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Tuesday 1 June 2004

Armagh’s Tubular Bells ring out as Market House reopens
NEW life has been injected into the centre of Armagh following the completion of a £1m scheme on a 200 year-old building in Market Street.
Facilitated by the Southern Education and Library Board (SELB), the refurbished and new library provision and a multi-media Creative Learning Centre in the historic Market House will meet the demands of the digital age.
On Tuesday, June 1, 2004, Dr Aideen McGinley, Permanent Secretary at the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL), officially declared the refurbished building open.
 

Dr McGinley, said: “This is an excellent example of a facility which uses the latest computer technology to offer both an educational and a creative learning resource. By combining a modern library service with multi-media facilities, it will serve everyone in the local community and encourage local creativity to flourish.
“The centre also typifies what Cultural Capital is all about - people, infrastructure, products and services. It adds richness to our lives and also ensures that this wonderful building, a legacy from the past, is restored to build our creative future. I congratulate all the partners involved in this exciting initiative and I wish it every success in the future.”
The SELB’s Architects’ Department oversaw the Market House project with DCAL being a major funder.
A performance developed from the original Tubular Bells, aided by Tom Newman - producer of the best-selling album of the same name - was staged to mark the occasion at which Mr Newman was present. Mr Newman has been a mentor for the AmmA (Armagh multi media Access) project and has worked with pupils and musicians across the SELB area in the Tubular Bells CD project.
Armagh City Library boasts bright new facilities on the ground floor and part of the first floor of the Market House where the community will be able to avail of the latest internet-linked computer technology as part of the People’s Network. Refurbishment work ranged from stripping back panelling to reveal the original stonework of 1815 to the provision of facilities for people with disabilities, including a lift.
The SELB’s Youth Service will make use of the Youth Point on the first floor.
The top storey is home to the AmmA Creative Learning Centre incorporating a state-of-the-art recording studio and a digital studio, a gallery, art workspace and film and editing studio. These facilities are enabling people of all ages to develop their creative talents as was demonstrated by the performance and presentations of music and film at the opening event.
Speaking at the event, SELB chairman Mrs Moira Alexander paid tribute to DCAL and the various funders who supported the Market House project.
Mrs Alexander said she welcomed the financial support for the AmmA project from Armagh City and District Council through the Department for Social Development (DSD) Peace II, Measure 2.11 Town Centre Reinvigoration Programme.
Mrs Alexander said: “The inscription in Latin on the outside of this beautiful building translates as ‘The gift of William Archbishop of Armagh for the use of the citizens 1815’. Over the past two centuries the community has used this building for a variety of purposes. As a result of this refurbishment we look forward to the Market House being a centre for people of all ages to develop their creativity in this new century.
“I pay tribute to the Board officers who have been involved in this project, from the ideas for the Market House were first suggested through to the completion of the scheme which we are celebrating today.”
DSD Deputy Secretary Mr John McGrath, who attended the event said: “I am delighted to have the opportunity to see the wonderful restoration scheme that has brought the Market House into the 21st century.”
Mr McGrath said DSD was pleased to have been able to assist with funding for the AmmA project.
Also attending the event were Councillor Mrs Pat O’Rawe, Mayor of Armagh City and District Council, and Mr Victor Brownlees, Clerk and Chief Executive of the council.
Mrs O’Rawe said: “The Council is delighted to be working in partnership with the SELB to bring new life into the centre of this historic city.
“The facilities in the refurbished library along with the AmmA Creative Learning Centre will complement the activities going on in the neighbouring council facility – the Market Place Theatre.”

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