Ballina Gate Lodge has been awarded funding of €240,000 as part of a heritage and conservation project that will see the structure being opened as a residence for artists, writers, ecologists, historians, environmentalists and community engagement.
Ballina is just one of three conservation projects for which funding has been announced, under the 2023 Historic Towns Initiative (HTI ) initiative. The project's stated aims are 'to continue the conservation works to the Belleek Gate Lodge Protected Structure, which it is expected will allow for re-use of the structure as a residence for artists, writers, ecologists, historians, environmentalists and community engagement'.
The Heritage Council and Minister of State Malcolm Noonan TD announced this week that 11 historic towns will share €1.3m funding under the HTI initiative, stating that 'the funding will help to provide jobs through heritage-led regeneration, aid the rebuilding of local economies, and address vacancy with heritage as the consistent focal point'.
Ballina TD Dara Calleary warmly welcomed the news, stating: “This funding follows previously awarded grants of €95,000 and €160,000 which I secured under the Historic Towns Initiative in 2021 and 2022 – the completed project will add immensely to the attractiveness of Ballina as a centre of learning and town of significant historic importance."
A joint initiative between the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, and the Heritage Council, this year’s scheme follows on from highly successful projects during 2018 to 2022. The HTI seeks proposals that encourage the specific re-use of historic buildings with works on this year’s projects to be completed before the end of the year.
Commenting, Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD said: “This announcement demonstrates our commitment to heritage-led regeneration as part of our efforts to tackle vacancy and roll out our Town Centre First policy, creating town centres that function as viable, vibrant and attractive locations for people to live, work and visit.”
Chairperson of the Heritage Council, Dr Martina Moloney said: “It is appropriate that in a week where we as a country celebrate our national cultural heritage for St Patrick’s Day, that we can admire the efforts of local authority partners and communities in preserving and protecting our valuable built heritage through the Historic Towns Initiative. It is a fantastic scheme which will play a pivotal role in facilitating the re-use of vacant buildings in our town centres by tackling dereliction and helping us meet our climate change targets.”
Chief Executive of the Heritage Council, Virginia Teehan added: “Collaboration is the cornerstone of the scheme which owes its success to the determination of community groups, local authority partners and colleagues in Government, all of whom work together with the Heritage Council to guarantee that our rich heritage is cared for and protected.”