THE MINISTER for Agriculture and Rural Development, Michelle Gildernew visited Lissan House outside Cookstown to hear of ambitious redevelopment plans by Friends of Lissan Trust (FOLT) to restore the House.
The redevelopment plans will provide new tourist, community and heritage facilities at the house. Phase one of the project is ready to commence and includes an award of £250,000 by South West Action for Rural Development (SWARD) from Axis 3 of the Rural Development Programme delivered part funded by the European Agriculture and Rural Development Fund.
During her visit the Minister was appraised of the work by Kieran Haughey Chair of FOLT. The redevelopment will begin soon to restore the main building and grounds to their former state.
The overall project costs for the first phase of development will be £1.17m.
Speaking on her tour of the House and grounds, the Minister said: “I am very proud that my Department are in a position to financially assist the redevelopment plans for Lissan House.
“The Rural Development Programme has been able to part fund the work of restoring the main house and grounds, which when completed will enable tours to take place for visitors, tourists and school parties.
“Projects like Lissan House will provide a significant boost to the local economy by attracting visitors and tourists whose expenditure will create or maintain jobs.”
The Minister added: “I want to congratulate the Directors of Friends of Lissan House on realising their dream for this project. They have strived for a number of years to get the funding support necessary to carry out the work which when completed, will breathe new life into Lissan House and preserve a part of the heritage of the area, which stretches back some 400 years.”
Kieran Haughey, Chair of FOLT said: “Lissan Estate had been home to the Staples family for almost 400 years and it was Hazel Dolling’s wish (the last inhabitant) that if a viable project could be developed and funded that she would gift the Estate to the community.”
The Contractor is already on site and will reroof the House, repair the windows and re-plaster the building together with construction of a new access road and children’s play area. Lissan House is scheduled to reopen next July.
Cllr Trevor Wilson, Chairman of SWARD Joint Council Committee said: “SWARD is delighted to help preserve the unique heritage of Lissan House situated in the heart of Cookstown District. The preservation of this historical building will be of great benefit to the local community in Mid Ulster, tourists and for future generations. The project is testament to the dedication and vision by the Friends of Lissan Trust.”
Mr Austin Kelly, Chairman of SWARD Local Action Group said: “The significant funding committed by SWARD and others will help bring this historic property back to life as a key community asset and make it more accessible to the local community, and is complementary to the SWARD Rural Development Strategy.”
Councillor John McNamee, Chairman of Cookstown District Council stated: “I am extremely pleased that Cookstown District Council has committed substantial funding to restore and preserve Lissan House, one of our key heritage sites.
“This 17th century historic building project provides an excellent example of what can be achieved when local people work together.
“I extend my congratulations to the Friends of Lissan Trust for bringing this project to fruition, after many years of hard work.”
MID Ulster MLA Billy Armstrong added: “It is great news that this fantastic building that is steeped in history is to be the subject of a much needed restoration project.
“The Friends of Lissan House have been working tirelessly for almost ten years to secure funding to commence their ambitious work and have been duly rewarded.”