Ring of Gullion to benefit from £1million investment

August 25, 2014

Almost £1million investment has been made available to protect and preserve the Ring of Gullion landscape and make it more accessible to tourists, The Examiner has learned.

One of the country’s most unique areas of outstanding natural beauty, the grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) is aimed at preserving the natural wilderness of the countryside, while creating trails to allow people access parts of the historic landscape for the first time.

Working in conjunction with the Ring of Gullion Landscape Partnership, the money will also fund a comprehensive training programme and offer courses for walking leaders, budding natural historians, archaeologists and Ring of Gullion Heritage Ambassadors.

Sinn Fein MLA Megan Fearon welcomed the allocation of the funding to the south Armagh area which, she says, has habitually experienced a severe lack of government investment.

Meanwhile the Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Northern Ireland, Paul Mullan, said the investment is important as it will open up the area for public access and will contribute to the tourism industry and overall economy.

The Ring of Gullion is the remnants of huge volcanic activity about 58 million years ago with the magnificent Slieve Gullion, long celebrated in song and story as Ireland’s “Mountain of Mystery,” at its centre.

Much of the area used to be occupied by the British Army whose watchtowers dominated the landscape. These watchtowers were abandoned in 2001 and demolished thereafter.

The HLF invests heavily in conservation of distinctive landscapes and has already granted £11.8 million in Northern Ireland through its Landscape Partnerships programme.

Commenting on this latest investment, Mr Paul Mullen said: “We believe this is important and exciting work because it opens up beautiful areas for public access, helps us to conserve traditional skills and makes an important contribution to the economy, including the tourism industry.  The Ring of Gullion is one of the most significant investments to date – not least because of its huge historical and geological importance. We believe that our grant will help local people enjoy the heritage on their doorsteps and boost visitors to one of the most beautiful natural sites in western Europe.”

Welcoming the Heritage Lottery Fund contribution, Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said: “I congratulate all those who worked in partnership to achieve this positive outcome for one of our most spectacular landscapes which has been rightly designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  It should not be underestimated that our natural and built environments have the potential to generate significant economic benefits not least through tourism and to contribute to the health and wellbeing of local communities and visitors alike.”

Newry and Mourne District Council’s Mayor Daire Hughes said the awarding of the grant is “fantastic news” which will help us to conserve, restore and make our heritage accessible to all.

“This scheme will give everyone the chance to learn about and use the landscape sustainably through community activities, and training and volunteering opportunities,” he said.

Des Murphy, Chair of the Ring of Gullion Landscape Partnership Board is delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded the Ring of Gullion this grant: “The news of this grant is truly welcome. Well done to all involved in securing funding which will help our continued efforts in both sustaining and transforming the landscape and heritage of this area.”

Sinn Fein MLA Megan Fearon commended those involved in securing the grant.

“Historically there has been and remains a severe lack of investment from the government in our area, so this grant award is welcome,” she said.

“South Armagh has so much to offer in terms of tourism and as an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ is a prime location for visitors to the island of Ireland.

We have opportunities to promote the scenic beauty and history of the area. Developing our tourism industry is essential for the economic development of the area as well as for job creation, particularly for young people who are currently unemployed and potentially considering emigration.

“I am committed to working with all in looking at developing our tourism and attracting visitors so that we can continue to boost the tourism potential of the south Armagh region,” she added.

For further information on the project and to be kept updated on its progress visit