Election candidates call for action to save Westport House
TWO Mayo general election candidates have called for immediate government action to save Westport House.
Renua candidate Michael Farrington has demanded that An Taoiseach takes immediate action to preserve the amenity for the people of Mayo.
He pointed out that with over 100,000 visitors each year, the house makes an invaluable contribution to Westport and Mayo's tourist industry. To lose that income would have a 'devastating' impact.
Mr. Farrington also expressed concern as to the future of the antiques in the stately home and what will become of them.
“There are historic pieces which are not just significant for the people of Mayo but for Ireland as a whole,” he stated.
Houses like Westport House need to be preserved, he added.
Independent candidate Dr Jerry Cowley, said steps must be taken to ensure Westport House is not lost 'by the failure of the government and Fine Gael'.
He elaborated: 'Today it was announced that the Browne family have reluctantly decided to place the iconic Westport house on the market. There is a real fear now that some wealthy foreigner may decide to buy Westport House and then close it to the public.
“I am very concerned that the valuable artefacts and antiques currently on display in the house will be scattered across the world. This would be a tragedy considering the effort put in by the Browne family to keep it open to the public for the past 50 years.
'Westport House attracts over 100,000 visitors a year with an estimated value to the local economy of €50 million.
'It is an imperative that all stakeholders ensure that this historic monument and significant tourism attraction is not lost forever. I am asking Mayo County Council and the Department of Arts , Heritage and the Gaeltacht to put their heads together to work out a solution with the Browne family to ensure this important part of our history is not lost forever.
'If they can do it in Ballina for the proposed Mary Robinson museum there is no reason why it cannot be done for Westport House and the people of Westport.”