HRH The Prince of Wales visited St Malachy's Church in Alfred Street in Belfast to view the result of a £3.5million restoration project.
The Church opened in December 1844 when it was regarded as one of the finest examples of late Georgian-Tudor Revival churches in Ireland. Designed by Thomas Jackson of Waterford in the ecclesiastical style of the Tudor period, the church is best known for its fan-vaulted ceiling, inspired by the Henry VII Chapel at Westminster Abbey.
His Royal Highness was greeted by Dame Mary Peters DBE Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast.
Outside HRH listened to a brief overview on the restoration work to the outside of the church from Reverend Father Martin Graham, Curate of Saint Malachy’s Church who accompanied HRH throughout the engagement.
In 1941 a Luftwaffe bombing raid resulted in extensive damage to the original windows and they were temporarily repaired using concrete.
In 2006 the Diocese of Down and Connor embarked on a project to restore the external historic church fabric, install disability access and a full internal restoration based on historic records and research.
Inside the Church HRH met Architect Bronagh Lynch and a number of crafts people, including Stone Masons, Carpenters, Joiners, Glazing Contractors and Restoration Artists involved in the restoration project.
HRH The Prince of Wales went on to meet representatives from parish groups, including Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, Saint Malachy’s Primary School, Church Youth leaders and the Church Sacristan and a number of parishioners.
Later HRH went on to meet representatives of Saint George’s Boxing Club, the oldest amateur cross- community club in the city, which has close links to the parish.
Father Graham invited Ms Elizabeth McLaughlin, Secretary of Saint Malachy’s Pastoral Council, to present HRH with a gift of a montage of photographs depicting Saint Malachy’s Church before, during and after the restoration HRH also accepted an invitation to sign the visitors’ book.
The project was funded by the Diocese, including parish funding and a substantial grant from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (Historic Buildings Grant).
In the nearby Parochial House HRH The Prince of Wales met privately with Bishop Treanor, Bishop Walsh, Father Curran, Father McGinnity and Father Graham over light refreshments.
At a separate meeting, His Royal Highness chaired a discussion with a number of church representatives and other stakeholders to consider the role of redundant and distressed churches and church estates in the heritage-led regeneration of communities.
Notes to Editors
On arrival His Royal Highness was greeted by Dame Mary Peters DBE Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast, and went on to meet:
Councillor Patrick Convery, The Rt Hon The Lord Mayor of Belfast
Councillor Ian Adamson OBE, Sherriff for the County Borough of Belfast
Mr Peter McNaney, Chief Executive, Belfast City Council
Dr Alasdair McDonnell MP, MLA, Member of Parliament for South Belfast
The Rt Hon Peter D Robinson MLA, First Minister of Northern Ireland
Mr Edwin Poots, MLA, Minister, Department of the Environment
Mr Leo O’Reilly, Permanent Secretary, Department of the Environment
The Most Reverend Dr Noel Treanor, Roman Catholic Bishop of Down and Connor
The Most Reverend Dr Patrick Walsh, Bishop Emeritus of Down and Connor
Very Reverend Michael McGinnity, Parish Priest, St Malachy’s Church
Reverend Father Martin Graham, Curate, St Malachy’s Church