Belfast’s Irish language community to benefit from new facilities at An Chulturlann
With support from public funding, building has commenced at An Chulturlann premises in the heart of Belfast's Irish language community. Local people and tourists alike, are set to benefit from a range of new services and facilities thanks to the refurbishment and extension of the centre.
It is an exciting time for An Chultúrlann, which is preparing to celebrate its 20th anniversary next year. The new premises will be completed in July 2011, in time for the anniversary celebrations.
Once completed, the new building will provide an exciting multifunctional centre with a ground floor visual arts space, an interpretative space that will chart the history and development of Irish language in Belfast, and an enhanced workspace to complement the variety of activities that take place at this eclectic centre.
Gearóid ó Caireallainn, Chairman, Cultúrlann McAdam ó Fiaich said: "The refurbished Cultúrlann McAdam ó Fiaich will be the landmark building on the Falls Road and, as the gateway to the Gaeltacht quarter will revitalise the whole of West Belfast. It will also serve as a beacon towards the development of the Irish language throughout Ireland, with all due credit going to the funding bodies that made this exciting venture possible."
The capital building project receives funding from a range of partners including the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL); International Fund for Ireland (IFI) ; Arts Council of Northern Ireland; Northern Ireland Tourist Board; and Department for Social Development (DSD).
Permanent Secretary of the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, Rosalie Flanagan, said: "The refurbishment and extension of Culturlann McAdam ó Fiaich will provide a first class facility for the development of Irish language and culture in Belfast. I look forward to visiting the new premises in the summer of 2011 when it is completed."
Denis Rooney CBE, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland, said: "The International Fund for Ireland has contributed £516,000 towards the extension and renovation of the Culturlann McAdam O'Fiaich (Irish Language Arts and Culture Centre). Providing support for initiatives that will have a lasting positive impact on peace building and reconciliation long after the Fund ceases to exist is one of our key priorities. This multi-purpose arts centre provides a shared space which will encourage communities to come together and celebrate their respective cultures while appreciating diversity."
Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: "As funders of An Chultúrlann, the Arts Council is pleased to see work commence on the extension and keenly anticipates the opening of the new premises in June 2011. The Arts Council's sustained approach to regeneration is providing residents and community groups with the means to enjoy the facilities within their community, creating new spaces in which they can take considerable civic pride."
Alan Clarke, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, said: "Once complete Cultúrlann McAdam ó Fiaich will help tourists uncover the stories of the history and culture of West Belfast. As a recent winner of the visitor information category at NITB's tourism awards, the iconic new building will provide a hub to welcome and inform visitors coming into the area and will be an important base from which they can explore more of the city and Northern Ireland. I am delighted that the Northern Ireland Tourist Board has contributed £300,000 to the Culturlann project through the Tourism Development Scheme."
Social Development Minister, Alex Attwood, said: "I am delighted that my Department is contributing to the development and growth of Culturlann and the Gaeltacht Quarter Strategy. With the diversity of cultures now sharing our community it is important that we add to the richness in our society by supporting local culture and keeping the local community at the heart of the process."
While the building work is taking place, it will be business as usual at An Chultúrlann. The full arts programme will continue to run and the cafe, bookshop and tourist information will operate opening hours as normal.