The Irish Historic Houses Association came into being after a series of discussions between small groups of historic house owners, which took place from the early 1990's onwards.
This gathered momentum with a series of small meetings from 2004 onwards. Then, in June 2007, Count Ghislain d'Ursel, President of the Union of European Historic Houses Associations, addressed the annual Historic House Conference of the Centre for the Study of Historic Houses and Estates Conference at NUI Maynooth, and urged the private owners of Irish historic houses to join together and found their own 'trade union'.
A further meeting was called at Castletown House, which was kindly made available to us through the good offices of Dr. Terence Dooley of NUI Maynooth in September 2007.
This meeting agreed to establish an Irish owners' group, the Irish Historic Houses Association, with an interim committee under the direction of Susan Kellett, our current chairman.
The Department of the Environment welcomed this decision and, along with Dr. Dooley of NUI Maynooth, gave the embryo association every encouragement, with the result that the IHHA was finally incorporated as a company with charitable status in the summer of 2008.
Government departments and statutory bodies immediately welcomed the fact that they could engage and negotiate with a single body for the first time. In the intervening period the board has successfully built this very positive response into a series of close working relationships. These are already paying dividends and will be of immense benefit to all historic house owners in the future.
Further afield, the IHHA is a member of the Union of European Historic Houses Associations (UEHHA) which keeps us all abreast of the situation facing private owners elsewhere in Europe. UEHHA advice and support is invaluable in our negotiations with government and statutory bodies here in Ireland.