2008 World Monuments Watch
Vernon Mount, a Neoclassical suburban villa in Ireland, is arguably the finest example of this building form to survive in the country, where politically motivated destruction of country houses was once commonplace. Its decorative interiors include exceptional neoclassical mythological paintings by the late-eighteenth-century artist Nathaniel Grogan, an accomplished painter who studied under John Butts, and was a contemporary of the internationally famous Cork artist James Barry. The building was originally beautifully sited on a hillside, and commanded spectacular views over the city of Cork and the picturesque estuary of the River Lee. Lack of maintenance is the main threat to the site, and is leading to considerable deterioration of the house. There is a significant hole in the roof, slates are slipping, and many windows are broken. Anachronistic modifications have altered the site, and later decorative painting inside has diminished the interior's distinctive character. The future long-term use of the site is in question. Vernon Mount is used occasionally by its current tenants, a local motorcross club. The owners of the house say that the cost of restoring it would necessitate the development of its surrounding lands to provide revenue. However, the Cork County Development Plan dictates that these areas are not zoned for development. If this stalemate is not resolved, the house will continue to deteriorate.
Since the Watch
Following the 2008 Watch, roof repairs were carried out by the Cork County Council with funding from Ireland’s Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. In September 2014, the Department announced an additional €22,500 in conservation funding for Vernon Mount, which remained in private ownership. Meanwhile, the proposed construction of a new public park across the South Link Road from Vernon Mount was perceived as an opportunity to revitalize this historic site’s context. Unfortunately, in July 2016 the historic house was extensively damaged by a suspicious fire.