Appeal to save historic Lissan House

A campaign is underway to help one of Cookstown’s historic buildings, Lissan House, which is struggling financially due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

David Graham who is preparing to run 100 mile to raise funds for Lissan House and Sharon Loughrin, Board member at Lissan.

The house and estate, which was home to the Staples family from 1620, was gifted to the local community following the death of the last incumbent, Hazel Radclyffe-Dolling (née Staples).

Since 2007 Lissan House has been run by a dedicated charitable trust, which has to meet all its running costs through fund raising events organised by volunteers.

Board member, Sharon Loughrin, explained: “We can’t avail of any Government emergency grants and can’t have fund raising events, weddings, tours or anything else to bring in money, but our running costs still have to be paid.”

During the current lockdown people from Cookstown and the surrounding area have been using the estate grounds for walking and enjoying the good weather.

At the weekend many turned out in response to its financial crisis and kindly made donations.

Ms Loughrin said it was the first time that they have appealed to local people for support and were quite pleasantly surprised at the turnout.

Despite being a popular tourist attraction and beauty spot with 400 years of local and national history, the property gets no funding from any authority, including Mid Ulster District Council.

She explained that they made an appeal to the council towards the end of last year to see if they would help them cover the cost of insurance, approximately £800 per month, but they had no money to give.

“It was getting to a stage towards the end of last year that it wasn’t really looking good but we managed to get ourselves pulled out and trimmed back costs,” she continued.

And then Covid-19 struck, causing the closure of the house.

Local hairdresser and runner, David Graham, who regularly trains in the estate, has decided to run 100 miles around the grounds to raise funds.

He is going to run a five mile lap of the estate 20 times, beginning this Friday and running through the night to complete the distance and, hopefully, raise £1,000 plus for Lissan House.

David is already well on his way to reach his £1,000 target on his gofundme page ‘Lissan House 100 Mile Fund Run’.

Ms Loughrin said a lot of people now realised that while it’s free to use the grounds, it actually costs money to keep the property and estate going and preserve 400 years of history.

She stressed that all donations would go towards the upkeep of the property and added the trust had plans to do work on the outbuildings.

“The house is fairly well preserved and water tight but the roofs on its outbuildings are falling in,” she added.

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