Oranmor - what's going on at the Church at the top of Byres Road?

Photo: workers on the job. Lots of people have been asking 'what's happening at the old Church at the top of Byres Road. For some months now this largescale development has been going on, in the heart of Glasgow's West, under the working name of 'Skerryvore'. Colin Beattie and his partner George Swanson have now made considerable progress with this project and the doors will open in June, 2004, revealing something quite sensational.

Oranmor is now open for business and will be playing a key role in this year's West End Festival

It will be called Oranmor, a name suggested by Colin's friend James Booth, and taken from 'The Great Melody', the Celtic primordial myth of creation...'a melody that does not cease with its creation but goes on and on...'. - Frank Mills - Back to Celtic Heart.

Mills, explains that:'the words of the song are as diverse as there are people to hear it' and this philosophy has certainly informed the creation of Colin Beattie's 'Oranmor'. A unique and diverse enterprise, which he sees as 'A Celebration of Scotland' - the name seems to suit it very well.

Photo: redevelopment. Last Friday, 2nd April, 2004, I met up with Colin and Helen Gallagher, Sales, Marketing, Events and PR Manager at Oranmor, to hear about progress and future plans and also get a chance to look at developments within the building. When Roy Beers first introduced me to this project he predicted that he would be surprised if we got something 'less than remarkable'. Roy, you were correct! - Oranmor is way beyond remarkable. Colin has surrounded himself with artisans and artists of the highest calibre and harnessed talent, energy, vision and positive vibes to turn this old, neglected Church into a magnificient building.

It was great getting the chance to look around the building in the final stages of redevelopment - watching Alasdair Gray, high above, working on his magnificient mural on the ceiling of the banqueting hall was no less than thrilling. This auditorium can seat 400 and the rafters will no doubt roar at many a future function. Care has been taken to retain the character of the building - stained glass windows are sparkling and archways are intact. Whilst behind the scenes there is evidence of attention to detail and state of the art installations galore with kitchens, plating areas, cool rooms, lifts, conveniently located toilets and access for the disabled.

Photo: building work. Colin Beattie and his partner George Swanson, have combined creativity with their hefty experience of the licenced and entertainment trade to come up with a programme of events and services that will rock your socks off. It is also acknowledged that 'punters' are not a homogenous group with the same tastes or needs and facilities are remarkably diverse, including:

  • 'a dry land Renfrew Ferry' with live entertainment, where the young and cool can hang out till the early hours.
  • A small stylish Viennese bar for the sophisticates.
  • A quality restaurant serving Scottish Fare -(two seatings on a Sunday with great family lunches at reasonable prices).
  • A whisky bar
  • and a lounge

Photo: auditorium.The magnificient banqueting hall, crowned by Alasdair Gray's masterpiece, will be a perfect setting for weddings and visiting dignatories. However, it will also be the venue for 'a play, a pie and a pint' - bound to be a big West End attraction. David MacLennan - Glasgow playwrite is currently busy writing plays.

I reckon that Oranmor will see many celebrations great and small. At the other end of Byres Road, Colin achieved international acclaim with 'The Lismore'- recently named World Whisky Bar. There is no doubt that there will be many future accolades in store for Oranmor. Celebrate Scotland it will - folk are set to flock to it from all 'airts and pairts' and surely locals will just love it.

Photographs courtesy of Bill Cairney

Contact: Helen Gallagher - E mail: [email protected]