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Seaside village plans ‘unique, immersive Narnia experience’ to attract CS Lewis fans worldwide

£55,300 secured to help raise profile of author's connectors with magical Mournes and Rostrevor

A seaside village’s close connections with Narnia creator CS Lewis are to be used to draw international fans of the legendary writer to the area.

The Chronicles of Narnia writer spent boyhood holidays in Rostrevor.

And while Newry, Mourne and Down District Council – in partnership with the Mourne Heritage Trust – has already successfully delivered a range of projects associated with Narnia and Lewis at Kilbroney Park, much more is now being planned.

The council and trust have now secured over £55,300 to invest from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The money has been granted to help raise the profile of links that the author had with the Mourne area and how the magical mountain landscape fired his imagination as a child on holiday.

Among the plans – to be outlined to the council’s enterprise, regeneration and tourism committee on Monday – are to create a “unique, immersive Narnia experience”.

The council hopes to use a house within Kilbroney Forest Park in Rostrevor, previously the warden’s residence but vacant now for the past three years.

It is described as “ideally situated within the reception compound”, the compound providing all information on services at Kilbroney and also a key point for the existing Narnia Trail.

The old warden’s residence would be used to provide video and interpretation around the Narnia story and would be the “starting point of organised experience activity”.

While CS Lewis famously wrote of a wardrobe as a portal to Narnia, the council also hopes to develop a “web based portal which raises the profile of the Narnia brand, reaching out to CS Lewis fans locally and internationally”.

The hope also is to train local service providers to be ‘Narnia ambassadors’, so they can share their local cultural heritage and creating a strong sense of place.

They will also explore linking and sharing with sites in Belfast associated with CS Lewis.

All of the recommendations will go to the committee on Monday.

But the goal at this stage is for the project to get underway in November this year, with a target completion and all up and running by March 2020.

Meanwhile, the annual Narnia Festival in Rostrevor will take place Friday – Sunday, November 16-18.

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