A south Belfast architectural gem is to be recognised in a prestigious international award scheme.
St Malachy’s Church on the outskirts of the Markets is the only building in Northern Ireland to make it onto the shortlist of the annual Civic Trust Awards.
It is in the running to receive either an award or commendation at a presentation ceremony in Liverpool in March.
The church is included in the international shortlist for best new buildings, restorations and public spaces.
Each year awards are given to projects which are culturally, socially or economically beneficial and make an outstanding contribution to the quality and appearance of their environment.
And the judging panel were clearly impressed by the recent £3.5 million renovation project undertaken at St Malachy’s.
Said the panel: “It was an excellent example of restoration work with the church providing a truly uplifting interior, a superb surprise behind the more modest brick facade.”
The 165-year-old church was reopened last March after it was painstakingly restored to its original glory in a 15-month rebuild programme.
Work was carried out on restoring the altarpieces, stencilling and mosaic work in the sanctuary, the ceiling and the stained glass.
A new altar, baptismal font and chair were installed in the church as part of the careful restoration.
The original Irish oak window frames, blown out during the Belfast blitz in 1941 and replaced with concrete at the time, were also replaced and existing shrines refitted in the style of the church.
Curate at St Malachy’s Fr Martin Graham said priests and parishioners were overwhelmed at the accolade.
“It is a great honour for all of us and we were completely surprised and amazed when we found out last week that the church was to receive such a tribute.
“The renovation work has been just fantastic and we have had so many positive comments both from local people and our many visitors.
“It’s amazing to think that our fame has now spread to an international level.
“The parishioners are so proud of this wonderful church which they have kept going for 165 years.”
Meanwhile, the Chinese Community and Resource Centre on Stranmillis Embankment is also to receive special recognition from the Civic Trust Awards.
It has been commended by the judging panel for “the positive impact it provided to the local community”.
The £1.5m centre houses staff offices, a multi-purpose hall, training room, library, conference room, user room, creche and playground.
The project marked the end of 13 years of campaigning and lobbying by the Chinese Welfare Association.
A total of 44 projects have been shortlisted from across the UK, the Republic of Ireland and Scotland.
The award ceremony will be hosted by George Clarke, presenter of Channel 4’s The Home Show.