To mark its reopening after a period of closure due to the pandemic, Down County Museum is organising a series of guided walks. The walks will take visitors around sites associated with crime and punishment in the past, and the history of gaols in Downpatrick.
The museum is located in the 18th century gaol of Down and includes in its exhibitions many of the stories of prisoners incarcerated there between 1796 and 1830. The museum also has a wealth of information relating to the other gaol sites in the town from Castle Dorras, which stood at the junction of what are now English Street and Church Street, to the House of Correction adjacent to the Courthouse, and the ‘new’ Gaol at the site of the present day Down High School, as well as the Courthouse itself. If you would like to hear more about debtors, capitally convicted prisoners, child prisoners and the many colourful characters who once inhabited these sites then these guided walks may be for you.
Learn about how James Smith, sentenced to death at 14 for forgery, became a wealthy business man in Australia; follow in the steps of rebels who ‘turned out’ in 1798; discover whether the ‘world’s oldest married couple’ had been convicts at the old gaol, and learn something of the fascinating history of juries of matrons.
The guided walks take place on 16 and 30 July and 13 and 20 August, departing from the museum at 11am. They are suitable for adults and children over nine years-old and will follow all social distancing measures. Numbers are limited, admission is £5 per person, and places must be pre-booked by contacting the museum on 0330 137 4049.
The Chairperson of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, Councillor Cathy Mason, said, “I am delighted to see Down County Museum reopening and while it may take some time for all of our programmes and event to restart, these guided, outdoors walks are a great way of involving visitors in our rich history. The stories of the prisoners and gaolers in Downpatrick’s gaols are fascinating and these walks are sure to be popular.”
Ballyvea Football Club to Kick-off New Season with £360K Community Hub
Ballyvea Football Club in Kilkeel, Co.Down will be kicking off the new football season with a state of the art modern community hub following a grant of £270,000 from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs’ (DAERA) Rural Development Programme (RDP).
The official opening of the new community hub took place on Friday 23 July 2021, with Minister Poots visiting this week to see the facility and all it has to offer the local community. The hub will allow for the delivery of social and economic development activities aimed at addressing underachievement and social isolation, and marginalisation amongst young people and the elderly.
Welcoming the funding award and completion of the new building, Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots said: “I am delighted that Ballyvea Football Club were awarded £270,000 under the current Rural Development Programme to build a facility that will provide services and activities for the local rural community in Kilkeel.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank the volunteers connected to the club, and all members of the Local Action Group, for the time they have given up to make great projects like this come alive, and I wish Ballyvea every success both on and off the field.”
Councillor Roisin Mulgrew said: “As Chair of the Mourne, Gullion and Lecale Rural Development Partnership, I am delighted to see the completion of this impressive facility which has availed of Rural Development funding, provided by DAERA and the European Union. The volunteers involved in the Local Action Group continue to work tirelessly to ensure local decisions made by local representatives, bring high quality projects such as this to fruition.”
Trevor McConnell, Chairman of Ballyvea FC commented: “The financial support provided by DAERA, the European Union and the local council through the assistance of the Local Action Group has been instrumental in providing a high quality community hub that will provide a range of services to the local community. We are delighted to have worked closely with Mourne, Gullion and Lecale Rural Development Partnership to develop the project to provide such a vital facility for all rural dwellers and extend our gratitude to all they have done to assist us through the process.”
Councillor Cathy Mason, Chairperson of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council reflected on the project stating: “This is a fantastic example of how working in partnership can deliver a facility which is a real asset for the local area and will continue to be for many years to come. I would like to commend the Local Action Group and wish Ballyvea FC all the very best in their future endeavours.”
Training Opportunities for Rural Residents
Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots MLA, today delivered an economic boost for rural residents in the Newry, Mourne & Down and Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Council areas when he launched the £65,000 Prosper + Project.
The Project, which has been developed in conjunction with the Southern Regional College (SRC), operates on the basis on two Strands. Strand one offers mentoring support and Strand two provides accredited training for economically inactive and low paid workers living within rural areas. DAERA has provided funding of £65,000 for the project, from the Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation Programme, while SRC meets the administration costs.
Minister Poots said: “Training opportunities are particularly hard to find in rural areas and the problem has been exacerbated by the impact of Covid-19. To this end Prosper is a big success story, delivering mentoring opportunities for 100 young people from rural post primary schools in Banbridge, Crossmaglen, Newtownhamilton and Tandragee areas engaged in the SRC Schools’ Partnership Programme and accredited training for a further 70 unemployed and low paid workers across the region.
“This project is an excellent example of DAERA working with other public sector bodies to deliver benefits for rural communities.”
Economy Minister Paul Frew added his support for the initiative. He said: “My Department is currently undertaking a consultation on a new Skills Strategy for Northern Ireland, ‘Skills for a 10x Economy’. One of the Strategy’s key objectives is to help those furthest from the workplace to re-engage with the labour market and so I very much welcome DAERA’s Prospect + Project, which provides opportunities to help people improve their skills and increase their employability.”