Historic Houses of Ireland Conference

Through its annual Historic Houses of Ireland Conference, the CSHIHE provides a forum for contact and debate between the proprietors and curators of houses in both public and private hands throughout Ireland and overseas.

It was at the opening of the third annual conference in 2005 that An Taoiseach remarked: ‘It is particularly encouraging to see a Centre, which was launched formally just one year ago, play such an active role in stimulating discussion on the importance of Irish historic houses.’ He further contended that the annual conference was particularly valuable ‘in heightening public awareness of the importance of preserving Irish big houses and addressing the many issues faced by private owners, NGOs and the State in doing so.’ 

In 2008, the then Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, stated: ‘The conference is undoubtedly the annual highlight of the Centre’s work and makes an important contribution towards the work of protecting our built heritage, providing a forum for exchange of information and an opportunity for networking and debate.’

Past conference speakers have included public and private house proprietors, managers and personnel as well as representatives of various government departments.  Just as importantly, the annual conference has attracted a much wider international audience and has drawn eminent speakers from Britain, Europe and America including:

  • Martin Allfrey, Head Curator, Collections, English Heritage
  • Rosemary Baird, Curator, Goodwood House, UK
  • Toby Barnard, Hertford College, Oxford University, UK
  • Peter Brown, Curator, Fairfax House, York, UK
  • Caroline Carr-Whitworth, Curator, Brodsworth Hall, Yorkshire, UK
  • David Cannadine, then Director of the Institute of Historical Research, University of London, UK
  • R.F. Foster, Carroll Professor of Irish History, Hertford College, Oxford University, UK
  • Ian Gow, National Trust Scotland
  • Tim Knox, Curator, Sir John Soane’s Museum, London, UK
  • Natalia Kopelyanskya, Russian Institute of Cultural Studies, Moscow, Russia
  • James Lomax, Curator, Temple Newsam House, Leeds Museum & Galleries, UK
  • Jeremy Musson, then Architectural Editor, Country Life Magazine, UK
  • Christopher Ridgway, Curator, Castle Howard and Co-Chair YCHP, UK
  • Anna Robinson, Head of House and Collections, Harewood House, Yorkshire, UK
  • Olga Sinitsyna, Deputy-Director General, State Library for Foreign Literature, Moscow, Russia
  • Ghislain d’Ursel (Executive President, European Historic Houses), France
  • Olivier, Vicomte de Rohan, President Société des Amis de Versailles and Chair, Union Of European Historic Houses Associations (UEHHA)
  • Jim Vaughan, Vice-President, Stewardship of Historic Sites, National Trust For Historic Preservation, Washington D.C., USA
  • Allen Warren, Co-Chair Yorkshire Country House Partnership, UK
  • Francois-Emmanuel de Wasseige, Universite Libre De Bruxelles, Belgium
  • Giles Waterfield, Director, The Attingham Trust for the Study of Historic Houses and Collections, UK
  • Merlin Waterson, Director Of Historic Properties, National Trust, London, UK
  • Richard Wheeler, The National Trust, UK
  • Adam White, Curator of Collections, Lotherton Hall, Leeds Museums and Galleries, UK
  • Maria Theresia von Wietersheim-Meran, historian, Austria

Thus, the conference has been the occasion of securing links with a variety of overseas projects.  The educational and public information benefits arising from the annual conference facilitated by the CSHIHE are significant. The discussion forums, both formal and informal, that the conference provides enhances the learning experiences and make it an active one. Delegates, who share a common interest in Ireland’s built heritage and landscapes, find it  invaluable in terms of networking and the sharing of knowledge, skills and experiences.