Irish Heritage Trust

What is the Irish Heritage Trust?

The Irish Heritage Trust is an independent registered charity which manages and cares for some of Ireland’s most prestigious house, gardens, and museums. It was established in 2006 to care for and bring to life a variety of historic houses, gardens, and parklands in Ireland, while developing innovative visitor experiences at these beautiful places:

  • Fota House & Gardens (Cork)
  • Johnstown Castle Estate, Museum & Gardens (Wexford)
  • Strokestown Park & The National Famine Museum (Roscommon)

Through tourism, employment, and a successful volunteering programme, the Irish Heritage Trust is bringing benefits to local communities and businesses. It aims to achieve financial sustainability for these properties so that they can continue to play a vibrant role in their communities and beyond for current and future generations.

Environmental sustainability is a core objective too, and we are committed to the protection and enhancement of our natural heritage across all of the properties in our care.

As we continue to share these wonderful houses, gardens, and museums in meaningful ways, we are inspired by our belief that they will not only survive but flourish as thriving centres of heritage, culture, and enjoyment.

What Does the Irish Heritage Trust Do at Fota House, Arboretum & Gardens?

  • The Irish Heritage Trust has been responsible for conserving Fota House since 2007 and manages its collections to museum standards.
  • We take care of its vibrant visitor experience and education programmes.
  • We support volunteer efforts, which connect Fota House, Arboretum & Gardens with the local community in lots of important ways.

Recent Projects

An old picture frame being tended to by a curator.

Art Restoration

Our painting collection is considered to be one of the finest collections of landscape painting outside the National Gallery of Ireland and it includes works by William Ashford PRHA, Robert Carver, Jonathan Fisher and Thomas Roberts.

During the summers of 2017/8, thanks to support from the Heritage Council, we were able to begin the painstaking restoration of eight paintings from the Fota House Collection.

Justin Laffan, painting conservator, spent several weeks restoring these artworks following best practice conservation guidelines. Justin worked in full view of our visitors, who welcomed the opportunity to see the fascinating art restoration process in action. There is still more work to do on the rest of the collection of paintings at Fota House, but this was an excellent start!

Launching an Art Tour

In 2019, we began offering an art tour which gives visitors a full introduction to Fota’s artworks, their stories, and their significance.

Each of Fota’s collections has unique insights to offer into life in Ireland in times past, and this tour is already proving a hit with school groups and visitors of all ages.

Supporting Learning About Heritage and Nature

The Irish Heritage Trust has worked with Trinity College, Dublin, to create online Learning Zones focused on the history of Fota House, Arboretum & Gardens.

We also support a local school with ongoing learning modules focused on biodiversity and pollinators. Our volunteer programme encourages learning about food production and biodiversity too, and we are constantly working on creating new and exciting educational experiences at Fota.

Plans for the Future

Over the coming years, through major funding programmes and partnerships, we will carry out further work to conserve Strokestown Park and enhance its role in rural regeneration. Our aim is to fulfil The National Famine Museum | Strokestown Park’s potential as a local amenity, a national asset, and an international resource for learning about the Great Irish Famine.

We already working on bringing the house and community together through our new volunteering programme and successful events, such as the Plant Fair and Family Féte, which are bringing new audiences to the house and gardens.

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