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Build it and they will come

New and enhanced facilities helped boost visitor numbers to Newry and Mourne this summer – with the potential for further growth seemingly there for the taking. Leading the local charge are Kilbroney Park and Slieve Gullion – with the facilities attracting a combined total of over 250,000 visitors in July and August alone. Both facilities have benefited from considerable investment in recent times with the opening of new mountain bike trails at Kilbroney understood to be enticing over 5,000 users from all over Ireland a month. What’s more the Reporter has learned that between July 1 and August 28 an impressive 2,354 people passed through the gates of the recently refurbished Narrow Water Keep whilst 1,954 visitors explored Greencastle explored Greencastle in July alone. The positive figures follow a lengthy campaign by the Warrenpoint Heritage Development Committee who lobbied for the daily opening of both castles during the summer months. In a statement the group said it would keep up the pressure to ensure the delivery of enhanced visitor facilities at the attractions. “Warrenpoint Heritage Development Committee (WHDC) have for 18 months lobbied both the council (NMDC) and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) to provide this service,” a statement read. “The visitor numbers alone justify the efforts of WHDC so we are now encouraged to ask NMDC to lobby NIEA on our behalf to further develop the visitor experience as we have asked before to furnish the top floor of the Keep which was used as living quarters for the family of the commander in the way it would have been furnished in the late sixteenth century.” In additional to traditional festivals and events such as Blues on the Bay, Fiddler’s Green and Camlough Lake Water Festival, visitor numbers were this year bolstered by new and one off events such as the Newry City Triathlon and the World Police and Fiore Games, whilst in the coming weeks it is hoped that a portion of the district will be included in the route for the Irish stage of the 2014 Giro d’Italia which must make its way from Armagh City to Dublin in May. Should any of our towns and villages feature then it is likely that tens of thousands of cycling enthusiasts will descend on the area to cheer on some of the world’s greatest cyclists in one of the world’s greatest cycle races. Later this month a delegation from Warrenpoint will also travel to a major trade event in Germany in the hope of securing bookings for the visit of cruise ships to the town the first of which arrives in July 2014. In addition to bringing visitors to the region by boat it is also hoped that thousands will come by road with Newry and Mourne Council on Monday night committing itself in principle to making a 7 figure contribution to the Narrow Water Bridge Project. Proposals are also being developed to further enhance facilities at Kilbroney and Slieve Gullion with the private sector also investing heavily in the local tourism package.


Attractions in numbers: (July and August)


Kilbroney Park via car park                145,000

Slieve Gullion Adventure Facility      108,500

Bagnel’s Castle                                   5,400

Mountain Bike Trails                          10,000

Kilbroney Caravan Park                      12,000

Narrow Water Keep                            2,354

Greencastle (July only)                       1,594


Newry Reporter

4th September 2013