A GROUP of conservationists are to meet tomorrow to discuss plans to purchase Lissadell House in Co Sligo, the family home of Countess Markievicz, on behalf of the State.
The ad-hoc group, which includes politicians and business people, are to meet in Dublin's Mansion House tomorrow evening to discuss plans to secure the house pending a decision by Environment Minister Martin Cullen on whether the State will meet the €3m asking price. Spokesman Damien Cassidy said the group included politicians Eoin Ryan (Fianna Fail), Joe Costello (Labour), former Lord Mayor Dermot Lacey (Lab), and former Fianna Fail Minister for Foreign Affairs David Andrews. Also among the group are business people who have approached various financial institutions to explore the possibility of securing a bridging loan to purchase the house, which sits on 400 acres about seven miles from Sligo town. Mr Cassidy said the group would then hold the house in trust for the State until money became available from the Exchequer to repay the loan. Lissadell House was built 170 years ago, but the Gore-Booth family has lived in the area for more than 400 years. Present owner Josslyn Gore-Booth has put it up for sale as the family can no longer afford to maintain the house in good repair, estimated to cost more than €100,000 a year. The family have publicly expressed their desire for the State to purchase the home of Constance Gore-Booth-Markievicz, the first Free State woman TD, and her poet sister Eva. The Office of Public Works have said they cannot afford it, but the Environment Minister has sent a deputation to the house to look at it. A spokesman for Mr Cullen said yesterday that a group of officials had travelled to Co Sligo to assess the overall condition of the house, and that when the minister received their report he would consider the purchase. He said the minister would have to consider if purchasing the property represented good value for money. Expensive repairs might have to be carried out, he added. But Mr Cassidy said that for 40 years Kilmainham had been lying idle, "and now it's Ireland's premier museum. There's money to be made from it." Paul Melia
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