Tearooms for Brontė site?

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Tearooms for Brontė site? thumbnail Drumballyroney Church and Schoolhouse outside Rathfriland

COUNCIL is looking at what the future holds for the Brontė site outside Rathfriland.

The former Drumballyroney Church of Ireland church and schoolhouse on the Church Hill has been in the ownership of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.

The site has been used in recent years as an interpretative centre telling the story of the famed literary Brontė sisters' link to the area through their father, Patrick.

Drumballyroney Church and School, where Patrick Brontė taught and preached, have been preserved and now include displays about the Brontė f amily.

It is part of the eight-mile signposted Brontė Homeland Drive which starts at Drumballyroney Church and School and takes in the childhood home of the Brontė's grandmother, Alice McClory on Brontė Road, Glascar School site where Patrick taught and the Knockiveagh Picnic Site.

Council members visited the Drumballyroney site last month to discuss potential future uses for both the church and visitor centre.

Members of the Environmental Services Committee were told that following the site meeting, officers have explored a number of potential uses for daytime and evening time activities including a tearooms and refurbished entertainment space with the possibility of "tendering the evening activity".

These will be taken forward in conjunction with partners in Tourism Ireland and Tourism Northern Ireland to explore the potential of the site to encourage more literary tourists and other potential users.

A list of essential maintenance at the site was also discussed, "some of which needs to be programmed in over the next number of months, during off season".

It was then agreed to take time now to find the best future solution for the usage of the site and to allow the arts and cultural review to come to solid conclusions with regard to the Brontė site.

"There is a need to bring the buildings and site into a useable condition, this is necessary regardless of whether the council retain direct usage or involve a third party usage," the report stated.

It was set to be ratified at the full council meeting last night (Monday) that officers explore further options for daytime and evening activity and report back to committee on a detailed options report early in the New Year.

Also to decide to approve the centre's closure over the winter to allow essential maintenance and to try and relocate any existing bookings.


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