The Irish World Heritage Centre
The Irish World Heritage Centre was formed almost 30 years ago and has since established itself as a cornerstone of the Cheetham Hill community. In 2014, the centre was relocated to a new building in a £5m project partly funded by the Irish government. Complete with versatile conference rooms, educational suites and a large function area that regularly hosts live entertainment, the revamped centre is the perfect venue for all occasions – from business meetings to weddings and parties.
A brand new state of the art bar and Sunday carvery, and the promise of a 270-bed hotel and 11 football pitches in the not too distant future, mean that the centre has formed a community facility not just for the Irish residents of Cheetham Hill, but for the whole neighbourhood.The Irish World Heritage Centre now serves as a multi-cultural, multi-purpose hub for the diverse range of nationalities occupying the area and an educational centre for children from 25 different schools.
A History of the Irish World Heritage Centre
The Irish World Heritage Centre was officially launched by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Peter Barry, in 1985. The inspiration for this project came from a group of dedicated Irish people whose aim was to offer a comprehensive programme of cultural activities and to tell the story of Irish emigration worldwide.
The founding members of the centre identified a derelict site in Cheetham Hill, which was originally a British Legion Club, but was in need of much renovation. This work was completed with volunteer labour and the skills available within the Irish community.
For its time, the centre boasted up-market facilities, including a restaurant, large dance hall, bar and function rooms. Various classes and clubs were established all contributing to a busy weekly programme of Irish drama, dance, music, language classes, conferences, evening lectures, educational visits, theatre and live music – a legacy that remains in place to this day.
In 1996, an extension housing the shop and a travel centre was built and was officially opened by TD Enda Kenny, the Minister for Tourism and Trade.
Visitors to the Irish World Heritage Centre
The Irish World Heritage Centre has welcomed many politicians and heads of state, including Taoisigh John Bruton, Albert Reynolds and Bertie Aherne. Both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown visited during their time as prime minister.
The centre has also received Presidents Mary Robinson, Mary McAleese and the current president of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, as a minister for arts and culture. In total, the centre has been visited by over 20 Irish ministers for state.