Belfast’s Irish Language hub reveals its £1.9 million facelift
19 September 2011
Northern Ireland’s longest established Irish language centre, Cultúrlann McAdam ó Fiaich was honoured today (Monday 19th September) as President of Ireland, Mary McAleese officially re-opened its £1.9 million refurbishment and extension on the Falls Road, Belfast.
Over the last 20 years, Cultúrlann McAdam ó Fiaich has played a pivotal role in providing local and international audiences with access to the Irish language whilst offering an eclectic mix of classes, workshops, performances and exhibitions in many art forms.
The ambitious capital building project which took 11 months to complete, received 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).
The new multifunctional centre, provides an inviting space to everyone with an interest in Irish Culture and arts, boasts a ground floor which hosts the Gerard Dillon Gallery; an interpretive space that charts the history and development of the Irish language in Belfast; and an enhanced workspace to complement the variety of activities that take place at this diverse centre.
Culture Minister, Carál Ní Chuilín said: “I welcome the opportunity to be here today for the official opening of Cultúrlann McAdam ó Fiaich. My Department, Culture Arts and Leisure, has invested over £500,000 towards redevelopment of Cultúrlann and it is fitting that in this, the 20th anniversary year, we are unveiling this new extension and refurbishment to this beautiful and historic building.
“I recently launched the Líofa 2015 initiative with the aim of encouraging 1000 people across the north to sign up to being fluent Irish speakers by 2015. The value and importance of the Irish Language should not be underestimated as it contributes significantly to cultural life in Ireland, north and south and it also generates economic benefits through its role in promoting cultural tourism. Investment in the Irish Language can also lead to job creation and this is particularly evident here in Cultúrlann.” In conclusion the Minister congratulated everyone involved in the project.
She said: “This is a fantastic facility for the promotion of the Irish Language and I have no doubt that it will go from strength to strength.”
Rosemary Kelly OBE, Chairman, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said, “As funders of Cultúrlann McAdam ó Fiaich, we are proud to have invested £308,508 to support this stunning extended multi-purpose facility. Our investment goes further than supporting local arts, essential as that is; it’s also about integrating the arts into people’s everyday lives in centres such as these which provide residents and community groups, as well as visitors, access to the best of our own home-grown talent. The Arts Council has a long history of investing in the arts through the medium of the Irish language and I have no doubt that this wonderful centre will continue to be a hub for the Irish language and nurture that creativity.”
Denis Rooney CBE, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland, which contributed £516,000 to the Project, said: “The restoration and extension of the Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich building has created a significant landmark in West Belfast which will act as a focal point for cultural and cross-community activity in the area.
“Providing modern community space where local residents can come together and meet in a welcoming environment is vital if we are to encourage contact and dialogue between the two communities.
“The International Fund for Ireland is pleased to have supported projects like Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich which will continue to have a positive and lasting impact long after the Fund ceases to exist.”
Howard Hastings, Chairman of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, said, “The Northern Ireland Tourist Board is pleased to have provided financial assistance to Cultúrlann McAdam ó Fiaich through the Tourism Development Scheme, which helps local tourism projects improve their tourism offering and provide a high quality visitor experience. The refurbishment and extension of Cultúrlann will enable the local community and tourists to uncover the story of the history and culture of the Irish language and embark on a cultural tourism learning adventure”
Will Haire, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Social Development, said; "I am pleased that DSD's Modernisation Fund Capital Programme was able to support this project. Through the Fund we aim to help voluntary and community organisations become more sustainable and deliver new and better services for the people and communities they serve. The new An Chultúrlann will become an even more important part of the life of this area and further afield."
Gearóid Ó Cairealláin, Chairman of Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich said, “We are proud of the contribution Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich has made in promoting Irish language and culture in Belfast and in Ireland. This great new space completed as we celebrate 20 years of existence will insure that the creativity and innovation that characterises this centre will continue into the future and we are very grateful to DCAL, IFI, ACNI, NITB, DSD for helping make this happen.”
To celebrate its re-opening and mark its 20th anniversary, the centre is hosting a week-long festival of classes, workshops, performances and exhibitions for all generations ranging from live traditional and contemporary music sessions to poetry readings and céilís. A retrospective exhibition of works by Gerard Dillon and The SOMA Band, featuring John McSherry are also lined up to mark the occasion.
For further information on the new An Chultúrlann Irish Language Centre and for full programme details log on to www.culturlann.ie