On Thursday 26th September the Ring of Gullion Landscape Partnership and its supporters descended on Killeavy Castle Estate to celebrate the Ring of Gullion Landscape Partnership Scheme. The event marked the end of the ‘delivery phase’ of the Scheme and welcomed in the ‘10-year legacy phase’, due to kick-off in January 2020 and run until December 2030.
Throughout the day, the Scheme’s funders, participants and supporters were presented with a series of performances, talks and videos, showcasing the achievements over the past five years.
In 2014, after an 18-month development phase with various stakeholders, the Ring of Gullion Landscape Partnership was awarded £900,000 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, which increased to a total of £1.4 million through match funding from Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and several smaller funders. During the scheme, the Partnership seized funding opportunities and secured an additional £533,000 for extra projects such as ASCENT and the Bessbrook Project. An additional €2 million has been secured for the Atlantic CultureScapes project, €500,000 of which will be invested in the Newry, Mourne and Down District, and will play a fundamental role in the legacy of the Landscape Partnership.
“The vision for the Landscape Partnership was to raise awareness and encourage a focus on the landscape, the beauty and distinctiveness of its natural features and cultural heritage. The Ring of Gullion landscape was to be improved, restored and more fully appreciated through positive landscape management.” said Des Murphy, Chairperson of the Ring of Gullion Landscape Partnership Board. “The Landscape Partnership has achieved this in a wide variety of ways and formed strong and lasting links with local communities. I am very proud of all the work accomplished by the team and everyone involved.”
The Landscape Partnership has achieved this vision through developing the area for locals and visitors alike by:
- developing new trails such as the Sensory Trail at Slieve Gullion Forest Park and a wildlife trail at Fr. Barney King Woods in Glassdrummond, making a difference to those people who live there, and for children with sensory processing disorders;
- installing innovative U-Turn Around audio interpretation at Camlough view point and Victoria Locks, which tells different stories of the area in Irish and English for locals and visitors;
- creating informative walking guides and biodiversity booklets to increase awareness of the area’s heritage;
- providing training for local people to become Ambassadors for the area, or improving their wildlife identification skills or how to manage wooded areas in a sustainable way, to name a few; and
- establishing a summer Lúnasa Festival and a Winter Solstice Festival packed full of events showcasing the wonderful landscape and heritage of the Ring of Gullion area.”
“The Ring of Gullion Landscape Partnership has been a real boost to the area” said Charlie Casey, Chairperson of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, “I am happy to see that it has augmented the work of other Council departments to enable the Ring of Gullion to transform from a little-known area to a must-see visitor region. It’s not hard to see why visitors would want to come to this beautiful area, it has a wealth of archaeological features, an award-winning forest park and of course, Ireland’s most mystical mountain steeped in mythology. I look forward to what the Partnership will do in the next phase.”
Sheila McClelland, NI Committee Member of The National Lottery Heritage Fund added, “We have made significant investments into some of the most amazing landscapes in NI and we were thrilled to add the Ring of Gullion to that list back in 2014. The geological and historical importance of the area made it a prime location for the Landscape Partnership scheme and National Lottery players funding. We’ve been absolutely delighted to watch the team, board and volunteers transform the area and deliver a wide range of creative and engaging activities. We hope the Ring of Gullion Landscape Partnership and the wider area continues to go from strength to strength for many years to come, aided by the 10-year legacy phase and we congratulate everyone involved.”
The project delivery will complete on the 30th December 2019, and the legacy phase will start. The legacy has always been in the DNA of this project, and the Atlantic CultureScape project is already operational, as a direct result of the Landscape Partnership Scheme. The legacy will also ensure that all the infrastructure put in place is well maintained; community relationships with the Partnership are continued and that there will be outcomes for people, communities and heritage for another decade.
If you would like to view a video showcasing the work of the Ring of Gullion Landscape Partnership over the last five years, or to view more images of the Celebration event click here.