One of the country's best-known buildings, Powerscourt House in County Wicklow, is to re-open to the public for the first time since it was damaged by fire in 1974.

The fire started in the main dining room and fanned by high winds soon became out of control. Twenty-three years later and thanks to a £5 million development project funded through the sale of land, the house reopens.

There are now about 130 people working on the Powerscourt Estate, and a further 50 working in the shop and restaurant. A 200-seater terrace restaurant will open next week, along with 11 shops, a visitor centre, and of course, the gardens.  

Construction work has been going on since October 1996 but as Sarah Slazenger, Managing Director at Powerscourt put it, 

It will never be as it was before. What we've done is we've found a new use for the house and for the first time the general public will be able to go through the buildings and see the rooms and the scale of them.

Simon Pratt of Avoca Handweavers at the Powerscourt Shop hopes to see trade at the shop double or treble in the coming years.

President Mary Robinson will perform the official opening of the house on 17 July. 

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 14 July 1997. The reporter is Flor McCarthy.