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New visitor experience for Belfast Cathedral

29 May 2014

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Visitors to St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast can now enjoy a new and enhanced experience when they step through its historic doors.

In order to help guide tourists around this stunning building, sharing with them the history which lies within, the Cathedral now offers a high quality audio tour and guide booklet.

A bright new welcome desk will be the visitor’s first stopping point inside St Anne’s and the Cathedral shop has been expanded to entice people to step in and browse.

Entry to the Cathedral is now £2, an audio tour is an additional £4 and the high quality booklet which can accompany the tour or can be used independently costs £2. This is in keeping with most cathedrals in the UK and Ireland.

St Anne’s will be open to the public Monday to Saturday from 9am - 5.15pm (last audio tour at 4.45pm), and from 1 -3pm on Sundays. It will be closed to visitors during services.

St Anne’s, however, is the Cathedral for the City of Belfast, and the Chapel of the Holy Spirit will be free to visit for quiet prayer at any time.

The Dean of Belfast, the Very Rev John Mann, said: “Anyone can come into the Cathedral freely at any time of the day for space and quiet and a place to pray.”

The new audio guide has a beautiful musical underlay and an audio tour lasts approximately 40 minutes. The tour is conducted by a variety of commentators. Highlights include the tomb of Lord Carson – the only person buried in the Cathedral – where the audio includes extracts from the original funeral service in 1935, and personal reflections by Sir Donald Murray, who was a choirboy in St Anne’s on the day of the service.

In the Military Chapel, Colonel David Twigg, one of the founding committee of the Royal Irish Regiment which established the chapel, tells the fascinating story of a unique handmade Prayer Book. Master of the Choristers David Stevens talks about the choirs and the organ, and the audio relates the story of the stunning handcrafted Titanic pall.

Dean Mann said: “Our new audio guide to the Cathedral should be listened to, even by those who believe that they know St Anne's well - it is a wonderful introduction to one of our iconic buildings and its beautiful art work and interesting place in our history.”

The Dean added: “The Cathedral is also deeply aware that its main purpose is as a sacred space and a place of worship, and when its daily services happen, tourists will be excluded, or must sit quietly while the worship is taking place. There is no charge at these times.”

Belfast-based tourism strategy and delivery agency Oli developed the visitor plans, interpretation and technology for the Cathedral.

Julie McNeice, Oli’s Managing Partner, said: “This is the very latest in digital technology, and the first of its kind on the island of Ireland, yet it is simple to use.  This investment by St Anne’s Cathedral shows its great vision and commitment to keeping up with the ever-increasing expectations of visitors.  We have been delighted to work with the Cathedral on this project.”

Running costs at Belfast Cathedral amount to £1,200 - £1,300 per day, not including capital building costs. It is hoped the changes will boost the Cathedral’s income, allowing it to continue to be a vibrant part of the Belfast community and a place of sanctuary, prayer and worship for many years to come.

Places To Visit

Belfast Cathedral - The Cathedral Church of St. Anne, Belfast

St Anne's Cathedral was consecrated in 1904. It contains mosaics by Sir Charles Nicholson and sculptures by Rosamund Praegar and Maurice Harding. The Spire was added in 2006. A modest entry charge applies though Cathedral is free for private prayer.

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