F.E. McWilliam Gallery and Studio retains Four Star Grading Award for eighth year running!

The Lord Mayor and members of staff from FE McWilliam Gallery holding a certificate with 4 stars from Tourism NI
Heather Beck (Quails at the Gallery Manager), Rachelle Cassells (Tourist Information Officer), Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Councillor Paul Greenfield and Valerie Martin (Gallery Guide).

The fabulous F.E. McWilliam Gallery and Studio in Banbridge has again shown itself to be a shining example of tourism excellence, as it has retained its prestigious Four Star Grading Award from Tourism Northern Ireland’s Quality Grading Scheme for Visitor Experiences.

This star award gives visitors a clear idea of the standards of service and cleanliness that they can expect when visiting the Gallery and the Grading Scheme is the same common standards scheme that is used by the AA and other national tourist boards in Scotland, England and Wales.

“What an absolutely fantastic accolade for the FE McWilliam Gallery and Studio to continue to retain year after year after year,” commented the Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon.

“The multi-award winning gallery has been committed for years to making it one of the most welcoming art venues in Northern Ireland and ensuring that the overall visitor experience is second to none, from the moment they walk through the front doors. The service, the knowledge, the expertise, the exhibitions, the food, the ambience – all of this and more is considered by Tourism NI – and the Gallery has excelled in every area. A huge congratulations to all the staff who continue to make it a wonderful experience to all who visit.”

Dedicated to the memory of sculptor Frederick Edward McWilliam – one of Ireland’s most renowned artists – the gallery has hosted a number of successful exhibitions including the most recent ‘Colin Davidson: Selected Paintings 1986 – 2022’, which saw an incredible 8000 people visit the Gallery!

The gallery’s current exhibition ‘Made in Ireland’, features works by some of Ireland’s top designers and makers, including local artists Maggie Napier, Alison Lowry and Anne Butler, and showcases the remarkable talent of crafts people throughout the island.

As well as exhibitions, different events are put on throughout the year, from talks and workshops, including the ever-popular Toddler Tuesdays, to free guided tours every Saturday and Wednesday at 11:00am.

The gallery also boasts a modern retail space showcasing local and international crafts. You’ll find jewellery from Quirky but Fierce, Glass I Studio, Jill Graham, Ghost and Bonesetter and Shannon McShane. Soap maker Averil Milligan and her Wild About Soap products also feature as well as Chandler Gail Lynas and her Buick House Candles.

There are ceramics by Mount Ida Pottery, Figament Ceramics and Ellen Woods Ceramics, textiles from Thomas Ferguson Irish Linen and Ulster Weavers, prints by Martina Scott, Paul Holmes and Ruth Osborne and a selection by artists from Seacourt Print Workshop. Plus lots more!

After browsing all of the wonderful sights on offer, don’t forget to stop off in the award-winning café, Quails at The Gallery, for lunch or a coffee and a treat where you can enjoy views of the sculpture garden.

Absolutely everyone is welcome to come along and enjoy the Gallery, which also prides itself on its accessibility, having previously won an award from the William Keown Trust in recognition of an accessible, user-friendly building.

There are four dedicated parking spaces for blue badges holders and automatic doors upon entrance to the building and throughout. A wheelchair is always to hand for anyone who may wish to avail of it and guide dogs are welcome.

“We are really delighted to retain our Four Star Grading from Tourism NI and to continue to offer so much for our visitors to enjoy,” commented Gallery Curator, Dr Riann Coulter.

“This award recognises the hard work that the staff put into making the F.E. McWilliam Gallery a great place to visit for all the family and it is particularly important to have gained this grading as we emerge from COVID and welcome back international visitors.”