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Russborough House to receive half a million euro of public money for upgrade

One of Ireland's best-known stately houses, threatened with closure last year, is to get an upgrade after securing half a million euro in funding, it has been announced.

Heritage Minister Heather Humphreys said she was giving 250,000 euro of public money to Russborough House, overlooking Blessington Lakes in Co Wicklow.

The grant to Russborough owners Alfred Beit Foundation is being matched by the Apollo Trust in the UK.

The foundation warned last year the house was threatened with closure unless it could create a 15 million euro fund to secure its long-term viability.

A controversial sale of "Old Master" paintings from its collection earlier this year is believed to have raised 7 million euro, staving off the threat.

Ms Humphreys said: "This is the first time in a number of years, thanks to the improving economy, that my department has been in a position to provide capital support towards the house.

"Russborough is itself emerging from a difficult financial situation and I would like to pay tribute to the efforts made by the Alfred Beit Foundation to put the operations of the house on a more sustainable basis."

More than 100,000 people visited Russborough and its 200-acre estate this year. The owners are planning to develop the attraction as a centre for education in the arts.

Reputed to be the longest house in Ireland, Russborough was built from 1741 to 1755 for Joseph Leeson, 1st Earl of Milltown.

It was left in trust to the people of Ireland by art collectors Sir Alfred and Lady Beit and is run by the Alfred Beit Foundation.

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