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The restoration work on Bunratty Castle was finally completed in 1959. A management agreement was set up so that the newly incorporated Shannon Development Company would manage the Castle on behalf of Lord Gort's newly appointed Trustees, John Hunt and Desmond J O'Malley. At this time, the prospect of Bunratty opening to the public as a museum was imminent and Lord Gort was becoming increasingly concerned as to the long term future and in particular that of its contents. In this regard he and Lady Gort had suggested appointing a group of people who would be responsible for the care and maintenance of the furniture and to add to it or sell items as appropriate. This group of people became known as the Gort Furniture Trust. It was to be widely representative with Gort's solicitor, Colonel Gillman as a permanent member, nominees of both Bord Failte and Shannon Development and in due course, certain individuals in their own right. It was set up to meet once a year and examine all furniture and artefacts item by item.
Today the Gort Furniture Trust continue to actively look after the furniture and artifacts collection in Bunratty Castle. The Trust is Chaired by Dr Peter Harbinson, an appointee of Bord Failte and long time enthusiast of Bunratty and the collection. The secretary of the Trust, J C Lynch was an original appointee of Shannon Development when the Trust was formed and on retirement went on to become a trustee in his own right and continues to be actively involved in all aspects of conservation of the collection. Other current members of the Trust include Dr Brendan O Regan, Colonel Gillman's son, Anthony appointed by his father, Tom Sheedy, originally representing Shannon Development and now a member in his own right, and John King, currently representing Shannon Development.
The Trust meet twice a year and examine the full collection on each meeting. They organize and manage a programme of conservation of the collection which at present involves a major project to conserve the tapestries and a phased programme to protect the paintings.
The Trust has very limited funding available and with such an important collection would welcome any ideas or donations anyone would like to make. The trust can be contacted via the following E mail address email@example.com.
Dr Peter Harbinson
Gort Furniture Trust