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Historic Bank Garden to be auctioned


Westport Civic Trust is appealing to the public for funds to save site

Áine Ryan

WITH a reserve price of €500,000, Westport’s old Bank of Ireland garden is set to be auctioned next Friday for double the price its vendors were asking before it was withdrawn from sale less than two years ago. Galway auctioneers O’Donnellan and Joyce will auction the 1.1 acre site on Friday next, July 19. In receivership for some time, the site includes a listed building in a state of dereliction.
Westport Civic Trust has campaigned for two decades for the site to be saved as an amenity for the town. It has now appealed for the public to urgently donate to its ongoing fundraising efforts towards purchasing the historic site, once attached to a Dower House owned by the Browne family of Westport House.
Trust member Iris Galloway explained to The Mayo News that ‘notice of the auction was quite sudden and has left us severely short of time to fundraise’. “The Trust has been working tirelessly, night and day, on the town’s behalf to try to secure funding in order to acquire this wonderful space for the people of Westport, as a town amenity, but we need the community to help us get this off the ground by supporting us and donating to our Heritage Garden Fund,” she said.
She explained that the trust ‘has been trying to get the council and Government to support the project, and is waiting to learn whether they are willing to help Westport obtain the property as a community garden and landmark heritage legacy for this town, which currently has no central communal space, such as a town park or garden’.
In November 2017, when the property was first listed for auction, The Mayo News reported that ‘the county council [had] a genuine interest in acquiring the property but [was] challenged by the fact that its funds were depleted’.
The trust has proposed a plan for the garden that could ‘provide jobs and courses in restoration, horticulture and maintenance, not to mention support of small arts and crafts enterprises and local growers and producers’.
The trust members stress the fact that ‘the property is derelict’ and comes with ‘many restrictions’, since the property is listed on the Record of Protected Structures in the Westport Town and Environs Development Plan. In addition, the trust says, the council has issued an extensive list of required remedial works to be undertaken by the new owner of the property, with immediate effect.
Anyone interested in donating to the Westport Civic Trust’s Heritage Garden Fund, can do so by loding money to BIC/Swift code: AIBKIE2D, IBAN: IE72 AIBK 9371 6918 6002 88. Westport Civic Trust is a registered charity.
“If we are unsuccessful in securing the bid at the auction, donations will be refunded where possible, but you need to make sure to include your name and contact details in your instructions to AIB when you donate,” explained Ms Galloway.
“An alternative is to pledge an amount to the Trust, which we can call upon you to collect if we are successful at securing the bid. Please note though, that we will only have a window of two weeks post-bid in which to call these in. You can email your pledge to our email address, Please make sure you include your name and phone number and/or email address. Alternatively, you can text PLEDGE, followed by the donation amount and your name, to 087 2166517.”

Westport’s Bank Garden will be for sale by public auction this Friday at 12 noon in the Harbour Hotel, New Dock Road, Galway. Auctioneers O’Donnellan and Joyce describe the lot as encompassing ‘a derelict commercial building located in the heart of Westport Town’ in need of ‘significant refurbishment throughout’ and ‘with a large yard the rear of the building’. They say ‘the property would be an ideal investment for re-development subject to [planning permission] due to its prominent location’.