HIGH profile VIPS and special guests will be treated to a preview and tour of Northern Ireland’s newest arts and heritage attraction: Hill of The O’Neill & Ranfurly House Arts & Visitor Centre at the official on Wednesday.
Around 90 guests will attend the official opening that will also include a chaired panel discussion in the new Ranfurly House black box theatre and lecture space the ‘Square Box’.
The discussion is to be chaired by Radio Ulster broadcaster and local citizen Lynette Fay and will explore how arts and heritage have become important economic generators. Panel members include Bob Collins, Chairman of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Paul Mullan, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund, Ashleigh Craig, Economist, Oxford Economics and successful local actor Conor Grimes.
Northern Ireland’s newest arts centre and tourist attraction will very much be a collaboration between arts and heritage. Situated at the top of Dungannon town
it incorporates one of Ireland and Europe’s most important historic locations. Formerly known as Castle Hill, this ‘Dún’ (from Irish meaning Fortified Place) gives the town its name Dún Geanainn translated Geanainn’s Stronghold.
Later in the fourteenth century it became the stronghold for one of the most powerful clans in Irish and European history, the famous O’Neill Dynasty, who ruled Ulster and at times much of Ireland from this hill that commands stunning views of at least seven of Ulster’s Counties – though some say they are able to see all nine of the Ulster counties from the hill!
In 2003, after more than a thousand years of private and military occupation Dungannon & South Tyrone Council took possession of the hill and with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, have transformed it and the adjoining former Belfast Bank Building into a stunning new £5.5 million arts and visitor location.
Continued on page 2