The Gaeltacht Quarter / An Cheathrú Ghaeltachta
It is appropriate that the Gaeltacht Quarter, a place that is alive with language, should be home to one of the finest Carnegie libraries in Belfast. Carnegie libraries were built in the early part of the 20th century with money donated by the Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. In total, more than 2,500 such libraries were built world-wide.
The Falls Road branch (1905-08) is one of three Carnegie libraries in Belfast. The others are situated on the Oldpark Road (1905-06) and Donegall Road (1907-09). They were all designed by architects, Graham-Watt and Tulloch. The Falls Road branch opened on 2 January 1908 and is a fine example of the English Classical style. Spandrel angels over the entrance are by the gifted Irish artist, sculptor and writer, Rosamund Praeger (1867-1954). Praeger also designed the female figure plaques of 'Art' and 'Literature' on the front door. Attention to detail continues inside, with fine art nouveau ironwork on the stairway.
Conway Mill (1842), formerly the Falls Flax Spinning Company, is one of the earliest mechanical flax spinning mills in Belfast. It stands as a testament to an industry, which by 1873, had made Belfast the largest linen producing centre in the world, a position it held until 1914. Working conditions in the mills were harsh. The noise from machinery
was deafening and the combination of heat, steam and oil fumes from machinery was made worse by the fine dust released when preparing the flax fibres. Production ceased in 1972. Now a listed building, it is owned by a charitable trust and contains small businesses, a gallery and artists' studios. There are guided tours of the mill.
Clonard Monastery (1898-1900) is nearby on Clonard Gardens. Designed in the Gothic Revival style by J.J. McDonnell, this handsome four storeyed, red brick building adjoins McDonnell's ecclesiastical masterpiece, the Roman Catholic Church of the Most Holy Redeemer (1908-11). Built in the French Gothic style, the church's interior is richly ornamented, with striking mosaics along the nave by Gabriel Loire of Chartes. A rose window, 22 feet in diameter, crowns the entrance doors.
For insight to Belfast's Irish language arts and culture, visit Chultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich. Located in a former Presbyterian church on the Falls Road, it is the hub of Belfast's vibrant and fast growing Irish language community. An Chultúrlann's cosmopolitan atmosphere and its reputation for excellent food have made it an established meeting place for international travellers and backpackers, as well as celebrities visiting Belfast.
[Illustration captions, from top to bottom, read]
· Carnegie Library Circa 1923
· Andrew Carnegie
· Conway Mill