The Athlone Architectural Heritage Group are calling on Athlone Town Council to consider acquiring Court Devenish House as an alternative venue for the town art gallery.
The property, which has been on the market for the last few years, is to go for public auction at the Radisson Blu Hotel next Friday April 30.
Athlone Architectural Heritage Group believe the Georgian house would be a better location for an art gallery than Fr Mathew Hall, which they believe would serve better as a tourist office and a John McCormack museum.
“Now that the market has changed utterly due to the national economic woes, the opportunity to acquire this valuable piece of Athlone history presents the town council with a unique opportunity,” say the group.
“As works are due to commence on the proposed structural and design alterations to Fr Mathew Hall, we urgently appeal to Athlone Town Council to consider acquiring Court Devenish House.
“In our submission to Athlone Town Council in the Part 8 Planning Process, we proposed Court Devenish House as a more suitable location for the art gallery. The grounds contain the largest visible extent of the old Town Wall (c 1251 ) and the location in its entirety would provide a beautiful and safe public amenity. A modern wing at the rear of the building could be reconstructed to provide suitable gallery space.”
Located within 100 yards of the town bridge, the historic Court Devenish House dates from 1791. The ruins of the original Court Devenish House, dating from 1620s, remain in the grounds with three intact cut-stone Jacobean windows. The original Court Devenish House was largely destroyed during the 1691 siege by Williamite forces.
“Although the town council has been aware that Court Devenish House was on the market for €1m two years ago, they are intent on spending €3.2m on the construction of the art gallery at Fr Mathew Hall,” say the Athlone Architectural Heritage Group.
“The development at Fr Mathew Hall will reflect poorly on Athlone Town Council's competence to provide a good aesthetic appearance to a major historic (and archaeologically sensitive ) national landmark. Preparatory works, including an archaeological assessment of the property are ongoing.”
To keep up with their ongoing campaign and find out some interesting facts about Athlone’s rich heritage, visit Athlone Architectural Heritage Group’s website at www.athloneheritage.com