175th Anniversary of the Office of Public Works || Future Challenges for the Opw

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<ul><li><p>Irish Arts Review</p><p>Future Challenges for the OpwAuthor(s): Peter PearsonSource: Irish Arts Review (2002-), Vol. 23, 175th Anniversary of the Office of Public Works(2006), pp. 46-48Published by: Irish Arts ReviewStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25503519 .Accessed: 17/06/2014 21:07</p><p>Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms &amp; Conditions of Use, available at .http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p><p> .JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.</p><p> .</p><p>Irish Arts Review is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Irish Arts Review(2002-).</p><p>http://www.jstor.org </p><p>This content downloaded from on Tue, 17 Jun 2014 21:07:51 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=iarhttp://www.jstor.org/stable/25503519?origin=JSTOR-pdfhttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsphttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>FUTURE CHALLENGES FOR THE OPW </p><p>Future Challenges </p><p>for </p><p>PETER PEARSON suggests some new routes for heritage </p><p>development and for the imaginative use of latent resource materials </p><p>Ireland has inherited an architectural heritage of </p><p>great diversity, ranging in scale from the humble </p><p>cottage to substantial cathedrals to large historic </p><p>complexes like Dublin Castle. The citizen has the </p><p>right to expect the State to maintain and make accessi </p><p>ble a wide variety of these buildings, the state, here </p><p>represented by the OPW, has for the most part, an </p><p>honourable record in this respect. </p><p>Despite some confusion caused by the various </p><p>reincarnations and divisions of responsibility; Duchas </p><p>and the Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and </p><p>the Islands, and now OPW again with the Department </p><p>of the Environment; the state has minded and contin </p><p>ues to care for a vast cross-section of monuments, his </p><p>toric buildings and other structures. In the capital </p><p>alone, Dublin Castle, the Four Courts, the Custom </p><p>House, the GPO, Collin's Barracks (Fig 5), the Royal </p><p>Hospital (IMMA), Leinster House, Iveagh House, the </p><p>Botanic Gardens, the Phoenix Park and its buildings, </p><p>would be obvious examples of the state's care for some </p><p>of the finest set pieces of our architectural patrimony. </p><p>Clearly, the care of a nation's built heritage cannot be </p><p>left to a single public body, the responsibility is too vast </p><p>and there is the added complication that many struc </p><p>tures are used or lived in, and are not merely monu </p><p>ments. This means that private owners, be they insti </p><p>tutions such as churches, clubs, societies, local author </p><p>ities and the state share in the enjoyment and the </p><p>responsibility of looking after such places. The state </p><p>has the advantage of having resources, which might not </p><p>be available to individuals, and it has public service and </p><p>the common good as its only motive for owning such </p><p>properties. It can also guarantee, through its owner </p><p>ship, an indefinite and long-term security of tenure. </p><p>Though such important houses as Ballyfin, </p><p>Castletown Cox and Lissadell have been sold in recent </p><p>years and bought by private owners who have the best </p><p>intentions for these estates, some thought that the </p><p>OPW should for instance, have acquired Lissadell and </p><p>some of its fascinating contents, if only to have a state </p><p>owned landmark in an area of the country which does </p><p>not already have one. Though its primary aim is to pro </p><p>tect and physically preserve our heritage, the OPW also </p><p>plays a very important part in tourism, where the vital </p><p>role of places like Muckross to Killarney, Glenveagh to </p><p>Donegal, are obvious. Though Clonmacnoise is well </p><p>known (Fig 2), the restoration of Portumna Castle (Fig </p><p>4) provides an important attraction to visitors on the </p><p>river Shannon and a further reason to linger there. </p><p>While the Department of the Environment has </p><p>through the local authorities allowed our once unspoilt </p><p>landscape to become ever more suburbanised, we must </p><p>at least provide something real, for both ourselves and </p><p>tourists to look at. Minister Dick Roche, for the same </p><p>department, made a surprise and welcome announce </p><p>ment last March, when he allocated over 18 million </p><p>m </p><p>"m?.-i </p><p>,.,*- t/*~s</p></li><li><p>PW </p><p>to twenty-two different and important historic land </p><p>marks in the state. This represents the largest one-off </p><p>allocation of funds to heritage conservation ever made </p><p>by government. Though most of the properties are in </p><p>state ownership, others are not, such as Waterford </p><p>Cathedral and the great 18th-century mansions of </p><p>Headfort House and Westport House which require </p><p>large sums for re-roofing and other essential works. </p><p>There is simply no other adequate source of funding. </p><p>The Heritage Council, the local authorities and </p><p>the Department of the Environment administer gener </p><p>ous, but smaller grants schemes whose resources would </p><p>barely pay for the scaffolding in the case of such huge </p><p>buildings. The Minister's substantial grant aid to such </p><p>places as Headfort, Westport and Russborough along </p><p>with the cathedrals of Ennis and Christchurch in </p><p>Dublin and to Duckett's Grove in Co Carlow, are espe </p><p>cially important. As the Minister noted, it is not just </p><p>money well spent, it is invested in the future. We have </p><p>come a long way from the 1990s when small sums were </p><p>eked out for essential repairs. </p><p>Over the years, the state has received gifts of valu </p><p>able properties, including Muckross House and Park, </p><p>Glenveagh Castle and Estate and the Johnstown Castle </p><p>and Estate in Co Wexford (Fig 1). Castletown House </p><p>and Doneraile Court came to the state from the Irish </p><p>Georgian Society, while Emo Court in Co Laois and </p><p>Mount Congreve in Waterford are also held in trust for </p><p>^m the nation. Altamount Gardens were also gift </p><p>^m ed to the state and Russborough, though its </p><p>^m priceless art collection is now in the National </p><p>^m Gallery, is administered by a trust. It remains to </p><p>^m be seen how the new Irish Heritage Trust, also </p><p>m funded by the government, will fit into the overall </p><p>W scene and to see how its safety net will operate to * </p><p>save vulnerable historic properties from being bro </p><p>ken up or from falling prey to commercial demands. </p><p>Fortunately the era of flashy interpretive centres, </p><p>where often the architectural statement almost out </p><p>weighs the significance of the site itself, appears to be </p><p>over. In the late 20th century the state adopted these </p><p>heritage tourism projects in an extraordinary way. </p><p>Extraordinary because other European countries have </p><p>never seen the need for them. There is no interpretive </p><p>centre in Venice or even at Pompeii, nor is there any </p><p>clamour to have one. People seem to enjoy contact with </p><p>real and authentic objects and buildings from by-gone </p><p>ages. Why, for instance, would a collection of paintings </p><p>by Yeats in a Georgian house in Merrion Square not </p><p>make a valuable addition to cultural tourism in Dublin? </p><p>The idea that historic buildings are unsuitable for cer </p><p>tain museum use is one that needs to be challenged. </p><p>Paris makes a virtue of such projects, combining spe </p><p>cial collections with historic houses. </p><p>Why have we no museum of Dublin? The full </p><p>story of our capital city needs to be presented to the </p><p>public, but unlike most other European city adminis </p><p>trations, Dublin City Council do not see it as their </p><p>responsibility to provide a comprehensive 'Museum of </p><p>Dublin'. Perhaps this is a project for the OPW in col </p><p>laboration with the council, given that the OPW own </p><p>a number of appropriate sites, such as Kevin Street </p><p>Garda Station, which was the Archbishop's Palace, next </p><p>to Marsh's Library and St Patrick's Cathedral. </p><p>Alternatively a more novel 'city museum' might </p><p>be developed incorporating eight or ten venues includ </p><p>ing Dublin Castle, City Hall vaults, a business and </p><p>traders' display in the Rates Office (former Newcomen </p><p>?i m </p><p>17S? OPW </p><p>The Office of PubUc Works OtftgnanO?machaPotbt? </p><p>1 Johnstown Castle, Co Wexford </p><p>2 Clonmacnoise, Co </p><p>Offaly </p><p>3 Tyrone House, Co Gal way </p><p>This content downloaded from on Tue, 17 Jun 2014 21:07:51 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>4 Portumna Castle, Co Gal way </p><p>5 Collin's Barracks, Dublin </p><p>I FUTURE CHALLENGES FOR THE OPW </p><p>Bank), Reads the Cutlers (Dublin's oldest shop), </p><p>Shipping and Post history in the Custom House, an </p><p>industrial site, tenement house, paintings, prints and </p><p>ephemera in the presently closed Civic Museum in South </p><p>William Street, a theatre museum with the re-construct </p><p>ed Abbey Theatre facade (currently lying in a garden in </p><p>Dalkey), or a 1916 and Irish nationalism collection in the </p><p>GPO or Boland's Mills. A great deal of fascinating mate </p><p>rial lies languishing in private and public collections and </p><p>all that is needed is the drive to make it happen. </p><p>In the reclaim of heritage the OPW should be able </p><p>to remain outside merely commercial criteria. Many of </p><p>its tasks cannot be immediately measured in account </p><p>ing terms. Caring for ruins and great houses like </p><p>Castletown doesn't generate money for the OPW, but </p><p>is vitally important for the tourist industry in Ireland </p><p>generally. It is very good to hear that the OPW have </p><p>purchased the old farmyard adjacent to Castletown </p><p>House, Ireland's most important 18th-century man </p><p>sion. But what of other important properties around </p><p>the country? Doneraile Court was substantially </p><p>restored by the Irish Georgian Society and was gifted </p><p>to the state some years ago; but the house remains </p><p>closed to the public with the garden and house in </p><p>5r </p><p>ruins. The house needs a focus, perhaps telling the story </p><p>of the rise and fall of the Anglo-Irish. Further recogni </p><p>tion of Ireland's multifaceted history and diversity will </p><p>be revealed when the OPW's imaginative Battle of the </p><p>Boyne site at Old Bridge House is finally opened. With </p><p>exhibitions and construction work still at the planning </p><p>stage, work is expected to commence shortly, and will </p><p>include refurbishment of Old Bridge House. </p><p>There have been plans to re-roof Moore Hall in Co </p><p>Mayo for some time and though the ruin is in the hands </p><p>of Coillte, the Minister's grant of .25,000 may help to </p><p>launch this project. Many of Ireland's great ruined hous </p><p>es and castles should perhaps be left as ruins, but they </p><p>should be afforded the same protection as other monu </p><p>ments - Woodstock House in Co Kilkenny is the focal </p><p>point of the refurbished gardens there and should be </p><p>stabilised as a ruin. Others like Tyrone House, Galway </p><p>(Fig 3) stand dramatically in the landscape, stark monu </p><p>ments to 18th-century Ireland. In Co Wexford, </p><p>Johnstown Castle with its beautifully kept desmesne </p><p>Lifliii^HHHHHHHHHHHHHI was gifted to the state in 1945. Now that Teagasc has </p><p>acquired modern offices, the castle is vacant. There are </p><p>hopes that the castle and its agricultural and vernacular </p><p>furniture museum will be transferred to the OPW. </p><p>Apart from the very fine Kilkenny Castle, this part of </p><p>the Southeast has no important historic building avail </p><p>able for prestigious events, nor is there any great house </p><p>of this type open to the public. Aside from the loss of </p><p>Caring for ruins and great houses doesn't generate money for the OPW, but it is vitally important for the tourist industry </p><p>the grand staircase, its interiors are substantially intact </p><p>and much original furniture remains. The refurbished </p><p>Gothic Revival castle would make an outstanding con </p><p>tribution to the cultural life of the Wexford area. </p><p>Until quite recently many of Ireland's harbours were </p><p>under OPW control, the body which originally built so </p><p>many fine stone piers and jetties at places like Dun </p><p>Laoghaire or Howth. The transfer of these facilities, </p><p>which could be classified as monuments, to companies </p><p>or boards with an overriding commercial brief has </p><p>resulted in a loss to heritage. Were the OPW to be sub </p><p>jected to commercial consideration only, there would </p><p>always be a threat of developments such as apartments, </p><p>hotels and facilities which the commercial sector is well </p><p>able to provide. The OPW is a keystone of Irish culture </p><p>and its policy of charging the citizen little or nothing </p><p>to visit the state's museums and properties, underlies </p><p>its commitment to making heritage accessible to all. </p><p>Peter Pearson is an architectural historian with a special interest </p><p>in conservation. </p><p>4 8 I </p><p>OPW 175TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION </p><p>This content downloaded from on Tue, 17 Jun 2014 21:07:51 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p><p>Article Contentsp. [46]p. 47p. 48</p><p>Issue Table of ContentsIrish Arts Review (2002-), Vol. 23, 175th Anniversary of the Office of Public Works (2006), pp. 1-48Front MatterForeword [p. 1-1]OPW 175th Anniversary Edition [p. 2-2]The OPW a History of Service [pp. 3-5]Art of the State: Inheritance, Development, Legacy [pp. 6-11]Building for the Nation: Architectural Services at the OPW [pp. 12-17]Weaving Heaven and Earth [pp. 18-21]Preserving the Past [pp. 22-25]A Glittering Legacy [pp. 26-29]Conservation at OPW: Policy, Protection, Partnership [pp. 30-33]Cultural Collaborations [pp. 34-39]Engineering Success [pp. 40-41]Kilmainham Gaol: Confronting Change [pp. 42-45]Future Challenges for the Opw [pp. 46-48]Back Matter</p></li></ul>


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