Office of Public Works should take over Fota

IN her excellent article on Fota (Weekend Examiner, January 21), Mary Leland suggests that the Office of Public Works (OPW) should take over Fota House.

She is right, but some civil servants who know little or nothing of Fota and have never discussed its future with those of us who have worked for it on a voluntary basis for many years (in my own case, 30) are now deciding otherwise, it seems.

It is well to remember that prior to UCC purchasing Fota in 1975, the general public had no right of access - I got turned away myself.

Following the purchase, UCC opened the gardens and the public have enjoyed access to this renowned facility free of charge for 364 days per year ever since.

Now that free entry may be coming to an end.

Civil servants, without even the courtesy of meeting with Fota Trust, have decided, it seems, that Fota House and Gardens should be transferred to the new Irish National Trust, which is being set up under the chairmanship of Sir David Davies.

He has said the new Irish trust would be based on the English model where the normal practice is to charge for visiting gardens.

So for those many, many thousands of you who enjoy visiting Fota, I would suggest that you get in touch with your local public representatives, particularly Government TD’s, to stop the takeover of Fota House and Gardens by a body with no knowledge of Fota, no track record that we know of, and no evidence of how they will raise the necessary funds.

The Irish National Trust is being set up, we are told, to save endangered great houses.

Fota House has just been refurbished. It is not endangered; it’s just not viable yet, but it will be, given time for the business to grow.

There are very many houses endangered, eg, Doneraile, Strokestown, Westport, etc.

It seems to me they should concentrate on endangered houses and let the OPW take Fota House into its care as well as continuing its good work in Fota gardens.

Tom Raftery

Bishopscourt Road



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