Historic paintings donated to Fota


Seven historic paintings worth almost €2 million have been donated to Fota House in Cork.

Local businessman Tom McCarthy handed the artwork over to the Irish Heritage Trust for display in the stately home.

The pictures were originally on show in Fota House as part of the Wood Collection in the 1980's. But when Mr McCarthy learned there was a risk the works could be sold to an oversees buyer, he snapped them up and gave them back to the trust, which acquired Fota House, Arboretum and Gardens in December.

"Fota House is an important cultural asset to the Cork area and this donation will help the Trust deliver a great experience for visitors to this wonderful historic property," said the chairman of McCarthy Developments, a privately owned property development company. "We are delighted to have been able to help."

The donation includes three works by William Ashford featuring a view of the lakes of Killarney, dated 1778, Cloghoughter Castle and lake in Co Cavan, and a later painting of Ireland's Eye which shows the old village of Howth in 1808.

Paintings by Thomas Roberts and Robert Carver also reveal captivating 18th century landscapes of Ireland. The paintings are currently on display at the University of Limerick but will be returned to Fota once enough money is raised to carry out the necessary security work to display the pictures safely.

Kevin Baird, of Irish Heritage Trust, said: "We are extremely grateful to the McCarthy family for the tremendous effort they made to save these paintings and then give them to the Irish Heritage Trust."

Minister for Environment John Gormley said the works - valued at €1.9 million - were an important milestone in the development of the Irish Heritage Trust.

"This is the first major donation by private individuals to the Trust and also the first use of the tax relief legislation introduced by government to support this initiative," he said.

"These pictures represent the type of fine Irish 18th & 19th Century art once common in great Irish Houses and this gift will allow them to once again be displayed at Fota.

"The Government firmly believes that these historic properties must be cared for and opened up for the public to enjoy and to provide employment and tourism opportunities across Ireland."