a number of Great Houses in Mayo, Sligo, Donegal, Roscommon, Leitrim and Fermanagh.

The passage of time and new historical research has changed our understanding of the role of the Great House. It is now recognised that, far from being isolated from the lives of the majority, the Great House played an important role in rural Ireland until well into the twentieth century. It was in fact a world where many strands of Irish life came together – Anglo, Irish, Protestant, Catholic, nationalist, loyalist, artist, writer, Gaelgoir, worker, tenant, solider, politician and clergyman.

The Great House epitomises a rich architectural tradition, European in origin but distinctly Irish. All the houses in this radio series are expertly described by specialists in their relative fields. These specialists include a representative from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage section of the Department of Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

Over the years, the Department of Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht and its predecessors has provided important funding for a number of historic houses discussed in this series such as Westport, Temple House, Brownhall and Hazelwood. In recognition of their importance to the national heritage, many of these houses also benefit from important tax relief in respect of expenditure on repair and maintenance under Section 482 of the Taxes Consolidation Act. A condition of receiving this relief is that houses must allow a certain amount of public access, including during this week: National Heritage Week.

The Heritage Council – which is funded by the Department of Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht – is supporting this radio series.

Minister McHugh said: “Radio programmes such as this are invaluable in heightening public awareness of the importance of our heritage. It is clear that increased appreciation of historic places can only be secured through public discussion, research and academic publication.”

The Minister added: “I am delighted that the Department of Arts Heritage is supporting this series through the Heritage Council”.