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President to open Connolly museum

FINAL TOUCHES: The James Connolly Visitor Centre will be ready by this Friday FINAL TOUCHES: The James Connolly Visitor Centre will be ready by this Friday
By Ciara Quinn

PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins will officially open the new Áras Uí Chonghaile/ James Connolly Visitor Centre on the Falls Road on Friday.

The President will deliver a speech to mark the historic occasion as the £1.4 million three-storey building in the Gaeltacht Quarter prepares to open its doors to visitors for the first time.

Director of Fáilte Feirste Thiar, Harry Connolly, told the Andersonstown News that it was an “honour” to have the President open the centre.

“James Connolly lived on the Falls Road just yards away from the location of the new Visitor Centre,” he said.

“He was a man of formidable ideas and remarkable vision. Over 100 years after James Connolly was executed, his values, his ideas and the example he gave us in life are as inspiring and relevant as ever.”

Harry Connolly said: “It is entirely fitting and appropriate that the President of Ireland will officially open the James Connolly Visitor Centre and pay tribute to Connolly’s colossal contribution to our nation and to the lives of so many across the world.”

As well as the President’s visit, 100 trade union leaders from 18 different unions have also arrived in the city to attend the opening including General President of the Labourers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) Terry O’Sullivan and Rocco Davis, Vice President and Regional Manager of Pacific Southwest Region of (LIUNA). James Connolly travelled to the US and is strongly linked with the trade union movement in the States.

Harry continued: “The realisation of Áras Uí Chonghaile is another major step forward for the success story that is West Belfast tourism. Supported by the Connolly family and funded by Belfast City Council and the US Trade Union Movement, this new visitor centre will have a major social and economic impact on Belfast’s Gaeltacht Quarter, attracting thousands of visitors from across the globe every year.

“We are inviting everyone to take part in the James Connolly Parade, leaving Conway Mill at 5pm on Good Friday and parading along the Falls Road to arrive at Áras Uí Chonghaile at 5.45pm.

“Outside the front of the centre a number of guest speakers headed by President Higgins will speak, and Irish singing star Frances Black will perform live along with renowned Belfast balladeer Terry ‘Cruncher’ O’Neill.

“We are saying to everyone, from the Falls Road, from Belfast, from across Ireland and from further afield, come along and take part in the parade and attend the opening ceremony outside Áras Uí Chonghaile. Good Friday will be James Connolly Day on the Falls Road and we aim to do him proud.”

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