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Council call to preserve Northern Ireland hymn writer's home


Cecil Frances Alexander

Cecil Frances Alexander

Cecil Frances Alexander

A council is aiming to safeguard the former Co Tyrone residence of the poet behind one of our most-loved hymns.

A motion calling for the preservation of Milltown House, where hymn writer Cecil Frances Alexander lived, has received the support of Derry City and Strabane councillors.

Mrs Alexander is best known for the hymn 'All Things Bright and Beautiful'.

The Notice of Motion also called for the other buildings on the old Strabane Grammar School site at Liskey Road, Strabane, to be preserved as well as looking into the possibility of pursuing a Community Asset Transfer.

SDLP councillor Jason Barr brought the notice and explained to councillors: "This has become very popular among the people of Strabane and the surrounding areas to preserve this site to keep it for tourism and community use.

"The Strabane Historical Society are very hopeful about the conversion of this house and part of the site into a heritage visitors' centre, showcasing the long history our town has to offer.

"The new centre will accommodate heritage, historical information of the area and its people, a visitors centre and a community service which will benefit so many in the area.

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"We want Derry City and Strabane District Council to protect Milltown House and ensure its availability to Strabane Historical Society who will look after it, publicise and enhance the history it represents."

All members agreed and the motion passed unanimously.

Sometimes described as a Derry woman, Mrs Alexander was born in Dublin, at Eccles Street, and grew up in Co Wicklow.

When she was aged 15, her family moved to Milltown House, where her father worked for the Earl of Abercorn.

Later she married the Londonderry clergyman William Alexander, who would eventually become the Anglican Primate of All Ireland, and they lived first at Termonamongan, Killeter, near Castlederg, then at Upper Fahan in Co Donegal and then at Strabane again.

She wrote the hymn All Things Bright and Beautiful in 1848.

It was intended to teach the meaning of the Apostles' Creed, in this case 'Maker of heaven and earth'.

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