Military museum threatened by soaring insurance costs

The founder of the Collon Military Museum, William Sullivan, says he is heartbroken at the thought of having to close his beloved museum due to soaring insurance costs and tariffs.

illiam Sullivan shares with the public his wide range of military memorabilia, which he has lovingly collected for nearly 50 years, at his museum in Starinagh.

But with annual insurance now at €28,000 and municipal rates of, he says, €1,000 a month, William feels he can’t stay open any longer.

“I get a lot of sleepless nights now, when I go down to the museum and look around and say, ‘I’ve let you guys down,'” says William, whose museum draws 15,000 visitors a year to the Valley of the River. Boyne: “I barely take a paycheck myself. for that – it’s purely a passion of mine to make history interesting for people – but I love doing it, and I can’t bear to think I’ll have to shut it down.

When William opened it eight years ago, his insurance was €6,500 a year, and it has increased steadily over the past few years, and is now almost five times that.

“It’s quite a deal breaker, but on top of that I have to pay commercial rates to Meath County Council, even though museums are exempt from tariffs,” he says. “They listed me as a warehouse and not a museum, which is killing me, because it’s a big attraction for the area.

Local Aontu representative Peter Whelan made representations on behalf of William and the museum.

“The War Museum was granted planning permission in 2012 as a museum by Meath County Council, and received a grant of €200,000 (public funds) from the Meath Partnership in 2013 for a War Museum military,” he said. “It has been listed along with many other non-profit organizations and businesses in the Meath area, at award ceremonies hosted by Meath County Council and others, so I have written a letter to Meath County Council requesting a meeting with the council’s chief executive and asking them to explain this anomaly.

“I have had hundreds of people contact me in support of William and his museum. I hope the council can correct this anomaly and I will also ask them to reimburse William and his company with the rates that were taken.”

In response, Meath County Council said:

“The Valuation Office has classified the property as a warehouse for valuation purposes. Any issues with this should be referred to them, they are the statutory body providing valuation services for the State,” said a spokesperson. “Meath County Council deals with all businesses in terms of the type of business engaged, not the categorization of property given by the Assessment Office. This can be shown more recently in relation to recent schemes commercial rate waivers, restart grants, and SBASCs. Many different types of businesses operate out of warehouse/storage type facilities, gyms, cafes, etc. and are treated on that basis.”

William says he has received offers from the public regarding Go Fund Me pages or fundraising campaigns, but he urges people not to.

“I’m very grateful, but it’s a long-term plan that I need, not a quick fix,” he says. “I need a miracle but miracles happen, and I’ve had 46 years of pure pleasure, and it’s been hard. I’ve met the best people and had the best time of my life, so if it ends, so be it.

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