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Derry City & Strabane

Local Councils Plan A Giant Visitor Experience For The Sperrins

The Isak Heartstone Sculpture, Breckenridge, Colorado USA by Thomas Dambo, who is part of the artist led design and construction consultancy team appointed to undertake the sculpture development and installation works along with McGurk Architects.

Members of the public are invited to have their say on the proposed Sperrin Sculpture Trail that is being rolled out by Derry City & Strabane District Council in partnership with Fermanagh & Omagh District Council and Mid Ulster District Council.

The Sperrin Sculpture Trail is being delivered through the Rural Tourism Scheme as part of the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 with support from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA). It aims to install an iconic and unique art piece within each of the three Council areas in an effort to drive and encourage rural tourism and support investment in local natural and built heritage.

The locations within the Sperrins on which the artworks will be installed are near Cranagh (Derry City & Strabane District Council area); at Mullaghcarn (Fermanagh & Omagh District Council area) and at Davagh Forest (Mid Ulster District Council area).The estimated cost of project delivery is £1,887,000 of which £1,325,000 has been secured from DAERA’s Rural Tourism Scheme and match funding of £562,000 agreed by the partner Councils.

Early this year, an artist led design and construction consultancy team was appointed to undertake the sculpture development and installation works. This team consists of internationally acclaimed and Copenhagen based artist Thomas Dambo, and Sperrins based McGurk Architects.  

The proposed design concept for the trail – Giants of The Sperrins- is an exciting one and is currently being refined. It seeks to showcase the epic stories associated with the Sperrins, the inspirational nature of the landscape, and the giant spirit and welcome of the people. Extensive engagement with partners, stakeholders and elected members across all three of the Councils has taken place to date, with the aim of promoting and seeking support for this unique visitor experience. The response has been overwhelmingly positive and wider public engagement is now being organised.

Rural Tourism Scheme

Agriculture Minister, Edwin Poots said, “The Rural Tourism Scheme was established in order to invest in natural and built heritage projects that can act as key drivers for encouraging rural tourism and out-of-state visitors.  We believe that investing in tourism projects in rural areas, will enable not only linkages to be made to other local attractions, but also the development of ‘tourism corridors’, which will encourage and increase visitor footfall from tourism hotspots into the great rural outdoors. 

Welcoming the progress to date on the project, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr Brian Tierney acknowledged the partnership approach in securing funding and agreeing a collaborative approach to deliver a unique tourism experience to showcase the Sperrins. He said: “This is a hugely positive initiative that not only will deliver a tourism experience that will showcase a local area of outstanding natural beauty but it will actively encourage locals and visitors alike to take part in a mix of excellent slow and activity based adventures in one of the most picturesque and historic locations on the island of Ireland.”

“The Sperrins Sculpture Trail project is a significant Rural Tourism Scheme that is bringing much needed investment and focus on the  natural and built heritage in that area so they in turn can be utilised and promoted to encourage visitors to our rural heartlands  whilst preserving the natural assets for our rural communities.”

Encouraging the public to take part in the wider public engagement event, Mayor Tierney said it was important that everyone has their say on the plans.

“In addition to this flagship tourism project attracting investment and tourism, it is a significant capital infrastructural project that will create employment and opportunities for the region. It is vitally important that everyone gets involved in this public engagement event and gives their views.”

Adding Yet Another Reason to Visit

Concurring, the Chair of Mid Ulster District Council and partner council, Councillor Cathal Mallaghan said  

“Creating a sculpture trail through the Sperrins is adding yet another reason to visit one of our most beautiful and unexplored landscapes and this is a great opportunity for local people in particular to see how plans have developed and some of the initial design ideas”.

The Chair of Fermanagh & Omagh District Council Council, Councillor Diana Armstrong said

“This is a powerful project that can lead to a truly unique sculpture trail, linking three extraordinary sites across the Sperrins.  The sculptures have the potential to encourage visitors to come and explore this stunning landscape and be a source of pride for those that live in the area. The information sessions present a great opportunity for members of the public to get involved and give their views on this unique project.”

The public information and engagement session is scheduled to take place via the online platform of webex at 7pm on Thursday 10th of June. To register your interest in receiving an online invite to the event please contact Philip McShane, Rural Tourism Officer, Derry City & Strabane District Council by emailing

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Derry City & Strabane

Mayor seeks submissions for public Thank You to frontline workers

Derry City and Strabane District Council has put a call out seeking submissions for the creation, delivery and production of piece of physical artwork or an activity aimed at acknowledging the efforts of health workers and other frontline service staff during the pandemic.

As society plans some tentative steps back towards life as we knew it pre-Covid, the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Alderman Graham Warke, is keen to show the city and district’s support and respect to key staff service staff after the difficult 2020/21 years.

This Mayoral initiative is aimed at acknowledging the commitment of workers across all frontline services and to also look ahead with hope and positivity for the future.

The theme of the initiative is one of Thanks, recognising the contribution that the frontline service staff has made, the role they played but while also remembering the hardships and suffering the community has gone through. 

Artists and community groups and initiatives are being encouraged to submit their ideas on how this can be done.

Encouraging applications, the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Alderman Graham Warke said he was looking forward to seeing a diverse range of ideas. “Basically we are seeking proposals that will link with the overall theme. It can be anything from an installation, an experience or animation that will fit the message and also showcase the artist. This is a hugely exciting project and one which I am really pleased to be involved with. I am looking forward to seeing what type of submissions we receive and to hopefully be in a position to announce details of the successful applicant later this year.”

For further details of the specification and the selection criteria for the submission and to obtain an application form and more details please email

In addition to a series of specified criteria, the budget for this initiative is set at £3,000 from the Mayor’s Budget. It is anticipated that the piece must be installed and completed during the current Mayor’s term of office.

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Derry City & Strabane

Council launches its Draft 15 year Play Plan

Holly McNeil explores the tunnel.

Derry City and Strabane District Council has today launched a draft strategy on play provision within the District area following extensive community engagement with local children, parents and groups.

The 15 year Play Plan, led by consultants at Playboard NI, establishes an ambitious strategic approach to the enhancement of play opportunities across the District and to assist the Council in achieving the goals and ambitions, it is seeking the views of the public and encouraging the wider public to take part in the consultation process.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Alderman Graham Warke said play provision across the Council area remains one of the most important issues to residents and families.

“The investment by Council to date in play and community facilities across the district has been significant and this Draft Strategy is a working document that looks to prioritise our ambitious capital and regeneration plans that set out in the Strategic Growth Plan by agreeing on a  clear and structured play plan for the next 15 years which is contingent on securing funding.”

Play Development Officer Helen Turton said: “Play is central to the lives of children and young people, contributing to the development of essential skills that support social, intellectual, physical and emotional well-being, providing a means of connecting with the wider community and critically, opportunities for fun and enjoyment. This draft strategy is an important milestone in allowing us to move to the next stage of development to allow us to deliver on key play provision facilities across the Council area.”

Helen added that the Council remains committed to fulfilling the child’s right to play as enshrined in Article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the development of this 15 year Play Plan represents a key component of this commitment.

She concluded: “In putting together the Play Plan, a number of key activities have been undertaken including an assessment of the Play Value associated with all 84 fixed play areas within the Council, an analysis of underlying demographic need and settlement patterns using Geographical Information System (GIS) software to determine fixed play coverage levels, identification of gaps in provision and redundant play areas.

“We have also undertaken extensive community engagement on the issue of play and play provision through online surveys and Local Growth Area (LGA) focus groups and we hope that the recommendations will support the enhancement of play opportunities across the Council area. We are really keen to hear the views of local people on the Play Plan and urge people to read it and give their feedback by visiting: “

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