16/07/2001

HOPES RAISED FOR REOPENING OF NAVAN CENTRE

NAVAN FORT is to be the focus of a concerted campaign of events designed to bring about the reopening of the County Armagh heritage centre, widely considered to be one of the most important Celtic heritage sites in Ireland

The decision to close the Navan Visitors Centre was finally reached in June, following weeks of speculation about the future of the centre. Northern Ireland Minister for Culture Arts and Leisure, Michael McGimpsey, had raised concerns about the financial viability of the Centre, which had been refurbished last year after a fire that caused £200,000 of damage.

However, on Sunday 15 July, the first in a series of events designed to increase awareness of the importance of the site was organised by the Centre’s former staff, who have pledged to continue holding similar events every month until a decision is made to reopen the site.

Experts from Queen’s University, Belfast and from the Ulster Museum were on hand to give guided tours around the site, which has been identified as the legendary ‘Emain Macha’, the headquarters of warrior dynasty, the Red Branch knights, whose most famous champion was CuChulainn, the Hound of Ulster. Bronze and Iron Age artefacts dating back more than 7,000 years have been found at the hill fort, which was the seat of power of the ancient Kings of Ulster. (CL)

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