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Two new initiatives look set to boslter the tourism potential of Newry and Mourne  – by taking advantage of the history, heritage and scenery of the locality. Today (Wednesday April 25) Irish minister of state for tourism transport and sport will officially launch a new ‘Dublin to Carlingford and Mourne’ bus tour which will offer two tours a day from May 1 from Dublin city centre to the locality. The tour which will also pickup tourists in Drogheda and Dundalk has been put together by Carlingford and Mourne Region Ltd and Bus Eireann who will jointly market the initiative. Carlingford and Mourne’s business model is to promote the geographical area from Dundalk to Newcastle – thus taking in the entire Mourne and Cooley area. As such the basis of the tour appears to be the private sector delivering on the public sector’s proposal to establish a geopark area which would connect and market the Cooleys, Slieve Gullion and the Mournes as a single attraction. The second initiative the brainchild of Saintfield based Ballinasloe walker Alan Graham hopes to bring thousands of walkers and pilgrims through the district as part of Patrick’s Way – a coast to coast pilgrimage from Westport to Downpatrick which takes in some of the key locations visited by St Patrick during his ministry. The project which was developed in three stages (West, Mid and Northern), is also being considered for development by the Northern and Southern tourist boards. To date the greatest level of development has been on the Northern leg of the pilgrimage, which sees walkers begin in Armagh, before walking through Gosford Forest Park, Tandragee, Scarva, Canal Towpath, Newry, Warrenpoint, Rostrevor through the Mournes to Newcastle before arriving on Downpatrick via Murlough, Dundrum, Ballykinlar and Tyrella. Speaking to the Reporter Alan said that he believed that for every 1,000 walkers on the route £250,000 would be pumped into the local economy as a result of food, drink and accommodation expenditure. ” I think it will happen but it is frustrating as I have been working on it for the last 4-5 years and it is slow in coming together,” he said. “But St Patrick is a name that is known world wide and both sides of the community can relate to him. I also think pilgrims and walkers will really enjoy it as the scenery changes so quickly.” For more on St Patrick’s pilgrimage log onto www.patricksway.com


Newry Reporter

25th April 2012-05-07