By Colin Gleeson and Elaine Keogh, Irish Independent
Tuesday August 24 2010
ARISTOCRAT Lord Henry Mountcharles has donated four 18th-Century cottages that formerly housed workers of the Slane Castle estate to boost tourism in Slane village.
The single-storey stone artisan buildings, located on Chapel Street in Slane, Co Meath, were built in 1701 by the Conyngham family, who have owned the Slane estate since that time.
Lord Henry, the current head of the family, yesterday "gifted" the cottages to the local authority.
The buildings have been vacant for many years and will require refurbishment by the council, which plans to use them as a tourism and heritage centre.
Lord Henry said he wanted to see the cottages become "a heartbeat" for tourism in the area.
"Slane has such a vibrant and rich heritage going back to St Patrick," he said. "It is one of the most significant 18th-century villages in the country, and it needed a boost in terms of getting a heartbeat in the centre.
"I decided these buildings were absolutely ideal. They are in a central location and are at the starting point of the Slane heritage trail.
"I also made a commitment that we as a family will kickstart the project, in terms of what is going to happen inside the building, with a gift or a grant to the Slane Historical Society, to assist with things like audiovisual displays.
"It is really important there be community development if we're going to get ourselves out of the hole we're in.
"Tourism is one of the most important things.
"The local hotel here has closed down, and other businesses in the area have also closed down. Hopefully, the more visitors we can attract, it will work as part of a revitalisation.
"I love this area and that is why I'm doing this. I grew up here and this is where my heart lies. I have grandchildren living in the village," he added.
A spokesperson for Meath county manager Tom Dowling said he was delighted with the gift, and plans to restore the cottages are in place.