Bahai News -- Bahá'í Community of Derry / Londonderry, Northern Ireland
Bahá'í Community of Derry / Londonderry, Northern Ireland
The official opening of the new Bahá'í Centre at 5 Clarendon Street took place on 1 May 2003. The first floor premises have been used for
community activities for more than a year and a decision was taken by the Spiritual Assembly in 2002 to make the situation official, starting
with checking with the fire and planning authorities what needed to be done if the venue was to be developed into a proper Bahá'í Centre. The
authorities were more than helpful and a programme of upgrading, necessary alterations, and finally redecoration resulted in a Centre worthy of
the Faith at this stage in its development in Londonderry. It is close to the city centre and prominently signed.
The Assembly decided that an official opening ceremony should be held. The Mayor of Derry, Councillor Kathleen McCloskey, was approached and
kindly agreed to ‘do the honours’. Local Bahá'ís, friends, and especially non-Bahá'ís who had been particularly helpful in the process of
establishing the Centre, were invited.
It had been planned to have part of the ceremony, starting with the ribbon-cutting but at the front door. However it became a soft
day (translation for non-Irish readers: the rain started to pour down) so after the Mayor was welcomed by Elizabeth Palin, Chair of the
LSA, and had cut the ribbon for the benefit of the press and Bahá'í photographers, proceedings moved to the main meeting room.
There the Mayor delivered a positive and supportive message of greetings, and it is worth quoting her words in full:
Good morning everyone, I am delighted to be here with you on May Day to celebrate the opening of the new centre here in Clarendon
Street. The Baha'i community in Derry has been growing in the city since 1971 and the Baha'i ethos of unity in diversity is something that has
inspired many people from all walks of life within the north-west and on a more regional and national basis too.
Important contributions have been made by the local Baha'i community on the proposed appointment of a Commissioner for Children
and the community has also done sterling work in the struggle to overcome racism, discrimination and prejudice within our city. Your community
adds to the richness and diversity of life within this city and I look forward to many more years of Baha'i involvement and good work within the
I wish you all great success with the centre and many happy times here so now, without further ado, I am delighted to announce
the new Baha'i Centre open....
The message of greetings from the National Spiritual Assembly of the United Kingdom, read by Derry Bahá'í Joan Catterson, referred
to the new Centre as a focal point of fellowship, love and activity, while that from the Republic of Ireland NSA, read by Donegal
Bahá'í Declan Devine, expressed the hope that it would prove a valuable addition to the life of this historic city.
Patricia Irvine said a few words of appreciation on behalf of the Bahá'í Council for Northern Ireland and her Council colleague
Eddie Whiteside read the Council's message of greetings, which said in part:
The Bahá'í community in Derry is an inspiration for Baha'is throughout Ireland. Individual members of the community
have made sacrificial contributions to the development of the community in the United Kingdom, in Ireland and further afield. The community has
been a feature of life in the city for nearly four decades and during that time has established a reputation for the way that it has handled its
affairs. We are delighted to join with you at this time of celebration when you officially open your Centre. We know that the Centre will become a
valuable focus for the community in the coming years and it is our ardent prayer that all your activities in the Centre will be blessed.
Finally Dr Keith Munro, who served on the first Spiritual Assembly of Londonderry when it was established over thirty years ago, and has
continued as a member since, said a few words and the formal part of the gathering closed with a prayer said by local Bahá'í youth
A slate plaque commemorating the opening of the Centre has been mounted on one wall of the meeting room as a lasting memento of the occasion.
The opening of the Centre was well covered in the local media.
©Copyright 2003, Bahá'í Community of Derry (Londonderry, Northern Ireland)
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