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First Look: Irish World Heritage Centre

Ben Robinson has a Guinness and a look at phase one of the new Irish centre

Written by . Published on February 8th 2013.

First Look: Irish World Heritage Centre

A 25-acre patch of North Manchester is slowly turning emerald as the new Irish World Heritage Centre takes shape.

The huge project on Queen’s Road, Cheetham Hill is still mostly a levelled building site awaiting further development. Phase one of the construction is complete though and fully open for business, 25 years after the original centre first opened.

The current facilities include a beautiful bar, multi-purpose function room and shop dealing with selected Irish imports.

The design of the bar is one of smooth curves and concentric circles, everything centring round a 5,000-year-old piece of preserved Irish timber.

Staggeringly the next phase includes installing a 270-bed hotel, eleven football pitches, a restaurant, business centre, museum, education space, leisure facilities and of course, a travel agent. Perhaps after whiling away the hours in the entirely Irish crafted bar, visitors will be so overcome with the urge to visit the Emerald Isle itself, they'll book a one-way flight there and then?

Speaking of the bar, it's a thing of beauty. Every little detail was designed and made in Ireland before being shipped over and constructed here. Even the stone flagging was brought over especially from Donegal.

The design is one of smooth curves and concentric circles, everything centring round a 5,000-year-old piece of preserved Irish timber. The circular nature of the bar and imported Irish materials do their best to make you feel like you’re sat in a plush new addition to the Temple Bar area of Dublin.

Img_9601Irish Wood

What gives it away though, is the view of the Manchester skyline through the floor to ceiling windows. Not that this is a bad thing however, the view of the city from the north is brilliant, even if you have to gaze at it over an acre of wet mud waiting to be landscaped.

It's a superb drinking partner with the newly built Co-op building in the foreground, showing off the city’s increasing modern architectural exploration. This is part of the problem of the bar in its new habitat though – its location.

When the whole project is finished it will prove to be a central hub to all who use the various facilities and events on offer. Yet it is a fifteen minute walk to the nearest bus stop in either direction and you’d have to be committed to walk there from town, as Confidential did.

Img_9590MCR Skyline and garden in progress

The new tram stop opening nearby by will aid accessibility but the fact the only other person there upon this particular visit was the barman is slightly concerning. It will have to heavily rely on the draw of the other to-be-completed elements to draw in visitors from the city.

The previous site was a stone’s throw away however, so regulars will continue to head down to ‘Irish Town’ at the weekends as events and activities become more frequent.

Img_9604Welcome to Irish Town

One big draw to make an excursion from outside of the immediate area is naturally the Guinness which is priced at only £3 a pint. There aren’t many places that could rival that value. Unfortunately it's Guiness Extra Cold which comes out of the taps rather than the original and best from St James’ Gate itself.

There’s no doubt a lot of thought and money has gone into the project. The whole project has cost £5m so far. It was mostly funded by the sale of the old centre to the Manchester Fort retail park as well as receiving £2m from the Irish Government and a small subsidy from Manchester City Council.

The Irish imports shop adjacent to the bar is a nice touch, offering products such as Kelly’s Puddings, Barry’s Tea and Kimberley Biscuits. The shop is open every day 9am-5pm with new stocks being brought in every 7-10 days.

Img_9599Imported goodies

It’s early days for the new Irish World Heritage Centre, planning started ten years ago with the whole project now expected to be completed within two years. The plans do look impressive and exciting on a large scale and Confidential will be back to see how the area progresses during the next phase. For now though a trip up to enjoy the view over a pint of the black stuff is definitely no chore.

1 Irish Town Way, Cheetham Hill, M8 0AE.

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23 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Manc GuyFebruary 8th 2013.

EDITORIAL COMMENT: We do not allow the calling of names or personal comments on Manchester Confidential. So these comment streams are being removed. Jonathan Schofield - editor

1 Response: Reply To This...
Manc GuyFebruary 9th 2013.

But, but...SMITTY started it !!! :)

AnonymousFebruary 8th 2013.

'as well as receiving £2m from the Irish Government'

So the Irish government still has lots of cash even though the rest of that country is skint!

SmittyFebruary 8th 2013.

Can't wait to go up to this - it's been such a long time coming!

On a really dull historical note, all Guinness in the UK comes from the St James' Gate brewery in Dublin, extra cold or not. The Park Royal brewery in London closed down a number of years ago and production transferred to Dublin. However, the London brewery only opened up when Guinness were concerned that Ireland and Britain were going to engage in a trade war and so they opened the brewery to ensure that the UK didn't impose import taxes on Guinness. The trade war never really came off, but the brewery remained there till quite recently.

DavidFebruary 8th 2013.

I think this is really great.That corner of the city actually has a lot of unrealised potential especially because of its population mix.I would love the Jewish community to do something here in the same scale.Then you could see lot more people coming to the area.
The greatest strength of Manchester is its ethnic and cultural diversity.It is a real melting pot city,New York on a smaller scale.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Manc GuyFebruary 8th 2013.

It would be great if all these cultures and nationalities integrated into the British society, or at least got along with each other.

ConmanFebruary 8th 2013.

What a beautiful building - looks like a really pleasant place to visit.

AnonymousFebruary 8th 2013.

I moved north from London 4 years ago, and I have to admit, with no great enthusiasm for the relocation. But each week I discover something new and wonderful about Manchester. I may not be a Manc. born and bred but I am glad to call the city home as I am continually impressed by the rich tapestry of the city's heritage. This is an impressive investment in the urban fabric of the city by one of it's communities. More I say!

1 Response: Reply To This...
Manc GuyFebruary 9th 2013.

Good to hear ANON'. You'll always be a tourist though ;)

Tim EvansFebruary 9th 2013.

If the building markets itself properly and holds Irish-themed events it might do reasonably well. The only thing that worries me is that since it is pretty far out of the City centre and doesn't have very good public transport access it could end up being a white elephant, beautiful though it is.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Manc GuyFebruary 9th 2013.

It would be a great place to locate all of the Irish 'travellers'. I could do with some lucky heather.

Martin EvansFebruary 9th 2013.

Manc Guy, your lack of education or tolerance is showing through. You've a view rather skewed by your bitter beliefs. My girlfriend is German, and her view, as an outsider, is that she's very impressed by the way in which different communities do integrate in England, Manchester specifically, and that Germany could learn a lot from it. The Irish influence on Manchester is MUCH greater and more positive than the actions of a couple of haters back in 1996; even though their own idiocy ironically proved the catalyst for the rebirth of the city. I work in the city centre and know and count among my mates people of ALL ethnic backgrounds; mixed couples don't even raise an eyebrow these days. Where are the ghettos mate? I live in Levenshulme, which has a large Indian/Pakistani community, one of whom lives downstairs from me with her English boyfriend. You carry on with your narrow, paranoid world view and let the rest of us just get on with one another.

5 Responses: Reply To This...
StephFebruary 9th 2013.

Hear hear.
Manc Guy, think you might be better off reading this website http://www.dailymail.co.uk
You'll find plenty of like minded people in the comments section.

Manc GuyFebruary 9th 2013.

Thanks for your typing effort their MARTIN. If what you're saying is true about where you live, than that gives me hope that one day we can all hold hands and sing songs together.

Your first two sentences are very presumptuous. You don't know me, my views aren't skewered and my beliefs aren't bitter and for the record, half of my family were born and live in and around Levenshulme and as they are 'old' Levenshulme, they've seen all the changes from Whit Walks to curry houses. They all agree that the Stockport and Albert Road area needs a lot of work doing to it, but it is a busy road and those 192's don't stop coming, so I'm sure it can't help look scruffy.

I too work in the city and work and have worked with people of different race, culture and nationality. In my experience, for some of them, there's no interaction beyond the factory gates and it's clear when talking to them that they live in close knit communities and don't socialise beyond those communities. That's their business, but for some, it sends a message.

Now I never used the word ghetto, you did. But I would say council estates are ghettos in way. The other side of my family are from Gorton and some were relocated to a large isolated farmer's field [back thenm it was], more commonly known as Hattersley. That's where I grew up and along with my siblings, we got jobs after leaving school, saved up and bought houses and so too did my parents in time. By doing so, our lives improved and so did our standard of living and we're now not a burden on the tax payer. Hattersley has third generation families living there. That's their business. Each to their own. I lost touch with all my schoolmates from there and made new friends through work.

The life I've had and the life I'm living is well travelled and open to new cultures and experiences, so I certainly don't have a narrow, paranoid world view. I've lived and worked in a different country much further away than Germany, and I'm sure your girlfriend will agree that not only does it make sense to integrate and willingly be a part of your new home, but you see the town you're from in a new light. In my case it was Manchester, and I realised that I'd sort of taken the city for granted. It took moving away to realise this and I missed it, which is why I moved back. Now, I can't get enough of the place. I'm just having a hard time trying to convince my friends and colleagues to feel the same way.

Manc GuyFebruary 9th 2013.

@ STEPH as Schofield puts it 'We do not allow the calling of names or personal comments'. So before he does, I'll have me rant;

Is that all you and the SMITTY's of this world can do if you disagree with a comment? Label and then dismiss someone?

I shop at Asda. Does that make me a Chav?

I can't stand football. Does that make me a gay Mancunian?

I have gay friends. Does that mean I'm gay?

I have no black friends. Does mean I'm a racist?

I choose not own a car. Does that make me an eco-warrior?

I've never voted. Does that mean I'm a conspiracy theorist?

I only buy discounted wine. Does that mean I'm common?

I never went to University. Does that mean I'm dumb?

I tell people to take their feet off the seats on trains and buses. Does that mean I'm a bit old fashioned?

I sometimes pick litter up that's next to me even though I never dropped it. Does that mean I'm a mug?

I take the morning's free newspaper home with me and recycle it. Does that mean I'm a tree hugger?

I lived in a country with a warm sunny climate, had a better way of life and chose to move back to Manchester. Does that mean I'm closed minded?

I can't afford to eat at most of the restaurants Schofield reviews. Does that mean I've never lived?

I'm on here for the news and the banter STEPH. Not name calling. And perhaps a chance to win a competition or two. If you feel the need to label me and post a link, let me return the gesture. YouTube the following names; Pat Condell, Martin Willett, Daniel Hannan, Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins. You might not agree with everything or anything those people have to say, but you could accept the fact that they have an opinion rather than labeling and dismissing them.

StephFebruary 9th 2013.

If you get a couple of minutes in between writing essays on here could you tell me what label I gave you?

Manc GuyFebruary 10th 2013.

Of course STEPH. You can't deny posting a link to the Dail Mail's website and advising me I'll 'find plenty of like minded people in the comments section.' implied I am a 'Daily Mail Reader'. Whilst I've lived overseas, it seems to be a popular description of the narrow minded, ignorant and blindly patriotic people in British society. A bit like religious extremists in a way. Pat Condell's good at pointing the latter out.

John GouldFebruary 9th 2013.

Hope it's not a soul-less as it looks. Could be a hotel bar/reception anywhere. The old one was tatty but you looked forward to going there

StephenFebruary 9th 2013.

Called in briefly last weekend, but didn't stay. I wanted to catch the football (and check out the new centre) but couldn't see the big screen because of those spherical light fittings. They need removing and replacing, and quickly, as about 80% of the room cannot see the screen.

Duke FameFebruary 10th 2013.

Not sure why this gets a "subsidy from Manchester City Council." does every new pub /bar / hotel get taxpayer's money to import materials that could be sourced locally?

1 Response: Reply To This...
crisbyFebruary 10th 2013.

That's a fair question but my guess would be it's in recognition of a new development plus landscaping on a tatty piece of land (was this part of the old Queens Road tip?)

MichaelApril 20th 2014.

Been there 2013 an the old centre a lot, of friends I no love it good friends like joe & friends co down

MichaelApril 20th 2014.

See use all soon

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