On Friday 21st July, 2000, Mr Noel Treacy TD, Minister for Science, Technology and Commerce officially opened the Belderrig Research and Study Centre.
Speaking at the opening Minister Treacy said: ”It is a wonderful pleasure for me, to be here today to officially open this new Research and Study Centre. I am not aware of any other area, especially one of comparable size to Belderrig, that can boast of a centre that combines the triple elements of Community, Science and Technology, under the same roof.
The Academic Study that has given rise to the Visitor Centre at the nearby Céide fields and now a Community Research Centre is tangible evidence, if such evidence were ever needed, of the real benefits that can come from the bringing together of Research, Development and a Local Community. It is a wonderful achievement and all involved are to be congratulated and deserve our deepest gratitude."
The Belderrig Environmental Research and Study Centre will provide a facility for researchers to exploit the unique and proven potential for the study of the long term relationships between people, climate and land. It will also enable better dissemination of the results of research from Belderrig and will provide a centre for study and field work for native and foreign participants.
This development will provide a permanent base for the archaeological and ecological research of international significance, which has been carried out on a much smaller scale in Belderrig under Dr. Seamus Caulfield, since the 1960s. It will also provide a facility, where a wide variety of Courses at second and third level, as well as extra mural adult type Courses can be offered.
The research facility will be complimentary to the Céide Fields Visitor Centre and will play an important role in ensuring the long term viability of that project through the creation of new research results, necessary for the continuation of the Céide Fields exciting story.
The potential to carry out human/environmental Scientific research, within the environs of this rural village, are without parallel nationally and internationally.
Minister Treacy said: “Today is a day for celebrating teamwork and community spirit where the efforts of the local community have resulted in the past meeting the future. This new Research centre gives a visible focus and is tangible evidence of that sense of community.
In combination with the study centre it provides encouragement for those from elsewhere in Ireland or abroad to learn on the one hand about pre historic Belderrig and on the other experience Belderrig as a modern dynamic West of Ireland Rural Community.
It also affords the opportunity for archaeologists to provide us with an even deeper understanding of our past. I look forward to researchers making us more informed of the past and expect even greater outputs from these studies in the future, which I know will include archaeology, astronomy, ecology, geology meteorology and many other Sciences."
This project, which is a partnership headed by Mayo VEC, also includes Mayo County Council, the Céide Fields Research Centre and the Belderrig Community and Research Foundation.
Minister Treacy said: "This Project would not have got off the ground, were it not for the sustained efforts of a few key individuals. In this regard, I would like to pay special tribute to Dr. Seamus Caulfield, Professor Martin Downes and Mr. Joe Langan who, along with the local community, have spearheaded this project.
The decision of our Government to invest in this project is a perfect example of our commitment to invest in the rural regions. I am personally very pleased that the Government acceded to my request that this investment be made. It is a natural addition to the State funds which we already allocated to the Céide Fields Visitor Centre."
Concluding Minister Treacy also paid tribute to Dr. Tom Moffat T.D., Minister of State, Councillor Brian Golden and Mr. Des Mahon, Mayo County Manager, for their support for this project, over the last number of years.