Ireland’s only dedicated war museum is set to close its doors for the final time this weekend after a fruitless and lengthy battle with Meath Council Council over rates payments.
Museums do not have pay rates but the council have declared the premises, at Starinagh outside Slane on the Collon road, is not a museum at all rather it is a storage unit for owner William Sullivan’s lifelong collection of war memorabilia.
That despite the council itself granting Sullivan planning permission for a museum when the project began eight years ago.
He also received a grant from Meath Partnership at the very start which stipulated it was for use in a museum,
A frustrated William told Meath Live, ‘It costs us €227 per day in insurance, and now with the claim from rates on top we’re finished altogether.
‘It seems that when we started we were a museum but now the council want money off us we are not a museum, as they say in America ‘go figure’!
‘We haven’t made a penny on this it has been a labour of love from the start and it has apart from that grant been funded solely by me and to be honest there were times in the early years when I felt like closing the doors but we turned the corner in 2019 and felt we were heading into our first break-even situation in 202 when Covid hit.
‘We are unique among museums in Ireland in that visitors are allowed to handle the exhibits, they can lift up a machine gun from WW1 for instance, and feel how heavy it is to hold.
‘There is stuff here from the two world wars, the Napoleonic Wars, and loads of things from the War of Independence here and the Irish Civil war.
‘We are mainly a summer business and while the council have agreed we don’t have to pay rates when we are not open they insist we have to when we are, we have been fighting this for a long time now but getting nowhere.
‘I have been collecting war-related items for forty-six years, I started when I was eight and I don’t know whether I’ll sell it on or keep it, maybe the council would like me to donate it to what they would consider a real museum because they don’t think this is one anyway.’
Meath County Council has been contacted for comment