08.01.2009 PRESS RELEASE

Fr Mathew Hall Campaign

The issue of the proposed re-development (Art Gallery) at Fr Mathew Hall, Athlone is a very emotive one with the townspeople. The Athlone Town Council (ATC) greatly underestimate this depth of feeling and disrespect the wishes of Athlone people who already submitted similar sentiment to those listed below in the earlier public consultation.

We are appealing to the people to view the plans on display at the Athlone Civic Centre and make submissions to the ATC at the earliest opportunity. An artist's impression of the proposal can be viewed on our website at www.djansonline.com.

We are in the process of organising a public meeting and are getting in touch with our guest speakers, venue, etc. As soon as we have this in place we will publicise it in the local media.After viewing the detailed drawings, our members are unanimous in objecting to the development.

The following is a brief summary of the points raised at our meeting, Thursday 8th January '09:

1 We consider the proposed re-development of the existing structure to be a mutilation of the existing design. The interference with the structure to incorporate new openings spoils its character.

2 The proposed extension would obstruct the view of the bridge over the River Shannon - Athlone's most important landmark.

3 The building is on the site of the medieval town defences, namely the Connaught Tower. This is of significant archaeological importance. We have this information confirmed from an authoritative source.

4 The development would necessitate the removal of a considerable number of trees from the promenade.

The above points will be contained and expanded upon in our submission to the ATC.

Our Objective
We are requesting the careful restoration and refurbishment of the building. We recommend future uses should be the housing of the town tourist office and a Count John McCormack museum. John McCormack gave performances here, as did Percy French.

Minister John Gormley TD, recommended that Fr. Mathew Hall should be included on the Record of Protected Structures, considering it to be of special interest from an architectural, historical, cultural and social point of view. However, the Athlone Town Council has the final say on the matter. We are very concerned that the proposed development would be detrimental to the design and structural integrity.



Athlone Town Council's revised plan for Fr. Mathew Hall revealed

Connecting Athlone's Past

Formed in September 2007, Athlone Architectural Heritage Group is a voluntary group established to carefully monitor all building developments in Athlone town and its environs which may effect the aesthetic appearance, integrity and historical value. We are committed to promoting awareness and understanding of Athlone's heritage, and the importance of valuing its preservation.

We will be continually adding content to our website. Hoping you find it enjoyable and informative. Your comments are welcome at [email protected]. Thank you for visiting.

Athlone Architectural Heritage Group would like to acknowledge the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (NIAH) for their kind permission to use content from their website. See: www.buildingsofireland.ie. The NIAH is a section within the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. The work of the NIAH involves identifying and recording the architectural heritage of Ireland, from 1700 to the present day."
An introduction to the
Architectural Heritage of
County Westmeath
Available in local bookshops. ISBN is 0755771761.
It can also be ordered online from www.wordwellbooks.com

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