Wednesday, 28 March 2012
A DATE has been set for the official opening of the public park and heritage centre at Castle Hill by Dungannon Borough Council.
The Official Opening will of what will be known as the "Hill of the O'Neill and Ranfurly House Arts & Visitors Centre" is scheduled for the 28th September.
Work is progressing satisfactorily on the new £4.5million Arts and Heritage Centre and public park at Castle Hill.
The ambitious signature project will provide the people of Dungannon with a new state-of-the-art heritage and arts facility that will link in with an ambitious Public Realm scheme at Market Square in the town.
There's also a landscaping aspect to the work being carried out within the grounds of Ranfurly House and this new public park will form an integral part of the overall project.
The Arts and Heritage Centre scheme which is being partially funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (£2.3million) and the Arts Council for Northern Ireland (£0.5million) is due for contractual completion in July, with the Council now confirming the official opening date as 28th September.
Ranfurly House is a Grade B+ listed building while the site behind the building and garden is a scheduled Monument. The site also contains the remains of the Knox Hannyngton House in the form of two towers as well as the remains of the site of O'Neills castle.
The refurbishment of Ranfurly House will create a new facility which will house the Council's new visitor orientation experience for Castle Hill gardens and a new arts centre for the town.
The redevelopment scheme currently underway will accommodate the following elements:
* Galleries and exhibition space telling the story of Castle Hill and its association with the history of the O'Neills.
* An enclosed circulation route to take people from street level at Market Square to the level of Castle Hill gardens at the rear of Ranfurly House.
* Tourist information centre: expanded to provide greater orientation advice for the visitor to the town and the first point of contact for direction for interpretation of the story of Castle Hill itself.
* 100 seater studio for small scale performance: a flexible space.
* Arts workshops/flexible community facilities.
* Flexible exhibition/community facilities which open directly onto Castle Hill and the gardens beyond.
* Cafe and associated kitchen area to service a variety of events within the flexible community spaces.
The public park will be located within the scheduled monument site of Castle Hill and this area includes the Knox Hannyngton towers, all boundary walls and a well.
It is the Council's intention to provide access for everyone to this special site, creating an informal parkland setting to allow the residents of Dungannon open access to the historic towers, to appreciate the significance of the hill and its panoramic views out over the countryside, as well as space to relax and re-connect with nature in the heart of the town.
On a clear day seven of the nine Provinces of Ulster can be seen from Castle Hill!