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31/07/2021

Major heritage funding boost for one Donegal town will see 13 buildings benefitting from conservation works

Third success for Donegal County Council under the Historic Towns Initiative

Major heritage funding boost for one Donegal town will see 13 buildings benefitting from conservation works

The early nineteenth-century Condon House on The Mall in Ballyshannon will undergo conservation works under the Heritage Council’s Historic Towns Initiative.

A €200,000 heritage-led regeneration initiative has got the green light for one town in Donegal.

The Heritage Office and Conservation Office of Donegal County Council in partnership with the Ballyshannon Regeneration Group, Dedalus Architecture and local property owners have been awarded €200,000 under The Heritage Council’s Historic Towns Initiative.  

This is the third success for Donegal County Council under the Historic Towns Initiative following its award of €200,000 for Church Lane, Letterkenny in 2019 and of €290,000 for Ramelton in 2020 under the scheme.  

The award will be augmented with €85,000 in funding from Donegal County Council as well as private investment by property owners.

“Ballyshannon has a rich built heritage and impressive historic streetscapes that give character to the town,” said Joseph Gallagher, County Donegal Heritage Officer.  “Recognising and retaining the character, quality and fabric of Ballyshannon’s built heritage is an important basis upon which to base its regeneration.  The Historic Towns Initiative is local authority and local community-led and has heritage considerations at its heart.  “Experience has shown that places that have a strong civic pride in their historic buildings, employ best conservation practice, and make wise land-use decisions are those that make the most attractive places to live, work and visit.  

“For decades, historic buildings and streetscapes in our towns and villages have been overlooked.  Initiatives such as the Historic Towns Initiative underline the importance of our built heritage and emphasise the opportunities that historic buildings present to accommodate new uses and to bring life back to our historic towns and villages.  

He continued: “Many of County Donegal’s towns and villages are experiencing the same challenges as those around the country with the loss of services, vacancy and dereliction.  The Historic Towns Initiative provides an opportunity to conserve and bring some of our historic buildings back into use.  The funding provided by The Heritage Council and the Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage will make a significant contribution to protecting, enhancing and promoting the built heritage of Ballyshannon.”


Investment

“Thirteen historic buildings along The Mall and the Manor House on Upper Main Street in Ballyshannon will benefit from a total investment of over €450,000,” said Collette Beattie, Conservation Officer, Donegal County Council.  

“The conservation works planned under the Historic Towns Initiative include roof and chimney repairs, installation of cast-iron rainwater goods, reinstatement of timber sash windows and doors, the repair of historic shopfronts, the reinstatement of traditional hand-painted signage and a painting scheme for the buildings.  

“The works will use historic materials, traditional skills and will be informed by best conservation practice.  

“In our application, we worked closely with Cllr. Barry Sweeny, Terry McIntyre and the Ballyshannon Regeneration Group and grade one conservation architect Duncan McLaren of Dedalus Architecture who will provide conservation supervision for the project.  

“The initiative also has strong support from local residents, businesses and community groups.  The works will be completed by November and we look forward to working with all these stakeholders to ensure that the initiative is a success.  The Historic Towns Initiative will also help inform Donegal County Council’s ‘FUTURE Ballyshannon’ project currently underway which is a visioning project that aims to deliver a Regeneration Strategy and Action Plan for Ballyshannon Town Centre.”


The Ballyshannon Historic Towns Initiative builds on the Ballyshannon Conservation Plan commissioned last year as part of the implementation of the County Donegal Heritage Plan and the Ballyshannon Design Guide launched in 2019.  

Nine of the buildings that are the subject of the Ballyshannon Historic Towns Initiative are included on the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage and six of them are Protected Structures.  


A Protected Structure is a structure that is protected under the Planning & Development Act and is considered to be of special architectural, historical, archaeological, artistic, cultural, scientific, social or technical interest. 

 The planned works are also taking place within a zone of archaeological potential which is protected under the National Monuments Acts in the historic town of Ballyshannon.  

Nine other towns countrywide benefitted under this year’s Historic Towns Initiative this year: Ballina, County Mayo (€95,000); Birr, County Offaly (€200,000); Callan, County Kilkenny (€57,000); Navan, County Meath (€163,000); Enniscorthy, County Wexford (€174,000); Listowel, County Kerry (€200,000); Roscommon, County Roscommon (€136,000); Sligo, County Sligo (€200,000) and Tramore, County Waterford (€75,000).

Malcolm Noonan, Minister of State for Heritage & Electoral Reform said: “We wish to put built, cultural and natural heritage at the front of both Government policy and the recovery of the country and so I look forward to working with The Heritage Council on similar initiatives over the coming months and years. Heritage Ireland 2030, the new national heritage plan, which will be published later this spring, will further ensure that our heritage is at the heart of policy across Government.”

Every local authority can submit one application to the Historic Towns Initiative each year for a historic town with an indicative population of more than 1,500 inhabitants.  The proposed works must be based on a conservation plan-led approach and demonstrate strong community engagement.  If you think that your town meets or is working towards meeting the criteria for the Historic Towns Initiative, please contact the County Donegal Heritage Office on (074) 917 2576 or by e-mail at heritage@donegalcoco.ie

 

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