Funding to the tune of £750,000 has been awarded for the new Irish language centre in Armagh.
The money has been granted by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure towards the cost of the £1.5 million Culturlann on the site of the former fire station at the Shambles.
Planning approval was given for the new centre, which is being constructed by Aonach Mhacha, in July.
And just this month the final hurdle in the long-awaited city centre development was passed when Environment Minister Mark H Durkan granted approval for the demolition of the old fire station to make way for the state-of-the-art facility.
The Minister said the development has the potential to rejuvenate a historic part of Armagh city.
It includes incubation hubs for social enterprises, office accommodation, a cafe, gift shop, teaching units, meeting rooms, multi-purpose area for performance/dance, media suite and art gallery and exhibition space.
Sinn Fein Armagh MLA Cathal Boylan has welcomed news that the Aonach Mhacha project has received £750,000 in funding.
He said it wasn’t just good news for Irish speakers but the city as a whole.
“This is tremendous news for Armagh and something that we in Sinn Féin have been lobbying for for years now,” he said.
“While this will obviously provide a welcome boost to the Irish language and Irish speakers in the city and the surrounding area, this is good news for Armagh as a whole.
“This project will form a key part of plans to regenerate the area and will bring a whole new vitality to the city centre.
“In a city known for its culture and history, a development like Aonach Mhacha can only add to our image and reputation.
“My congratulations to all those who worked so hard to get this funding and I look forward to working with them in the New Year to make the long awaited Aonach Mhacha project a reality.
“Comhghairdeas agus Nollaig Shona.”
Minister Durkan, speaking at the start of December, said the site was identified for redevelopment in the Armagh City Masterplan and it will enhance the Conservation Area in which the building is located.
“This is an exciting development for Armagh City and in particular those involved in the promotion of Irish language, song, dance and drama,” he commented.
“The present building is an eyesore and I know the local community and businesses are keen to see this development commence as soon as possible. I hope this decision will pave the way for the release of the necessary funding to make this project a reality.”