New €4.5m funding package will conserve and safeguard Ireland’s built heritage

Assistance for 95 built heritage projects provided under Historic Structures Fund 2023

The Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Malcolm Noonan TD, today announced that 95 heritage projects across the country will benefit from a total of €4.5m under this year’s Historic Structures Fund (HSF).

In addition to supporting owners and custodians of historic and protected structures to safeguard and maintain their properties, this funding will also provide a welcome boost to local construction and heritage trades by facilitating works with a total value of over €8m and generating more employment (an estimated 11,250 days’ labour), including for specialist heritage roles such as thatching and stone work.

The HSF is one of two built heritage funding schemes which work in partnership with owners and the 31 local authorities to protect our built heritage – a key aim of Heritage Ireland 2030, the new national heritage plan launched by the Minister last year. Today’s announcement follows the awarding earlier this month of €4.5m in funding under the Department’s other built heritage grant scheme – the Built Heritage Investment Scheme.

By providing grants of between €15,000 and €200,000, the HSF assists owners of heritage structures – including those on the local authorities’ Record of Protected Structures and those in Architectural Conservation Areas – to meet their obligations to care for their properties. The scheme provides assistance to a wide range of heritage structures, including castles, churches, mills, bridges, shopfronts, and thatch structures, as well as to private houses.

Among the 95 recipients of funding, this year’s HSF includes awards to:

  • Red Stables Building, St. Anne’s Park, Dublin: funding of €200,000 for the re-slating of the Red Stables building roof (or part thereof), as recommended by a consultant conservation architect.
  • St. Macartan’s Cathedral, Dublin Road, Monaghan: funding of €200,000 for urgent external refurbishment and stone conservation work to the spire, pinnacles tower, and south transept of the cathedral, and internal high-level plaster repairs.
  • Former Mansion House, Mercy University Hospital, Cork: funding of €200,000 for the conservation and repair of the external envelope of the building, including stone repair, re-plastering, re-slating, leadwork, and window conservation.
  • Birr Castle Suspension Bridge, Offaly: funding of €200,000 for the conservation and repair of the wrought-iron suspension footbridge within the grounds of Birr Castle demesne to bring it back into use.
  • 20 Exchequer Street: funding of €37,500 for the reinstatement of the shopfront which is part of the George’s Street Arcade complex in Dublin City Centre.

In cooperation with the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, a grant has also been offered under the Irish-language shopfront stream. Nine larger projects awarded funding over two years under HSF 2022 will also be funded this year.

Announcing the awards today, Minister Noonan said:

I am delighted to announce another €4.5m investment in our built heritage. This year’s Historic Structures Fund will assist 95 owners and custodians of historic and protected structures across the country as they carry out hundreds of conservation projects to repair and safeguard our built heritage. I am particularly pleased to announce the increased number of awards made to vernacular structures. Through this investment, this Government continues to celebrate the value and diversity of our built heritage, while also supporting traditional building skills. These actions also continue to help us deliver on our commitments to built heritage under Heritage Ireland 2030, the national heritage plan which I launched last year.’

Commenting on the announcement, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD, said:

‘It is great to see the increased number and range of projects which will be supported by this investment of €4.5m under the Historic Structures Fund. Along with the Built Heritage Investment Scheme, this Government is continuing its commitment to safeguard our rich built heritage, keeping many buildings in use and helping to bring many others back into use. The funded works will also have an economic benefit by generating employment for heritage contractors and other skilled crafts and tradespeople across the country.’

Minister of State for Local Government and Planning, Kieran O’Donnell, TD, also welcomed the announcement, stating:

‘Thanks to the close working relationship between the Department and the Local Authorities, particularly the Architectural Conservation Officers, Heritage Officers and planning and administrative staff, schemes such as the Historic Structures Fund continue to be successful in the repair and renewal of our shared built heritage.’