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Mountain Millions

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has earmarked £2.5m in funding for our two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (ANOB) the Mourne Mountains and the Ring of Gullion. The announcement on Monday came as a major boost to the growing tourism sectors of both areas. The HLF Landscape Partnership has inspired an initial pledge of £1.5m to the Mourne Mountains while just under £1m has passed the first stage for the Ring of Gullion. While the funding is not guaranteed at this stage Newry and Mourne District Council has been awarded £6,200 to progress its plans to apply for a full grant for the Ring of Gullion while the Mourne Heritage Trust is leading the scheme for the Mournes. The money has been set aside by the HLF but competition is tough and the application for funding must be further developed. The HLF aims to protect and manage some of the UK’s most treasured landscapes and both the Mournes and the Ring of Gullion are increasingly being recognized for their true potential. Slieve Gullion for example has seen its number of visitors rocket since the completion of the forest adventure park earlier this summer. Mayor of Newry and Mourne John McArdle said the potentials for developing the Ring of Gullion were huge. “This is excellent news for the area,” the mayor said. “It is a welcome opportunity to make a significant difference to south Armagh. The landscape partnership project is really worthwhile project allowing maximum engagement with the local communities.” Ring of Gullion Officer Darren Rice said the area was a truly deserving recipient. “We are delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this support,” Mr Rice said. “This partnership will provide educational and community benefits that are of interest to everybody. The council would also like to thank everyone involved in the application, a fantastic team effort.” Paul Mullen of the HLF in the North said that the Ring of  Gullion was one of the most distinctive landscapes in Ireland and the project aimed to reconnect people and place and open up an area that has been overlooked for years with “exciting initiatives.” In reference to the Mournes Mr Mullan said the area was one of the most iconic landscapes of natural beauty in Northern Ireland and the partnership would ensure long term management and promise long term benefits for the local communities, visitors to the Mournes and the heritage of the magnificent landscape. Martin Carey CEO of the Mourne Heritage Trust said: “This funding will celebrate and significantly enhance the conservation of our natural built and cultural heritage as we look forward to engaging with the communities of Mourne through the implementation of the programme.”


Newry Reporter

25th July 2012