As 2020 draws to what for many people will be a most welcome close, the Irish Aesthete is delighted to announce some good news: an initiative designed to acknowledge the importance of our privately-owned heritage properties. Devised by this writer, the O’Flynn Group Heritage Prize is the first of its kind: a new national award recognising the really significant role played by owners of historic homes. For this reason, the prize is being presented in association with Historic Houses of Ireland, a charity established in 2008 to promote the immediate and long-term future of the country’s privately owned historic properties. All HHI members are owners of such buildings and they understand better than anyone the sector’s particular problems, especially over the past year.
Worth €5,000 and adjudicated by a small group of assessors, the O’Flynn Group Heritage Prize is intended to be presented annually to one property, the owners of which have demonstrated outstanding dedication and commitment to the preservation of the building in their care. Sponsor the O’Flynn Group has already shown itself keenly aware of the importance of providing a viable future for historic buildings, as can be seen in the company’s own redevelopment of the early 19th century former barracks site in Ballincollig, County Cork. The Irish Aesthete would like to thank the O’Flynn Group for the company’s most generous support of this project.
A 300-year old country house in County Kilkenny has been chosen as the inaugural winner of the new prize. After buying Ballysallagh in 1987, local pharmacist Kieran White and his wife Geralyn moved into the dilapidated building with their three children (then aged between two and five) and embarked on a gradual programme of rescue and refurbishment undertaken over several decades as their financial circumstances allowed. Today Ballysallagh stands as a model of first-rate restoration, internally furnished with flair and taste. Around the house the Whites have laid out herbaceous borders, a herb garden, maple walk and folly. The aspiration is that the Whites will be just the first of many such equally-deserving recipients of the prize over the years ahead.
For more information about Ballysallagh and its restoration, please see today’s Irish Times: Restoring country home glory takes blood, sweat and tears (irishtimes.com)
and for more on the house’s history:
Of the Middle Size « The Irish Aesthete