A €4m cultural centre at Teach an Phiarsaigh (Pearse’s Cottage) in Ros Muc is on course to be ready for next year’s commemorations of the 1916 rising.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny turned the first sod at the site during a visit to south Connemara on Monday, July 6.
The centre is one of eight permanent reminders being developed as part of the Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme, and is the only project outside of Dublin.
Teach an Phiarsigh was the summer residence of Padraig Pearse for over a decade between 1903 and 1915. It is a key discovery point on the Wild Atlantic Way and attracts more than 7,000 visitors annually. This number is expected to rise dramatically after the cultural centre is built alongside the cottage.
There will be multiple elements to the development, including a new visitor centre, Cosán Chonamara, consisting of 10 acres including looped walks; Slí na Coille, an interpretative space focusing on Padraig Pearse; and the existing cottage.
Fáilte Ireland last week announced a grant of €750,000 for the centre. This follows on from a €1m allocation by Údarás na Gaeltachta last January, and €2m funding from the Government’s 1916 Commemoration Fund.
Steve Ó Cúláin, Chief Executive of Údarás na Gaeltachta, welcomed the Fáilte Ireland funding, and said he hoped the centre would be ready to be officially opened by next summer.
Speaking at the event, An Taoiseach said: ‘I am delighted to turn the first sod for this centre, which will be a fitting tribute to Patrick Pearse in a Gaeltacht area that was very close to his heart.’
Also present at the event was Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs Joe McHugh, who said he hoped the centre would become ‘a hub for experiencing Irish as a contemporary living language’.
Local Fine Gael Councillor Eileen Mannion noted the centre is the only project for the centenary celebrations to be located outside Dublin, and hoped it would become ‘a focal point for events’ in 2016.