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Maintenance of wonderful house is still ongoing

I WOULD like to correct the article by Linda Stewart about Ballywalter Park (News, December 9). It is wrong to describe this magnificent Italianate house, a major work of Sir Charles Lanyon and one of the most important Victorian houses in Northern Ireland, as "a crumbling semi-derelict structure" with parts that were "uninhabitable" prior to a transformation brought about by the present Lord Dunleath.

The maintenance and stewardship of such an important part of Ulster's architecture heritage places a burden on any owner, and it is, of course, encouraging to read that a process, initiated by previous members of the Mulholland family, continues today.

Since the early 1960s, considerable financial investment and scrupulous care were devoted to the conservation and maintenance of this huge house, in which its then owner, Henry 4th Lord Dunleath, took particular pride.

It was he who restored the damage, after the fire of 1973, and who reset the glazed dome over the staircase which had lifted after a gas explosion.

In March 1967, the architectural history of the house was the subject of two detailed articles, which I wrote as an architectural editor for Country Life magazine. The articles were illustrated with 12 large photographs, which record the house, the principal reception rooms and the gardens all in good order and essentially as they appear today.

Subsequently, the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society published an illustrated monograph on Ballywalter Park, and through the years many people, including visitors from that society and from the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain, have been given a warm and, for those lucky enough to stay there, most comfortable welcome in the house.

This is a tradition that is generously continued by the present family.

PROFESSOR ALISTAIR ROWAN FRSE

Dublin

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