Our Work

Conservation, education, and sustainability are at the core of our work to care for and share Ireland’s impressive cultural and natural heritage.

Our painstaking work to restore Ireland’s historic houses is bringing some of Ireland’s most impressive heritage properties back to their former glory. Every aspect of these special places – from the fabric of their buildings and their artwork, to their gorgeous gardens, decorative objects, and glittering glasshouses – needs thoughtful care and attention.

Aim and Objectives

The Irish Heritage Trust exists to benefit the community.
  • We acquire, manage, develop, operate and/or care for properties, objects, and artefacts of significant heritage and cultural value, particularly when they are at risk.
  • We work tirelessly to provide for their safekeeping, conservation, and maintenance.
  • We want to ensure that members of the public will be able to enjoy and appreciate them in perpetuity.

Enabling Powerful Experiences

Our conservation work across our houses, gardens, and museums adds to our visitors’ enjoyment and improves amenities for local communities. Recent improvement projects have included the development of a family-friendly Woodland Trail at Strokestown Park and the ambitious refurbishment of the National Famine Museum.

All of this work is made possible thanks to your visits, our wonderful volunteers, and generous donations. Your support means that Ireland’s heritage houses and gardens can be cared for and can continue to surprise and delight visitors from Ireland and across the world.

Visitors standing outside porte-cochère of gothic revival castle
Woman wears white gloves while handling old picture frame

Caring for Collections

Artworks, famine-era documents, agricultural machinery, vernacular furniture and children’s toys are just some of the intriguing objects to be found within unique collections, which were gathered in Ireland’s great houses over centuries. Each individual property also represents a collection of important architectural and decorative features, including intricate door cases, window architraves, plasterwork and mouldings. We care for all these items, as well as museum artefacts, ranging from farmhouse furniture to 19th-century photographic plates and extensive gardens and estates.

Recent improvement projects have included the ambitious redevelopment of the National Famine Museum at Strokestown Park, in addition to the portico restoration.

We draw on expert knowledge and advice in our conservation work, so that we can care for our collections appropriately. The Irish Heritage Trust works closely with conservation architects, painting conservers and restorers, textile conservers and furniture restorers. We also employ traditional craftsmanship, as far as possible, to preserve the important skills that helped to shape our houses, gardens, and collections.

Why is Constant Conservation Needed?

  • Neglect, moisture, sunlight, weather events and temperature shifts can all cause objects and buildings to deteriorate or disintegrate, further exacerbated by climate change.
  • Over the centuries, well-meaning attempts were made to clean some artefacts, but now – with specialist knowledge – we can protect and care for them so that future generations can enjoy them.
  • Insects and mould can start to spoil objects that are not carefully stored and cared for.

Our Role in Research

  • We host The Irish Famine Summer School every second year at Strokestown Park in association with our academic partners – Quinnipiac University, Connecticut, home of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute – to facilitate the sharing of knowledge, expertise, and the latest research.
  • We open our archives to international researchers studying a wide range of subjects including Irish history, architecture, agricultural practices, horticulture, social history, politics, art, and literature.

Fostering learning

We welcome visitors of all ages who want to learn the stories that our properties, gardens, objects and museums have to tell. We host school tours, study visits, and private tours that explore many different aspects of Irish culture, society, and the environment through the lens of ‘Big House’ history.

  • Nature and heritage trails, as well as hands-on tasks, involve children in active learning about very different Irish lives.
  • Immersive exhibitions at the state-of-the-art National Famine Museum and the Irish Agricultural Museum help learners of all ages to deepen their understanding of Ireland’s crisis and recovery.
  • We support our volunteers, providing them with training in the specialist skills needed to help them with their roles.

Discover the Past for Yourself

Learn about our collections and the stories they have to tell on tours of our houses, gardens, and museums. Or join us at one of our fascinating events, where you can explore Ireland’s heritage, culture and natural beauty and get behind-the-scenes access to our conservation projects.

Join Our Community