Mayors unveil White House restoration project

Alistair Bell and Drogheda Mayor Kevin Callan with Newtownabbey Mayor Billy Webb and Mayoress Pat Webb at the opening of the White House Heritage Centre. INNT 20-409-RM
Alistair Bell and Drogheda Mayor Kevin Callan with Newtownabbey Mayor Billy Webb and Mayoress Pat Webb at the opening of the White House Heritage Centre. INNT 20-409-RM
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MORE than 70 people gathered at Whitehouse Park on Thursday, May 10 as the White House Preservation Trust celebrated the official opening of the White House Heritage Centre.

The Trust has worked tirelessly over the last 12 years to transform the White House - Newtownabbey’s oldest building. The work was completed last summer and the Heritage Centre has already welcomed more than a thousand visitors.

The official opening ceremony was undertaken jointly by the Mayor of Newtownabbey and Chairman of the Trust, Alderman Billy Webb and the Mayor of Drogheda, Councillor Kevin Callan, further strengthening the strong relationship between Newtownabbey and Drogheda.

Alderman Webb commented: “I have been delighted to have been involved with the restoration of the White House. It has not been an easy task, and without the determination and dedication of the Trustees and the Project Manager Raymond McIlrath of Juray Partnership, this most important building would have been demolished and lost forever. I must pay tribute to everyone involved, including the funders, without whom this would not have been possible.”

Councillor Callan added: “To me the White House is one of the most important buildings in Europe. It is one of the few remaining buildings in Ireland which stood during that period in history and now tells that history. It is a great privilege to be asked to jointly officially open the White House.”

May 10 was a significant date for the opening ceremony as it was on the same day in 1690 that the Rev Rowland Davies landed at the White House with the Williamite Troops. Following his landing in Ireland on June 14 that year, the White House also welcomed King William III.

Today the White House hosts an exhibition entitled ‘A Tale of Three Kings’ which tells the story of this period of history from a European perspective. Further exhibitions tell the story of the 400-year-old building and some of the many scenes that the White House has observed including the ships that carried King William’s armies, the Titanic sailing on her maiden voyage and the Luftwaffe bombers using Belfast Lough as their gateway into the city.

Raymond McIlrath from the Juray Partnership commented: “This project has been difficult and challenging with intense complexities and problems throughout, but it has also been very satisfying and totally worthwhile. I’m delighted to have been part of such a special endeavour.”

Refurbishment of the building was made possible thanks to generous funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Biffaward, Ulster Garden Villages, The Northern Ireland Environment Agency and The Architectural Heritage Fund.

Further information about the White House is available online at www.thewhitehouseni.com

See full coverage in this week’s Times...