Minister for State for Overseas Aid Deputy Michael Kitt officially opened the refurbished servants quarters and northern courtyards at Strokestown Park House yesterday (Wednesday). The development has seen the transformation of the old buildings into 6 three bedroom and 7 two bedroom units that will be rented out to people to live in and for academic purposes. In attendance at the official opening were Minister Kitt, Deputies Michael Finneran and Frank Feighan, County Manager Mr. John Tiernan, Mayor of the council Cllr. John Kelly, Chairman of the Westward Group Mr. Jim Callery, councillors and community leaders. Mr. Jim Callery said that he was proud to be associated with the venture. He especially welcomed three members of the Packenham-Mahon family (who were the previous owners of Strokestown Park House) who were in attendance at yesterday’s opening. ‘I am in Strokestown for fifty years, they are here for three hundred and fifty years’ said Mr. Callery. Mr. Callery said that it would be great to see people living in the old servants quarters again. ‘I would also love to see this place being used for academic purposes and for the study of history. The history of the house should lend itself to that, which would be great. This is the fifth opening that we have had here at the house and I never thought that we would get even this far’ he said. Mr. Callery paid tribute to the engineers and architects who were responsible for the job. ‘It was no easy feat to do what they did and it’s a magnificent job. I am delighted that we have come even this far and it’s a great honour to have Minister Kitt here today to open the development’ he concluded. Mr. Declan Jones who is the Property Manager for The Westward Group also paid tribute to the chief architect Jane Meade, to the engineers John McGrath and Natalie Doyle and to the builders Kilcawley Construction Sligo who he said ‘did a great job given the constraints that the building itself imposed on us. Since we first looked at this project in 2004 there has been a lot of hard work put in and we are very happy at the way it has turned out’. Minister Michael Kitt said that it was a great honour for him to be present at the opening of the development at such a historic site. ‘The people at Westward and Jim Callery in particular deserve the highest praise for what they have achieved here’ he said. ‘Everyone knows that Strokestown Park House is well-known for its famous famine museum and in my own job as Overseas Aid Minister I recognise just how important the recognition of the hunger of people is in the world. We suffered here in this country and now there are many other countries suffering the same plight’ he continued. ‘It will be a big advantage for the study of our history in this country to have accommodation for people who are doing projects or are studying the famine period in particular. The work that has been done on Strokestown Park House is a credit to everyone involved and it’s a great honour to be here today to open the latest phase of its developmnent’ he concluded.