Minister Paul Kehoe, TD today (Thursday, 23rd February) welcomed Minister for the Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys TD on a whistle-stop tour of some of the shining lights of the Wexford Arts and Heritage offering.
Starting in Castlebridge, Minister Humphreys met with the restoration committee for Castlebridge House and Conservatory to learn more about the history of the building and to discuss their plans to restore the historic structure.
The next stop incorporated a visit to Johnstown Castle, where Minister’s Kehoe and Humphreys met with representatives from Teagasc and the Heritage Foundation to receive an update on the exciting plans for the further development of the Castle and its grounds, followed by a tour of the Agricultural Museum.
The award winning Forge Craft Shop in Baldwinstown was next on the agenda, where master craftsman Padraig Parle and his wife Mairead provided an insight into their business which has significantly developed over the years with the support of Wexford Local Development. Speaking at the Forge Minister Kehoe reflected on hearing Padraig provide inspiration to young entrepreneurs and outlined that the Parle’s and their business were an example of the dedication, skill, craftsmanship and vision of the Wexford Arts scene.
Onwards to the Wexford Arts Centre, who have just received funding of €1 Million from the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs to make significant changes to their offering. While there, Minister Humphreys had the opportunity to review first-hand the plans that her Department is funding with members of the Board of Directors and to meet the cast of Portia Coughlan, who were just about to take the stage.
Final stop, Enniscorthy, where the Ministers visited the Athenaeum, which stands proudly in the heart of the town following its renovation as part of the Government’s 1916 Commemoration Programme. Minister Humphreys had to opportunity to review some of the historic documents on show in the Athenaeum and tour the full premises and view the work undertaken to ensure that Enniscorthy has a permanent legacy of its part in the 1916 Rising.
During the visit, both Minister Kehoe and Humphreys emphasised the importance of investment into both Rural Ireland and the Arts and the obvious benefits to these developments to the local economy. Minister Kehoe stated; “I believe in Rural Ireland and I believe that there is enormous future potential in Wexford. As a Government, we are putting huge focus into planning for the future so that our children can live in a country that meets their needs. We cannot continue the type of unbalanced development that has seen major growth only in the Dublin area. We need strong well developed cities across the country providing regional balance, encouraging people to live and work outside of Dublin.
The Introduction of The Action Plan for Rural Ireland, the Roll out of Ireland’s Ancient East and the long-term view being taking with the development of Ireland 2040 shows a coordinated concerted effort to ensure that we protect and further develop our rural lifestyle throughout the country.”