Our Story

When the Irish Heritage Trust began caring for Fota House and its estate on Fota Island in 2007, the property was in need of special care and attention.

Today, Fota House is one of Ireland’s great houses, home to a nationally significant collection of paintings, a beautifully restored arboretum and gardens, and an award-winning volunteering programme. But in 2007, it was falling into disrepair.

Unique original features were at risk, including its impressive glasshouses and the Victorian Working Garden which had once kept the staff busy and its residents well-fed!

Renovating Fota House & Gardens

The Irish Heritage Trust immediately undertook an extensive programme of restoration, which was made possible thanks to the support of the Irish government, and other agencies including local authorities and the Office of Public Works.

The work carried out by our staff, heritage experts, skilled crafstpeople, and our amazing volunteers has allowed us to open up Fota House and its gardens to the public. Fota’s previously derelict rooms and neglected gardens are now gorgeous spaces where visitors can gain an authentic sense of what life was like for everyone who lived and worked in this Regency mansion and across the Fota Estate.

Our efforts led to Fota House, Arboretum & Gardens being granted museum status by the Heritage Council in recognition of the ongoing care given to conservation and visitor experience development, and this status was renewed in 2020.

Practical Improvements

In the early years, work needed to be done improve parking facilities, accessibility, and interpretation for visitors to Fota House. Fáilte Ireland – Ireland’s national tourism authority – partnered with the Irish Heritage Trust to support this work.

Another key restoration project was undertaken in the walled garden or frameyard, where Fota’s derelict glasshouses were restored to their former glory, and the work of conservation and restoration is ongoing across Fota House and the Estate.

All revenues generated at Fota are ploughed back into the Estate to support its financial independence, its environmental sustainability, and its roles in heritage, education, and community outreach.

Plans for the Future

Over the coming years, through major funding programmes and partnerships, we will carry out further work to conserve Fota House, Arboretum & Gardens and enhance the visitor experience we offer, as well as expanding our popular events programme.

We are continuing to invest in projects such as the restoration of Fota’s impressive art collection and efforts to establish our grounds as a Bee Sanctuary of national importance. We also want to continue to enhance Fota’s remarkable gardens and glasshouses, as an amenity for locals and visitors and as an educational resource.

Our aim is to fulfil the potential of Fota House, Arboretum & Gardens as a local amenity, a national asset, and an international resource for learning about Irish heritage, culture, biodiversity, and sustainability.

We are keen to explore partnerships and funding opportunities which may serve the wider community; the Trust’s volunteering initiatives; our education, gardening, and biodiversity work; and the Fota visitor experience.

To find out more about partnering with Fota House Arboretum & Gardens, contact Bryan Murphy on 021 4815543 or email b.murphy@irishheritagetrust.ie

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