The historic Portaferry Market House will reopen to the public today after a £1.28 million renovation.
The reopening of the much-loved town centre venue coincides with Portaferry’s 50th Gala Week celebrations, taking place from today until July 21.
The gala festival is offering some spectacular new events to mark the anniversary. An opening extravaganza with live musical acts including country star Ritchie Remo, kids fancy dress, open air boxing, a comedy play, live radio, paper boat race, live wrestling, a 10-mile run, tea dance for seniors and a float parade display will make for a great anniversary celebration.
The Market House reopens following a £1.28 million heritage-led scheme administered by Portaferry Regeneration Ltd.
Dating from the mid-eighteenth century, the Market House is the earliest surviving public building in Portaferry and was designed with a typical Irish market house plan form, with an arcaded open-plan ground floor and hall or courthouse to the first floor.
Originally the Market House held a market every Thursday. Upstairs meetings of the Portaferry Literary Society and the Portaferry Mechanics’ Institute took place there. The building was also used as a manor court and later, a petty session court. Tea dances and concerts were popular in the central location. In the nineteenth century, a daily reading room was opened as was Portaferry’s first bank, the penny bank.
Today, the Market House remains a central community hub that is currently used for various activities including meetings, fitness classes, arts and crafts classes, martial arts, sea scout’s activities, youth clubs, coffee mornings and the hub of the gala week celebrations kicking off today.
Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Robert Adair, welcomed the improvements, saying: “The Market House is right at the centre of Portaferry and its refurbishment will make a significant impact to the core of the town.”
John Dumigan, chair of Portaferry Regeneration Ltd, said he believed the renovation would “kick start renovations of private property in the town” and help to bring in “tourism-related businesses”.