Ireland: celebration to mark success of the Fota Walled Garden process

The ceremony for the Fota Walled Garden, winner of an EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award 2015 in the Education, Training and Awareness Raising category, was held on its premises in Cork on the afternoon of 22 October 2015. John Sell, Executive Vice-President of Europa Nostra, presented the Award to a group of volunteers involved in the programme in front of an audience of 90 people. The event was honoured by the presence of the Irish Minister of State Sean Sherlock.

Given that the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award was directed towards the many volunteers who have been working for several years in Fota’s Walled Garden or Frame Yard, the volunteers were welcomed as guests to the ceremony. The attendees were led to the Frame Yard and positioned outside to listen to short speeches delivered by the various representatives.

James Osborne and Kevin Baird, Chair and CEO respectively of the Irish Heritage Trust, the charity which owns and manages the Fota House, Arboretum and Gardens, and Michael Martin, General Manager of the site, addressed the audience. Claire Cullinane, Deputy Mayor of County Cork, Sean Sherlock, Minister of State for Development, Trade Promotion and North-South Cooperation at the Department of Foreign Affairs, and John Sell, Executive Vice-President of Europa Nostra, also conveyed important messages.

“You have promoted new horticultural activities, developed skills, produced items for sale, and provided benefit and profit to the estate as a whole. You have combined professional knowledge and experience with the enthusiasm and hard work of volunteers. Your example demonstrates how this is a recipe for success in the heritage world. Yes we need money, skills and resources but without enthusiasm and imagination the full potential of heritage will not be realised,” stated the Executive Vice-President of Europa Nostra.

Each speaker reiterated the importance of the pan-European heritage organisation Europa Nostra and the effect of the Irish Heritage Trust having been awarded such a prestigious prize for its training and awareness raising project at the Fota Walled Garden.

Just before the skies darkened, visitors were brought back to the house, to the historic Long Gallery where food and drink awaited, the catering having been sponsored by the Cork office of a major international technology company which wished to remain anonymous. The festive gathering was enhanced by a performance of classical string music.

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