Press Release – AHF Project Development Grant

An Gaeláras Ltd has received a Project Development Grant from the Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) to support the development phase of An tSeaneaglais, ‘The Old Church’.

Since 1976, the AHF has worked to promote the conservation and sustainable re-use of historic buildings for the benefit of communities across the UK, particularly in economically disadvantaged areas. It is the leading heritage social investor and only specialist heritage lender operating in the UK and offers advice, grants and loans to projects that have the potential to deliver substantial social and economic benefits.

An Gaeláras’ purchase of the former Great James Street Presbyterian Church in 2014 has secured the future of this landmark ‘At Risk’ Grade B+ listed building and this project will see it brought back into use as a vibrant arts and cultural venue with space for music, education, performance, and shared heritage. The history of the building as a Presbyterian church will also be celebrated.

Completed in 1837, the church was designed by noted architect, Stewart Gordon, and was one of the first buildings to be constructed during the Victorian ‘New Town’ expansion of the city; it is one of the finest examples of Georgian neoclassical style architecture in area. Previous grants from the AHF have assisted the organisation to purchase the building in the first instance, and to carry out essential structural surveys. The most recent award of a Project Development Grant will allow the organisation to commission specialist conservation and interpretive plans, which are instrumental to the future of the project and restoration of the church itself.

Commenting on the award Pauline Gardiner, An tSeaneaglais Project Development Officer, said “This seed funding comes at a crucial stage in our development phase. The AHF Project Development Grant will allow us to work with specialist conservation architects and interpretive planners to produce a number of essential documents that will help shape the future of the building and ensure its long term sustainability. We are extremely grateful to have the continued support of the Architectural Heritage Fund; their advice and guidance has been invaluable and we are very excited by the opportunities the development of An tSeaneaglais will provide for all sections of our community.”

Matthew Mckeague, CEO of the Architectural Heritage Fund, commented: ‘this is a highly significant but ‘at risk’ church and this project offers the opportunity to find a solution to its future through the creation of a major new cultural asset. We have been supporting the project for a number of years and the conservation and interpretation plans will be further essential building blocks in the project’s realisation.’