Northern Finance Minister visits Carrickmacross Workhouse – Matt Carthy TD
The Sinn Féin Finance Minister in the northern Executive, Conor Murphy MLA, was in County Monaghan last Friday. His busy set of engagements included a visit to the Carrickmacross Workhouse complex.
Minister Murphy was hosted by local TD, Matt Carthy, and they were joined in Carrickmacross by Chris MacManus MEP, Fermanagh/ South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew and local Sinn Féin Councillors Noel Keelan and Colm Carthy.
The Sinn Féin delegation met with Yvonne Marron and Fiona Farrell who provided a tour of the historic buildings. Minister Murphy was provided with an extensive history of the Workhouse including its role during the Great Hunger when many local poor died at the site while 38 girls were transported to Australia in horrendous conditions.
The Workhouse representatives told of the efforts of the Farney Community Development Group who, over several decades, have strove to turn the centre into a vibrant, living community facility that couples as a memorial to all those who passed through the doors during darker times.
Deputy Carthy recalled to the visitors the efforts to secure the building into public ownership after it had entered into private hands. He referenced attempts to rezone the Workhouse lands in the mid 2000s which would have permitted the development of apartments on the historic site. He cited that, as the then chair of Carrickmacross Town Council, it was his casting vote that secured a ‘community’ zoning that protected the buildings and land.
That marked a turning point in the development of the buildings and Yvonne Marron outlined the fantastic work by the Community Development Group, assisted in large part by Monaghan County Council who officially purchased the building, who have brought their vision for the Workhouse to fruition. Ms. Marron further explained exciting new plans for the workhouse, including proposals to develop an artistic and tourism hub.
Conversation inevitably moved to funding opportunities with a particular emphasis on the future PEACE programme. Minister Murphy indicated that the next PEACE fund could be the last and therefore, in his view, it is imperative that monies deliver a long-term positive legacy across the border region. The vision of Carrickmacross Workhouse fitted perfectly into that sphere, he said. He also indicated that he hopes to see relationships strengthen further between community groups in South Monaghan and neighbouring South Armagh in his own constituency.
Speaking afterwards, Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, thanked the Workhouse management for facilitating the visit.
“The Workhouse is the flagship project of Carrickmacross. A building that was the site of our darkest days is now the driver of our vibrant community.
“The Farney Community Development group are a credit, their legacy is already assured but their future plans are exciting and ambitious. Certainly, we in Sinn Féin look forward to offering any support we can in ensuring their delivery.
“I was delighted to bring Minister Conor Murphy, MEP Chris MacManus and MP Michelle Gildernew to the centre. There are clearly new opportunities for all-Ireland and cross-border collaboration and my objective is to ensure that Co. Monaghan is in a position to utilise those opportunities. That is why visits such as this are so important”.