Derry’s Irish language and cultural hub, Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin, has expanded its premises by buying the former presbyterian church and manse in Great James’ Street.
The historic building, which operated as a church from 1837 until 1982, will be used as a concert venue and performance space while the manse, when refurbished, will become an academy of traditional music.
The chief executive of Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin, Gearóid Ó hEára, said the additional space would help the growth and development of the Irish language in the city and provide a lasting legacy to the historic Fleadh Cheoil na hÉierann, which bought 430,000 visitors to the city in August last year.
Mr Ó hEára said the expanded Cultúrlann complex would become the city’s newest cultural quarter. “The idea of a cultural quarter based in Great James Street is fast becoming a reality and I am pleased that we will be able to restore two listed buildings and bring them into cultural use.”
“Some of our staff have been in touch with members of the Presbyterian Congregation in Kilfennan and we would hope to build links with them and make them welcome if they wish to visit the church,” he said.
He also said the purchase of the two buildings would allow An Chultúrlann to expand its services. “It is our intention, to locate an Acadamh Ceoil, a traditional Music Academy, in the refurbished manse and to free up more space in the Cultúrlann for additional Irish classes. Our plans include the development of a programme of festivals through the year and the church will be central to that.
“The acquisition of the church and manse will allow us the space to increase the range and numbers of classes and courses and will create for artists, performance space and for our Irish language youth club Club Óige Setanta.”
Mr Ó hEára thanked all of those who had helped and supported the new initiative. He particularly thanked the NI Environment Agency and Ciste Infhestíochta Ghaeilge which had contributed towards the purchase
Foyle Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney congratulated An Chultúrlann on its expansion. “This is another ambitious initiative by Gearóid Ó hÉara and his team in An Chultúrlann. I have no doubt that this enterprising team will deliver on these plans with the same winning determination as they approached the original award winning project of Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin,” he said.