Hugh O’Neill would be seething with jealousy to learn that the castle towers he built to symbolise his hold over Ulster will soon be dwarfed by a new concert hall with dizzying viewing platforms offering the most panoramic views of the Ulster countryside from land.
Ambitious plans to transform Dungannon’s The Hill of the O’Neill into a leading venue for outdoor concerts, events and festivals have been revealed to the Tyrone Times.
Dungannon Council has secured funding for a £1.5m open-air concert hall to be built on the site that was once the medieval stronghold of the O’Neill’s, and later the residence of the Plantation of Ulster Commissioner Sir Arthur Chichester.
Plans for the new building, the cost of which is to be covered completely by Peace III funding, have been submitted to the planning office.
On a clear day tourists will be able to see seven counties from the specially designed conservation gallery on its roof, as well as the Sperrins, the Mourne Mountains, Slieve Gullion, Slemish Mountains and the Belfast hills.
The idea of creating viewing platforms as a major tourist attraction has been around since Dungannon Council first began to develop the site formerly known as Castle Hill.
However, it is only now that the plans for the new development have been drawn up that the idea has come to fruition.
The concert building will also have sliding side walls which, weather-permitting, will be opened to allow audiences to take in the expansive views.
It is envisaged that it will be completed before next summer.
“I’d like to see the new venue used by the entire community of Dungannon District for a variety of purposes”, said UUP Councillor Walter Cuddy.
“The views from the site are already impressive, and to have the platforms raised onto this new concert hall will surely prove to be a major tourist attraction. Nowhere else in the country will be able to offer similar views in terms of scope and magnificence.”