Gaeláras to work with former Presbyterian congregation on plans

The old Third Derry Church in Great James' Street.
The old Third Derry Church in Great James' Street.

The staff of An Cultúrlann have been in touch with the Presbyterian congregation in Kilfennan regarding its plans to develop a musical academy in the former Third Derry Church in Great James’ Street.

Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin Chief Executive Gearóid Ó hEára said the Irish language organisation is hoping to build links with the old building’s erstwhile residents as it’s refurbished over coming months.

“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.”

The Church, also known as the Scotch Church, operated from 1837 until the congregation moved to Kilfennan in 1982.

Plans are now afoot to rework the old building into a space for artists in the basement, a performance space in the church itself and an academy of traditional music in the manse.

Mr Ó hEára added: “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.”

Mr Ó hEára explained that when An Gaeláras moved across the road into the Cultúrlann back in September 2009 he believed it would have enough classroom and performance space for many years.

But within the first twelve months the demand for classes had exceeded the available space.

“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.”

He said that the group will be working with Derry City Council, the North West Development Office and the Arts Council to develop the building and its activities to their maximum potential.

He particularly thanked the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and Ciste Infhestíochta Ghaeilge who had contributed towards the purchase.

He said that the future development of Irish language and culture in Derry and the North West would be secured for generations to come.

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