Ireland's remaining historic houses are a highly important and valuable cultural resource. These houses and their contents are part of the physical evidence that helps to define the cultural and historical relationship between Ireland and the rest of Europe. Historic houses and their estates, gardens, demesnes and parks have long had (and continue to occupy) a central position in the economic and social life of the communities in which they were built.
The preservation of this part of Ireland's cultural heritage is of national importance. This has been recognised by successive governments, who have enacted legislation intended to safeguard historic houses, their parks and contents, for current and future generations and in the public interest.
Heritage properties that remain in private hands have a unique value, especially those that have been owned by the same family for several generations. Typically, they contain artefacts and archives that greatly enhance the cultural and historical significance of each country house in its locality, and indeed many historic houses encapsulate the history of their surrounding regions.
Their owners preserve valuable longstanding relationships with local communities and, if houses are sold and their contents dispersed, their cultural, historical and social value is irreversibly reduced.