OPW MARK 25th ANNIVERSARY OF EMO COURT BEQUEATHAL TO NATION WITH INAUGURAL OPENING OF THE FIRST FLOOR

27 May 19

OPW MARK 25th ANNIVERSARY OF EMO COURT BEQUEATHAL TO NATION WITH INAUGURAL OPENING OF THE FIRST FLOOR.

The OPW celebrated the 25th Anniversay of Emo Court being bequeathed to the Nation with a special event today attended by Charlie Flanagan T.D., Minister for Justice and Equality. Emo Court, a James Gandon designed property, is one of Ireland’s most important country houses and has been in State ownership since 1995 when it was bequeathed to the nation by Major Cholmeley Harrison.

The 25th anniversary was marked with the inaugural opening of the first floor of the house to visitors and with the opening of an exhibition of contemporary still life curated by Oliver Sears Gallery. It follows extensive restoration work to the house fabric and the historic gardens funded by a €1.2million grant from the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund of the Department of Rural and Community Development.

A tree planting ceremony by Minister Flanagan on the fully restored Wellingtonia Avenue, a mile-long driveway lined with of sequoia trees, marked the beginning of the day’s celebrations.

Minister Flanagan then officially opened the first floor of the house and the Oliver Sears exhibition saying “Today is an exceptionally important day for Laois and for the surrounding midland counties. Historical and cultural sites have an important function in presenting Irish heritage to overseas tourists and historic houses are a vital attraction for both local and foreign visitors, playing an important role in stimulating economic development, particularly at community level.

The grant of €1.2million from the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund is not just about the preservation of the property itself but is an investment that will generate returns in the form of social benefits and economic growth. Emo Court is a great example of how the Fund is making a significant and sustainable positive impact on rural communities and how committed the Government is to support rural Ireland.

An exhibition of James Gandon drawings, curated by the Irish Architectural Archive (IAA) was also opened today by Chairman of the OPW, Maurice Buckley, who officially opened the Emo Court 2019 visitor season.  Emo Court will host an outstanding selection of artists and artworks, both national and international, over the summer.

Mr. Buckley said “Ireland’s historic houses are a vital part of our social fabric and the importance of Emo Court to Irish and European cultural heritage cannot be overstated. This is a magnificent property and following the extensive work is a major historic attraction, which tells a unique story of Ireland.

Today as we officially open the doors to the first floor for the first time in 25 years, we are celebrating the great artistic achievements of James Gandon who designed it, the generosity of the man who bequeathed it to the State, Major Cholmeley Harrison, and the talented conservationists and craftsmen and women who restored it to this condition. We also celebrate the local community who have long known Emo Court as the jewel in the crown in the midlands and have shown great support to the OPW through this restoration process. I hope this newly refurbished floor and exhibition space will give them great pleasure and pride.”

Commissioner of the OPW Heritage and Building services Mr. John McMahon said “I am enormously proud of the staff of the OPW who have worked to the highest standards on Emo Court, bringing the property to the condition it is today and allowing it to be enjoyed the local community, national and international visitors. The grounds are among the most spectacular designed landscapes in the country and the beautiful lake and woodland trails are already very popular with local people-over 300,000 people use the estate each year.

Our priority is now to increase the number of visitors who visit the house and gardens and we have an extensive cultural programme of events to be held at Emo Court across Summer 2019 to support this initiative”.

The Oliver Sears Exhibition and exhibition of architectural drawings curated by the Irish Architectural Archive (IAA) will run from May 26th until October 18th, 2019.

 

-ENDS-

 

Notes to Editors

Emo Court is a Gandon-designed country house set in approximately 250 acres of park and agricultural land and has been in State ownership since 1995, when then Irish President Mary Robinson accepted the property on behalf of the State from Major Cholmeley Harrison.

Since the handover to the State several conservation and development works have been completed. The Estate comprises formal gardens, walking trails, a 20-acre manmade lake, mixed woodlands, meadows, and the Chomeley Harrison Arboretum. The Dower House has been conserved and a Tearoom installed within with a gift shop available year-round for visitors.

The grounds are among the most spectacular designed landscapes in the midlands and the beautiful lake and woodland trails are already very popular with local people. Over 300,000 people use the estate each year. However, fewer than 20,000 people visit the house and the aim of this initiative is to increase this number substantially.

General Information

Emo Court will be open to the public from Monday, 27th May 2019.

House

27th May – 2nd October 2019

10.00 to 18.00 (Last admission one hour before closing).

Gardens open all year

January, February & November, December 8:30am - 4:30pm

March & October 8:30am - 5pm

April & September 8:30am - 7pm

May, June, July & August 8:30am - 8:30pm

Entry to the gardens is FREE