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Major Historic Towns Initiative for Ramelton

The historic built environment of Ramelton will receive much-needed support and investment following the announcement that The Heritage Council has awarded €200,000 to a heritage-led regeneration initiative in the town this year.  The Heritage Office and Conservation Office of Donegal County Council in partnership with the Ramelton Georgian Society, Dedalus Architecture and the local community and property owners were awarded €200,000 under The Heritage Council’s Historic Towns Initiative.  This is the second success for Donegal County Council under the Historic Towns Initiative following its award of €200,000 under the scheme last year for Church Lane, Letterkenny.  The award will be augmented with €50,000 in funding from Donegal County Council as well as private investment by property owners.

“There is a growing recognition that the survival and successful regeneration of our towns and villages needs to be based on, and informed by, an appreciation of and investment in our built heritage” said Joseph Gallagher, County Donegal Heritage Officer.  “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.  Ramelton has a very rich history and this is manifest in, and communicated by, its historic buildings.  We hope that the Historic Towns Initiative in Ramelton this year and the award-winning initiative on Church Lane, Letterkenny last year will inspire other heritage-led initiatives in towns and villages elsewhere in the county.”

‘The House on the Brae’, which is in the guardianship of the Ramelton Georgian Society, will undergo significant conservation works under the Heritage Council’s Historic Towns Initiative.

“Fourteen historic buildings along Castle Street, at the Market Cross and the House on the Brae on Bridge Street will benefit from a total investment of over €420,000” 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 and reinstatement of historic shopfronts using traditional materials and informed by best conservation practice.  In our application, we worked closely with Joe Birney, Jean Winston and the Ramelton Georgian Society and grade one conservation architect Duncan McLaren of Dedalus Architecture who will provide conservation supervision for the project.  The initiative also has the support of the 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 the public realm scheme being designed by the Regeneration & Development Team of Donegal County Council.”

The Ramelton Historic Towns Initiative contributes to the achievement of Action 1 (Repair of Historic Buildings and Streets) in the recently-launched Ramelton Action Plan.  All 14 buildings that are the subject of the Ramelton Historic Towns Initiative are Protected Structures or included on the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.  A Protected Structure is a structure that is protected under the Planning & Development Act and is considered to be 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 Ramelton.  Five other towns countrywide benefitted under this year’s Historic Towns Initiative this year: Ballina, County Mayo (€140,000); Clones, County Monaghan (€103,000); Roscommon, County Roscommon (€157,000); Sligo, County Sligo (€200,000) and Tralee, County Kerry (€200,000).  

Malcolm Noonan, Minister of State for Heritage said: “Firstly, as many people know, I am committed to heritage-led regeneration of our towns and villages, so I am truly delighted that one of my first roles as Minister is to congratulate the six successful towns that will benefit from the Historic Towns Initiative 2020.  We are in unprecedented times and our communities have been confronted with challenges and hardships that are both unique and extraordinary. My hope is that funding such as this can, through heritage-led regeneration, bring economic benefits to our historic towns helping them to prosper once again.  We wish to put built, cultural and natural heritage at the front of both government policy and the recovery of the country and soI look forward to working with The Heritage Council and the Department on similar initiatives over the coming months and years.”

Every local authority can submit one application to the Historic Towns Initiative each year.  “Each of the successful towns submitted a plan-led application with a clear vision, clearly achievable actions and the promise of strong public engagement” explained Virginia Teehan, Chief Executive of The Heritage Council. “The Heritage Council is very pleased to, once again, administer the Historic Towns Initiative in 2020. Working with partners to preserve our built heritage is an important Heritage Council priority and we very much look forward to working with Minister Noonan in this, and all aspects, of the care of our rich heritage.”  Chairman of The Heritage Council, Michael Parsons added: “It is wonderful to be in a position to support such a range of projects across the country. The Heritage Council is delighted that Minister Noonan has taken up this brief and given his strong support for this joint initiative.”

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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