A gift bestowed upon the town of Carlow by writer George Bernard Shaw is in a financial limbo.
George Bernard Shaw's relatives on his mother's side, the Gurly's came from Carlow and owned a lot of property in the town. Upon their death, the properties were passed on to Shaw. As a gesture of goodwill, Shaw donated a building on Dublin Street to the town in 1919.
In 1944 Shaw made a further bequest to the town handing over ownership of his remaining seventeen properties to the town. The annual rents from the properties were transferred to a civic improvement fund to support local cultural groups.
Despite his generosity to the town, Shaw new very little about Carlow having only ever visited for a day and a night in 1910. On this visit, he took a look at his properties and never returned.
George Bernard Shaw's generosity to the town extended beyond property. He made a very generous donation to the Carlow Christian Brothers Schools when they were built in 1936, and also gave to Sister Agnes in the County Home on a regular basis. He also came to the financial aid of his step-aunt Charlotte Rogers providing funding for slating of a new roof and a new set of dentures.
When Shaw left his trust to Carlow, he inserted a specific clause preventing the fund from being used to subsidise the local rates. The Arts Act of 1973 enabled the local authorities to use the rates to subsidise the arts which has resulted in legal problems for Shaw's fund. The fund has remained frozen in a Carlow bank vault gathering interest ever since and funding for projects for which it was intended has stopped. The only use that has been made of the fund in recent years is to pay for the town crib.
This report features spokesmen from Carlow County Council and Carlow Heritage Society.
This episode of 'Evening Extra' was broadcast on 13 January 1988. The reporter is Vincent Wall.