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Dumbed-down Ireland

Features |

It isn’t just the National Trust that’s patronising visitors. Across the Irish Sea, stately homes are racing downmarket, says George Gossip

The dumbing down of country houses isn’t just an English phenomenon. Sadly, many of the National Trust’s new methods and concepts have been brought to Irish shores, where they are presented as the essential recipe for survival. There is no conclusive evidence to show this policy works in England, where there is a long history of visiting country houses. So it seems strange that Irish owners are asked to adopt the same strategy, when house-visiting is not high on the agenda of the their fellow citizens. Owners of Irish country houses are encouraged to erect irrelevant, misleading signs, and concoct fanciful, inaccurate stories. They are urged to create visually intrusive playgrounds and car parks, develop tea shops for non-existent visitors and rearrange historic interiors to present a new, untried perception of what visitors ought to see. Innovation, originality and reinterpretation are in vogue, while curatorship, connoisseurship and accuracy are deplored...

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