Stephen Huggett, Board member of the Northern Ireland Rural Development Council, today (Thursday 29th March) officially opened a new centre for cultural heritage in Aughakillymaude, Co. Fermanagh.
The Centre is located in the recently restored and refurbished listed building of Aughakillymaude National School (1888) and is situated on the shores of upper Lough Erne. Having previously been well used by the local community it will now become a major attraction to visitors and will showcase many of the traditional cultural activities from the area.
In particular it includes an exhibition dedicated to the masked traditions of Mumming which continues to be ever popular in the townlands of Co. Fermanagh. The traditional and comical performance of folk drama, music, song and dance is routinely performed at festivals, weddings, home comings and even emigrant ‘wakes’ by the Aughakillymaude Mummers.
The Centre will be used both as a visitor attraction for tourists and as an educational facility to teach children Mumming roles, rhymes, as well as strawcraft. An archive of Mumming traditions of both home and abroad will also be provided. The Centre will also have a shop selling strawcraft items.
As part of the Centre’s calendar of events to attract visitors the association will also be providing a series of folk nights of traditional music and dance during the high tourist season.
The £266,000 project has been developed by Aughakillymaude Community Association (ACA), with funding of £153,782 from the Northern Ireland Rural Development Council (RDC) through the European Union Programme for Building Sustainable Prosperity Programme, £94,781 from the International Fund for Ireland (the Fund) and a £17,500 investment from the local community raised from Mumming performances.
Delivering the keynote speech at the launch Stephen Huggett of RDC commented, “As part of the Rural Development Programme, RDC is proud to have worked with ACA over the past four years in the development of this venture through the Local Economy measure of the EU Building Sustainable Prosperity Programme. As a Council RDC is working to encourage a flourishing and sustainable rural Northern Ireland and believe that rural communities play a vital and significant role in achieving this. This project, involving the renovation and refurbishment of a old property to provide an outlet for local tourist activity is an example of a rural community identifying and addressing its needs and is one in which RDC is very proud to be involved”.
Denis Rooney, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland, said: “We are delighted to be able to assist the Aughakillymaude Community Association in the provision of a cultural tourism centre. Co. Fermanagh attracts many visitors each year due to its natural beauty and lakelands. This Centre will enable ACA to capitalise on these visitors by providing a dedicated centre and focus for cultural activities which will act as a further boost to tourism in the area.”
Brian, McManus, Chair of ACA, predicted that the new centre would be both a hive and a hub of traditional music and dance. “This Centre will turn out to be a natural port of call for the many overseas visitors who come off their cruisers at nearby Knockninney Pier. I for one am grateful to the RDC and The Fund in believing and helping this cultural tourism project finally come to fruition. There is no doubt in my mind the Centre will enjoy wholesome, cross community support while also informing and educating people on their distinctive traditions that are alive and well here in Aughakillymaude.”
As part of the official opening guests at the event were treated to a special performance of Mumming by children from the local area.
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