herald

Wednesday 23 August 2017

Gigs pay for restoration of 'Hansel and Gretel' House

Bruce Sleeman, Secretary of RHSI pictured outside the refurbished Laurelmere House, Marlay Park, Rathfarnham
Bruce Sleeman, Secretary of RHSI pictured outside the refurbished Laurelmere House, Marlay Park, Rathfarnham
Bruce Sleeman, Secretary of RHSI pictured outside the refurbished Laurelmere House, Marlay Park, Rathfarnham

This fairytale cottage in Marlay Park has been given a new lease of life thanks to the money generated by the annual Marlay Park gigs.

Laurelmere Cottage, which is part of the Marlay House estate, is known locally as the Hansel and Gretel House.

Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council has refurbished the 18th Century building in Rathfarnham at a cost of €536,000.

It has been in the council's possession since 1973 but had fallen into a state of disrepair.

Renovation work by the country council's architects' department began last year.

"A previous aborted restoration project had removed much of the interior plaster and the timber ground floor had also been removed having collapsed due to damp and wet rot," a spokesperson told the Herald.

The roof was also damaged and woodworm had caused internal timbers to deteriorate.

However, on foot of the extensive repair works, the Royal Horticultural Society of Ireland (RHSI) has moved its offices into the historic property.

Bruce Sleeman of the RHSI said the group's new home is a "great boon for the society".

Before moving into Laurelmere Cottage, the society was based in Cabinteely House which was not as accessible to the public.

"Here we have a lecture room so we will be able to have demonstrations that are open to members and to the public," said Mr Sleeman.

fantastic

"It looks fantastic. The restoration is totally in keeping with the feel of the building."

In addition to the offices of both the RHSI and horticulturist Ciaran Burke's gardening school, there is also a library and two reception rooms in the cottage.

The grounds of the cottage are also set to be redesigned and will be opened to members of the public.

A designer has been appointed to create a garden that will be suited to the grandeur of Marlay Park.

Mr Burke will also use Laurelmere Cottage as the base for his school that offers courses for those who fancy getting to know a lot more about gardening.

The expert also offers a course for people who are currently unemployed called the New Growth Project.

Laurelmere Cottage was originally in the thatched "cottage ornee" style, but was remodelled with a slate roof in the art and crafts style of the 1870.

The building's original features were retained as much as possible during the recent renovation works.

hnews@herald.ie

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