The new £2 million Irish language and cultural arts centre in the Shambles area is well on course to open in September 2019.
And the state-of-the-art centre is already generating significant attention here at home and internationally.
When completed, the largest ever community-led regeneration project in Armagh City, known as Aonach Mhacha, will create 12 new jobs in the Irish language sector and result in over 100 new jobs during the capital construction phase.
Those behind the development say such significant inward investment at a time of economic uncertainty and anxiety is a welcome boost to the local economy.
With construction progressing rapidly, directors of the project have begun to focus their sights on the official opening and on the cultural and community development role that the centre will play in the coming months and years.
A number of Irish language organisations will base their offices in the new centre including CAIRDE Teo; Gael Linn; Macha Media, SEACHT, Clann Mhacha, Cultúr and Armagh Rhymers.
The centre will also include a café and shop, classrooms, a nursery, a media suite, incubation units for new cultural enterprises, offices, exhibition space and a small theatre and performance space which will meet the needs of the Irish language community.
Director and Project Sponsor with Aonach Mhacha, Gearóid Ó Machail, told Armagh I: “We have been inundated in recent weeks with requests from groups and individuals to view progress on the construction of the cultural centre and to hear more about the cultural and linguistic product that will be on offer therein.
“Many of the groups who have visited and contacted us are eager to hire and use the space within the new building, which is very encouraging to the volunteers and committee leading the project.
“It was a great honour to recently host a delegation from the Ulster Council of the GAA, led by Brian McAvoy, Rúnaí and Chief Executive, Diarmaid Marsden, Community Development Officer and Tricia Ní Chearra, Irish Language Development Officer with Comhairle Uladh.
“Aonach Mhacha recognises Ulster GAA as one of our leading partners in developing Irish language and cultural services for the entire community across Armagh City and the surrounding area. We look forward to building a strong relationship between Aonach Mhacha and Ireland’s leading sporting and cultural organisation and to hosting GAA conferences, meetings and events in our new Irish language hub.”
Ulster GAA in conjunction with Foras na Gaeilge have recently appointed the organisation’s first Irish Language Officer.
Tricia Ní Chearra, a member of the Glenn John Martin’s club in County Down, has taken up a position within the Community Development Department of Ulster GAA.
Speaking about the new role, head of the Community Development Department, Diarmaid Marsden said: “We are delighted to welcome Tricia Ní Chearra as Irish Language Officer for Ulster GAA. A key focus of her role will be the promotion of Irish Language and culture, at grassroots level, across the counties and clubs in the province.
“We now have a provincial point of contact for advice on how to promote and grow the language, and we hope that over the next few years partnerships will be created between counties, clubs, local authorities, Irish Language organisations and the education sector.”