The Irish World Heritage Centre
The Irish World Heritage Centre is modern and accessible conference and events venue based in Manchester and is a major hub for the Irish community in the northwest of England with a diverse programme of traditional cultural activities covering Irish music, dance and Irish language groups.
The Irish World Heritage Centre showcases a unique bar which has panoramic views of Manchester city centre and opens out onto a large garden which is enclosed by an Iron-Age Celtic fort style wall.
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.