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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 philip.mcshane@derrystrabane.com

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Derry City & Strabane

Delight as Donemana Village Renewal Project Completed

Derry City & Strabane District Council Mayor Graham Warke cuts the ribbon to mark the official reopening of the Donemana Village Renewal Project.

Work has now been completed on the Donemana Village Renewal Project which included a new and improved outdoor space in the village.

The work carried out has seen the installation of an outdoor garden with seating, raised beds, and planting as well as a small kickabout area with artificial grass and a goal wall including a basketball hoop. It also includes new steps to improve access to the outside area.

It was the fourth and final of a series of Small Parks Village Renewal Projects carried out by Derry City and Strabane District Council, with other projects completed in Artigarvan, Ardstraw and Drumahoe.

In Artigarvan and Ardstraw there were upgrades to play areas, with new equipment for each including a wheelchair accessible ground flush roundabout, basket swing and zip line, as well as landscaping improvements, while, in Drumahoe, an improved access pathway, adult exercise equipment, landscaping and signage was installed.

The combined cost of the four projects was £200,000 and they were delivered by Derry City and Strabane District Council with support from funding allocated by Derry and Strabane Rural Partnership under Priority 6 (LEADER) of the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and the European Union.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Graham Warke, who is also the Chair of the Derry and Strabane Rural Partnership (LAG), said the completion of the project is fantastic news for Donemana and for the Drummond Centre Project after some challenging years.

“I’m absolutely delighted to visit Donemana and to see this work first-hand which provides a great space for the Drummond Centre Project and the Donemana community to enjoy.

“The green space ties in with our Council commitment within the Green Infrastructure Plan, and the recreational facilities are a space for young people to get some exercise in while socialising with friends.

“Facilities like this are so important for our rural communities and following the flooding of the original Drummond Centre Project’s premises in 2017 this is certainly a massive and well-deserved step forward for them.

“As Mayor and as Chair of the Derry and Strabane Rural Partnership it is my pleasure to attend the official opening of these new facilities and I want to wish the Drummond Centre Project and everyone in Donemana well as they enjoy this wonderful space.”

David Buchanan, The Drummond Centre, added: “This is a great day for everyone here in Donemana and for ourselves at The Drummond Centre Project.

“We have experienced a lot of ups and downs over the past few years so to have this facility now complete is a very positive achievement. It’s a space that we know will be so deeply appreciated and well-used by our young people and by everyone within the village.”

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Derry City & Strabane

Advice and Support Available as Part of Alcohol Awareness Week

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Graham Warke, has said being aware of recommended limits and the effects of alcohol, and education around the potential dangers of alcohol, is extremely important.

The message comes as part of Alcohol Awareness Week, which takes place from Monday 14th to Sunday 20th June. It is supported by the Public Health Agency and the five Drug and Alcohol Coordination Teams and centres around encouraging people to take a closer look at their drinking habits by counting their units to see if they’re staying within the recommended weekly limits.

Mayor Warke said that taking some time to evaluate personal alcohol consumption is recommended.

“Many people like to enjoy alcohol in moderation, but sometimes it can be very easy to find yourself consuming more than is recommended without even realising.

“This can have a negative impact on both mental and physical health, so it’s hugely important that everyone consuming alcohol is aware of the legal age, the recommended limits and is checking in on how that measures up with their own habits.

“The stresses and challenges of the past 16 months, and how much we have all been staying at home, may have led to some people drinking more alcohol than they typically would have before, so Alcohol Awareness Week this year is a particularly good opportunity to pick up a few helpful tips on how you can make small changes that will have a big difference in ensuring you can enjoy alcohol safely and in moderation.”

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