Almost half of the people of Munster thing the Jameson building in Midleton should be given heritage status. Photo: Chris Hill

Most prefer to see renovation

Almost 90% of people in Munster would prefer to renovate a heritage building rather than demolish it to build something new, according to new findings.

The research, carried out by Ecclesiastical Insurance to coincide with National Heritage Week, has underlined the importance of built heritage to Irish culture and our future generations.

It found that 46% of Munster people believe Jameson’s Distillery in Midleton should be given heritage status.

Nationally, the findings also showed that 73% of Irish people want to protect the country’s built heritage for future generations, with that number being higher amongst those aged 55 and over.

Built heritage is defined by the Heritage Council as historical sites, buildings, monuments, installations or remains, which are associated with architectural, cultural, social, political, economic or military history.

Of those surveyed, 65% believe the benefits of protecting heritage sites are educational, while 64% believe the main benefit is to ensure Irish people don’t forget their past.

Figures also showed that a third of Irish people believe current policies and laws are not strong enough to protect built heritage from development.

More than half felt that Ireland should make built heritage more attractive for tourists, with that number increasing among Gen Zs.

The Rock of Cashel (27%), Dublin Castle (11%), Bunratty Castle (25%) and Kilkenny Castle (13%) are among the most popular tourist attractions that the respondents from Munster would bring overseas tourists to visit.

Nationally, 52% of those who visit built heritage sites are most excited about learning the history of the site, 16% visit them for the architecture, while 15% of Irish people do so due to a sense of national pride.

When it comes to protecting built heritage, 60% of those who took part would like to see the site and its surroundings taken care of by an on-hand team. More than half would like to involve their local authorities and volunteers to look after the site and 38% would be in favour of having a warden on-site during busy periods, like the summer holidays.

Commenting on the research, David Lane, Managing Director at Ecclesiastical Insurance, said it is very important to create awareness around the importance of built heritage and its cultural impact in Ireland.

“As a specialist insurer in the heritage sector, we know that Ireland has some fantastic heritage sites that add real value to Irish history and what it means to be Irish. Therefore, it is important that we continue to protect our built heritage for future generations as well as renovate for greater purpose.”