Written Answers. - Architectural Heritage.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

79 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands the number of houses in County Kildare in private ownership approved by her Department as buildings of national interest; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19893/98]

Under section 19 of the Finance Act, 1982, tax relief may be allowed on expenditure incurred on the repair, maintenance or restoration of an approved building to a person who owns or occupies such a building which has been determined (a) by me to be intrinsically of significant scientific, historical, architectural or aesthetic interest and (b) by the Revenue Commissioners to be one to which reasonable access is afforded to the public. From the inception of this scheme in 1982 to date a total of 22 buildings in County Kildare have been determined to be intrinsically of significant scientific, historical, architectural or aesthetic interest. However, I have no details of how many of these buildings are accessible to the public as this is a matter between the owner or occupier and the Revenue Commissioners.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

81 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands the position in relation to proposed improvements at the Geraldine Castle, Maynooth, County Kildare; when the proposed works will start; the full extent of the works; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19895/98]

The Deputy may be aware of notification of decision of Kildare County Council dated 17/09/98 to grant permission for development works at Maynooth Castle subject to certain conditions. It remains open to third parties to appeal the decision to An Bord Pleanála within a month of that date. The next phase of the project will be to proceed to tender documentation stage having regard to the planning permission requirements, estimate of cost and funds available.

The proposed project is to re-roof the keep of Maynooth Castle, for the purpose of preserving and presenting the monument for public access in a form which maintains the landscape setting of the castle ruins, to build additions necessary for the use of the castle for exhibition, assembly, tours and meetings as well as providing services for guides. Building works will include landscaping and new paving as well as the provision of stairs, toilets and a lift in a new access tower at the north elevation, the erection of a new entrance kiosk and ancillary sewage works. Particular measures will have to be taken to ensure the full recording of the existing structure and archaeological features which will include a full detailed study of the existing castle and archaeological clearance of areas to be disturbed prior to commencement of works on site.

Subject to detailed estimates and funding, it is proposed that the first and main phase of the project comprising of works in the castle and access tower, including services, will start on site in the latter half of 1999 and will be completed by the end of the year 2000.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

82 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands the position in relation to works at Castletown House, Celbridge, County Kildare; the full extent of the proposed works; when these will be completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19896/98]

I am pleased to advise the Deputy that phase II of the works to the main block of Castletown House are now practically completed and will be finished by November next. This phase involves mechanical, electrical, fire and security works and structural repairs which are necessary to secure the fabric of the house and to install all the necessary infrastructure to ensure that it complies with the best current practice and standards for historic buildings in respect of fire, security, health and safety requirements.

There are a range of further works, consisting primarily of structural works, site services and finishes in key areas which ideally need to be undertaken before the house re-opens to the public. While these works could be undertaken at a later stage, it is more cost effective and less disruptive to undertake them while the house is closed. The objective, therefore, is to reopen the house to the public in Easter 1999.

All the works undertaken to date including the essential ones referred to earlier relate to securing the fabric of the house and to the protection of the house from such hazards as fire and intrusion. A further programme of works is proposed to undertake interior restoration in the house and to provide visitor facilities both in the house and in the demesne generally. It is proposed to undertake these works on a phased basis as resources permit.