Update on the Cultúrlann – Swifts, Stone Windows and Scaffolding

Much thanks are due to Mossie Angland, project manager of Cultúrlann MacAmhlaoibh for giving us a number of tours of the building and allowing us to share pictures and information on this site and our facebook page.  I think it is safe to say that the community of Newmarket is still in a state of shock that this beautiful old building is being given this new lease of life thanks to the huge generosity of John Paul McAuliffe, Chieftan of the McAuliffe clan.  (You can follow the McAuliffe clan on facebook at facebook.com/McAuliffe2012.  You will find plenty of information there, especially about their next clan gathering which takes place in 2016.)

We have created a folder in the gallery on this site called ‘the cultúrlann’ where you can see the latest pictures of the renovation of the building.  Much of the work to date has been focused on the roof and the outside of the building which has been painstakingly restored – taking care to maintain and repair as many original features as possible.  The building was recently sandblasted revealing the beautiful limestone which had been hidden for many years under a layer of black dirt.

As beautiful as the building is on the outside when you step into the building from the back entrance, your breath is taken away by the stunning trio of stone arched windows at the fore of the building.  Even now, with the inner frame missing and without glass these windows are a thing of beauty.  As you gaze upwards the next sight that hits you is the roof which has been reproduced to match the original.  Even in this very early stage the cultúrlann is a really amazing space.

Our most recent visit, was on the 24th of April when Mossie invited us along to meet Brin McDonnell  of Birdwatch Ireland who was there to examine some potential nests (46 to be precise) that had been built especially for Swifts.  Swifts are Amber-listed in Ireland due to a decline in the breeding population according to the Birdwatch Ireland website.  Along with a chat about the difference between the welsh and Irish languages, Brin told us all about this fascinating bird.  They will be nesting in the next fortnight and if you are passing the building you might even hear them screeching around the place.  They nest every 4 years; eat and even sleep on the wing.  You can learn more about them here: http://www.birdwatchireland.ie/IrelandsBirds/Swifts/Swift/tabid/1127/Default.aspx 

Tadhg Buckley, the contractor for the building, constructed 46 of these access points for the swifts around the edge of the roof on the side closest to the graveyard.  They were made following instruction from Brin.  We climbed up to the top of the scaffolding to examine them and Brin was very happy with the work.  Tadhg is also going to bring down some of the scaffolding for the next few weeks while the birds are nesting.  Hopefully these access points will serve as nests for these birds for many years to come.

We are already looking forward to our next trip – and we will of course keep you posted with photographs and any information we receive.  Brin is going to monitor the Swifts over the coming weeks so we will hopefully have some news for you about how they are getting on.

Finally, we’d like to appeal for any old photographs you might have of the building.  We’re always looking for old photos to share here but we are particularly interested in getting some old photos of the building – in particular anything that would show the original design of the building.  You can email them to contact@athtrasna.com or drop them into Eilis Hourigan on the New Street where they can be scanned as you wait.