In July 2022, the IGS wrote to the Taoiseach, Government Ministers and the Office of Public Works recommending that every effort be made to ensure that of 235 acres of land immediately to the rear and north of Castletown House be acquired by the state to ensure the protection of an integral part of its historic designed landscape. Following is a copy of this letter:
The Irish Georgian Society is writing with regards the recently announced sale of 235 acres of land immediately to the rear and north of Castletown House and which constitute an integral part of its historic designed landscape.
The Society appreciates that there are long standing efforts to bring these lands into State ownership through the Office of Public Works and so urges that this current opportunity is used to achieve this and to safeguard the setting of Castletown into the future. The urgent need for public intervention is illustrated in the sales agent’s suggestion that the site has future development potential despite its current zoning for open space and amenity, an objective the Irish Georgian Society views should never be changed.
In purchasing Castletown in 1967, Desmond Guinness acquired 120 acres to the front of the house ‘so as to preserve them’ and in doing so provided a protective envelope that secured its setting and protected views extending to the south. While some housing was subsequently built, the greater part of the historic demesne remains intact. This is a testament to the success of Desmond’s vision and the subsequent custodianship and management of Castletown by the Castletown Foundation and by the Office of Public Works.
Extending the State’s ownership of land within the Castletown demesne would not just protect the setting of the house but would also greatly enhance the amenity value of its parklands. It is noted that Castletown House & Parklands were the fifth most popular visitor destination in Ireland in 2019 attracting 965,632 visitors (Visitor Numbers to Attractions Dashboard, Failte Ireland). This additional landholding would present opportunities for visitors to further explore and utilise the parklands to the rear of the house and would facilitate and secure the current access route from the M4 motorway.
As one of the most important historic buildings in Ireland, it is incumbent on all with an interest in and responsibility for our heritage to ensure that Castletown House is protected for the present and for future generations. Ever since the demesne was broken up in the 1960s there have been aspirations to reunite the house with its historic landscape. It seems that now, after over fifty years, a golden opportunity has arisen for the State to achieve this.
Executive Director IGS