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Almost £1M lottery cash to boost tourism trails round Ring of Gullion

Almost £1 million has been awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund to boost tourism trails in South Armagh.

The £980,000 allocation will be spent creating new trails and training tourist guides to show off to visitors some of the area’s hidden gems.

The Heritage Lottery Fund made the grant available through its Landscape Partnership Programme to Newry and Mourne District Council and the Ring of Gullion Landscape Partnership.

HLF head Paul Mullan said the investment should help locals to enjoy and appreciate the heritage on their doorsteps and draw in more tourist trade to what he described as one of the most beautiful natural sites in western Europe.

According to the official website of the Ring of Gullion Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the project aims to conserve built and natural heritage, increase community participation in local heritage, and increase access to and learning about the landscape and its heritage.

The partnership aims to address the threats and opportunities to protect the landscape of the Ring of Gullion and raise awareness and encourage local community involvement in the historic, cultural and environmental features of the Ring of Gullion.

The partnership will create more opportunities for physical, intellectual and sensory access to the Ring of Gullion, and highlight its recreation potential, local culture and its internationally important biodiversity and geology, to ensure that high quality up-to-date training and skills required to address these are all available locally.

Darren Rice, Ring of Gullion Officer, said: “We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this support. This partnership will provide educational and community benefits that are of interest to everybody in the Ring of Gullion. The council would also like to thank everyone involved in the application – a fantastic team effort.”

It has been reported that funding will also be covered for courses for amateur natural historians, as well as those with an interest in archaeology and the heritage of the Ring of Gullion.

Newry and Armagh MLA Megan Fearon, welcoming the news of the recent Heritage Lottery Fund award, stated: “I commend all involved in the securing of this grant which will protect and preserve this area of magic myth and beauty.
“Historically, there has been and remains a severe lack of investment from the government in our area, so this grant award is welcome. 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.”

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