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The Great House Revival – Belvelly Castle

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THE GREAT HOUSE REVIVAL is back for a special episode this Sunday the 14th of April at 9.35pm on RTE ONE

Belvelly Tower House, Cobh, Co Cork.
DATES FROM: 16th Century
BUDGET: Total spend is estimated to be approx 5 million.

Belfast born Garry and Anne Wilson have lived and worked in the UK all of their adult lives. They have always wanted a base in Ireland and in 2016 they were in the market for a restoration project and came across Belvelly Tower House in Cobh Co Cork.

When they bought the tower it was a ruin with ivy covered walls, it even had a tree growing out of the top of the tower. The Tower itself hasn’t been lived in for nearly 400 years and was at the point of no return when Garry and Anne chose to invest their savings in order to bring it back to life.

“We both grew up in Belfast in the 70s and 80s, Belfast was a dark place back in those times, there weren’t the opportunities for our generation so we had to move over to England, but we want to keep a connection to Ireland, we are not very far away, we have still got lots of family who live here, and this will give us a base back on the island.” Garry Wilson

The programme documents the team of stonemasons and engineers as they deal with the rainsoaked Tower House. The biggest challenge facing them is to halt the rot, keep water out and seal it from the elements. The team work incredibly hard to stabilize the walls and fix the cracks that threaten to take the entire tower down. Tower Houses are notoriously difficult to restore and Belvelly is no different:

“I have to admire Garry and Ann for taking on such an unknown entity, there is no way of accurately budgeting for a project like this because you will be hit time after time with surprises. They have chosen to save a national monument, but at what personal cost, and will they feel it was worth it in the end?” Hugh Wallace.

With the help of Garry’s uncle and lead engineer, John Montgomery and his team they attempt to secure the crumbling walls and to seal and heat the tower. Designer and architect Peter Plaskitt is tasked with creating a contemporary and comfortable place to live in this dark, cold tower.

This is by far the biggest challenge we have seen in The Great House Revival. Can determination, ingenuity and sheer grit enable the family and the team of expert builders, to create a comfortable 21st Century home in these ancient walls?

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