The St Patrick Centre in Downpatrick is to temporarily close its doors for the first time in its 20-year history in line with stringent measures to protect public safety.

The decision which takes effect tomorrow has been taken in solidarity with other public centres in a bid to curb the outbreak of the Coronavirus.

“The reality is we have no choice,” said Dr Tim Campbell, Director of St Patrick Centre, the only permanent exhibition in the world about Ireland’s leading patron saint. “Closing our doors temporarily is absolutely the right thing to do, however difficult.

“We have made this decision mindful of the public and our own staff safety. We are very sad about taking this step, as the St Patrick Centre is at the heart of Downpatrick’s community, welcoming many friends and visitors from home and abroad.

“We are currently working on plans to provide help and support in the community as part of our remit as a charity dedicated to St Patrick, who himself experienced social isolation and uncertainty.

“We look forward to the Centre, including our excellent exhibition, education programme, gift shop and garden café opening again as soon as possible.”

The Centre is marking its 20thanniversary in January and when the worst of this virus passes we hope to have an amazing series of events and celebrations.

For more information, please contact our press officer Martina Purdy 02844619000.