The Ring of Gullion played host to a delegation from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) at the weekend. NITB were keen to visit the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in order for them to sell the area to potential tourists. Una Walsh guided the tour around South Armagh, and there were representatives from each department of NITB and staff from the Belfast Welcome Centre and the NITB offices in Dublin.
After seeing a living history presentation in Bagenals Castle the guests were given a pack with brochures highlighting all the tourist attractions in Newry and Mourne. McNamees Bakery, from Crossmaglen, gave each one of the delegates a famous family traditional wheaten loaf fresh from their bakery to take home too.
Impressed by what they had seen so far, Craigmore Viaduct, Bessbrook Village, Camlough Lake, the group was eager to learn more about the area. At about 12pm the coach pulled up at Creggan Grave Yard, Una Walsh said, “If there is one place you must see in South Armagh it would be Creggan Graveyard, everyone from all walks of life is buried here.” The group made their way to the O’Neills vault where Art McCooey reputedly wrote Úr-Chill an Chreagáin. Pupils from St Patrick’s Primary School in Cullyhanna recited the poem for the group. Darren Rice, Ring of Gullion Officer, said “To hear McCooey’s Poem brought back to life, over 200 hundred years after it was penned, was very moving.” He added, “The Tourist Board were charmed by the performance.”
After visting Annaghmare Court Tomb, arguably the best preserved court tomb in Ireland, we headed to Crossmaglen for lunch. The Cross Square Hotel provided excellent service and food. Newry and Mourne Mayor, Charlie Casey said, “I am delighted to welcome NITB staff to Newry and Mourne and it’s a great opportunity to build upon the relationship we have developed with the Tourist Board over the years.”
All the staff from NITB enjoyed the tour so much many of them plan to revisit the Ring of Gullion with their friends and Family. For more information on what’s on, including coach trips, attractions and places to eat and stay in the Ring of Gullion and South Armagh visit: www.ringofgullion.org, ‘Like’ and ‘Follow’ Ring of Gullion on Facebook and Twitter or visit www.visitnewryandmourne.com and www.south-armagh.com.