Category Archives: Tyrone & Sperrins News

Mayor encourages walkers to register now for 2017 Sperrins and Killeter Walking Festival

Walkers of all ages and abilities will be heading for the hills and exploring the local hinterland when the Sperrins and Killeter Walking Festival returns on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th September 2017.

The popular festival, organised by Derry City and Strabane District Council in conjunction with local adventure company Far and Wild, will host a total of six walks over the two days, ranging from easy family friendly strolls to moderate treks and challenging hill walks all led by professional walking guides.

Speaking ahead of the event, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Maolíosa McHugh, said it was the perfect opportunity to showcase the majestic local landscape to visitors and locals alike.

“The Sperrins and Killeter Walking Festival has firmly established itself as a key date on the national walking calendar offering walkers the opportunity to get off the beaten track and discover the beautiful scenery our district has to offer,” he said.

“It is an inclusive event where everyone from the novice walker  to experienced hikers are catered for and I am particularly pleased that there is an emphasis on encouraging young people to get out into the fresh air and learn more about their local area. I would encourage as many people as possible to sign up for the walks, the event plays a key role in promoting our area as a destination for walking visitors from all over Ireland and beyond but also in heightening local people’s awareness of the nature and scenery on their doorstep.”

The festival begins with an early 6am start at the Pedestrian Bridge at the Melvin Sports Centre in Strabane on Saturday September 16th when the 4km long Easy ‘Dawn Chorus’ Walk will allow walkers of all levels to explore Strabane’s captivating greenway along the River Mourne to Sion Mills.

Later that morning the Sawel Challenge at 9am will take more experienced walkers on a 12km hike through some of the highest peaks of the Sperrins before the Balix and Beyond 8km walk will allow more moderate ability walkers along a natural heritage site that links into the Murlough, Hollyhill and Legfordrum areas.

On Sunday the action moves to the scenic landscape of Killeter where experienced local guides will impart their knowledge about the ecology, history and folklore of this wild and remote part of West Tyrone.

At 9am the ‘Challenging the International Reach of the Killeter Camino’ walk from Killeter village will explore the international heritage links of the local area to the Camino de Santiago and the International Appalachian Trail.

Later that morning the Water of Life walk will offer the opportunity to trace the flow of the River Derg and surrounding lakes as a life giving watercourse through Killeter and beyond.

Finally the family friendly Pilgrim Trail from Killeter Village to Magherakeel and St Patrick’s Well will offer the opportunity to explore the old local route to Lough Derg where a host of local wild life including the Red Hare, Sparrow Hawks, Peregrine Falcons and the Irish Otter may be spotted.

The Killeter Walks will begin at Killeter Community Hall while the meeting point for the Glenelly Walks is Watts Barr in Plumbridge.

Registration for the Sperrins and Killeter Walking Festival is open now at where full details of each walk are available.

Fast track Council course offers preparation for careers in hospitality, retail and tourism

Derry City and Strabane District Council are seeking fresh applications for the summer intake of an innovative programme that helps prepare local unemployed people for a career in the hospitality, retail and tourism sectors within just five weeks.

The Hospitality and Retail, Tourism Training for Employment course (HARTE) is part of Council’s Kickstart to Work programme and aims to provide candidates with the qualifications, skills and confidence to successfully apply for jobs in those sectors.

The course aims to break down the barriers that unemployed people often face in applying for positions in the local job market by offering them pre-employment training to equip them with the necessary skills to make a successful job application. During the course Kickstart will offer financial support for expenses such as childcare, travel, subsistence and uniforms.

The course is split into three sections: a vocational training programme at the North West Regional College, an award in employability and a two week work placement before offering candidates a guaranteed interview with local employers.
Mena Kearney, Job Brokerage Officer with Derry City and Strabane District Council, said the course will provide applicants with the necessary qualifications and skills to take up a career in either hospitality, retail or tourism.

“This course is aimed at unemployed or economically inactive people in the Council area who are more than capable of pursuing a career in these sectors but who may need some guidance and support to make their aspirations a reality,” she said.

“As well as providing industry led accredited training and work experience, help and support candidates will also be offered assistance with job searching, CV preparation and interview skills to enhance their chances of securing future employment.

“Some candidates may not have been part of a training programme for some time and they will find the one to one mentoring that is provided as part of the course particularly helpful.

“We aim to breakdown all the barriers that are holding people back from returning to training and employment.

“The summer intake of the course may be particularly suitable to single parents as childcare will be paid for while you complete the course.”

Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Kickstart to Work aims to provide training, skills development and job opportunities to unemployed people who reside in the Council area by delivering a range of industry specific courses.
Eligible candidates must be unemployed / economically inactive and reside within the Council area.

Further details of the HARTE course is available by calling the Kickstart team on 028 71 308466 or emailing


First Citizens “Get on Board” the European Capital of Culture 2023 campaign


The joint bid by Belfast City Council and Derry City and Strabane District Council to secure the European Capital of Culture title for 2023 was endorsed today when the First Citizen of both cities boarded the Belfast to Derry~Londonderry 212 bus to officially encourage people to have their say and get behind the bid.

Earlier in the day, the Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Nuala McAllister welcomed Derry City and Strabane District Council Mayor Councillor Maolíosa McHugh to Belfast City Hall, before travelling to Derry for the launch event in the Guildhall.

Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Nuala McAllister says securing European Capital of Culture status would be a major coup for both cities, bringing not only a diverse programme of arts and cultural events with a strong European dimension, but the opportunity to deliver a range of positive outcomes including strong collaborative working between both cities, strengthening our European links, boosting tourism and growing the economy.

She said: “This joint bid is a fantastic opportunity for us to work together on a project that will benefit everyone. It’s our chance to renew civic pride, put both our cities on the map,  showcase and celebrate our cultural excellence, strengthen European connections and act as a catalyst for real change and growth.”

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr Maolíosa McHugh says input from the public is an essential part of the bid process. “What we need now is for people in both council areas to get involved by telling us what matters to them and what they would like to see included in the bid. We’ll actively be going out there and speaking with people so that we can build authentic and meaningful themes for our submission. We know there’s a powerful story to be shared and we want everyone to be part of it.”

Earlier this year, Belfast City Council and Derry City and Strabane District Council announced plans to submit a joint bid for the European Capital of Culture title for 2023. The European Capital of Culture (ECoC) is an annual designation awarded by European Commission to nations inside and outside of the EU. Since it launched in 1985, 56 cities have hosted the title including two in the UK – Glasgow in 1990 and Liverpool in 2008. Dublin held the title in 1991, Cork in 2005 and Galway will be Capital of Culture in 2020. In 2023 the two countries hosting the title will be UK and Hungary.

Suzanne Wylie, Chief Executive of Belfast City Council says collaborative working between the two councils is a key element to the joint bid process. “Both councils have been working together through a process that will gather the information for the bid document by engaging with our communities.  We’ll use that information to help us develop a cultural programme with a strong European dimension. We’re delighted to have the two councils working closely together on such an important project that if successful, will bring real benefits for both cities and the wider region.”

John Kelpie, Chief Executive of Derry City and Strabane District Council says that the joint bid puts the two cities and the wider region in a very strong position going forward. “This bid strengthens the collaborative working between the two councils and supports both cities in their roles as regional and sub regional economic and social drivers. The timing of this bid is perfect as we gather momentum on the delivery of our Strategic Growth Plans that have identified the importance of culture for social and economic transformation. I have no doubt that this bid will galvanise people to connect with each other and to celebrate our cultural identities across Europe and the world.”

The bid team will be actively engaging with the public over the coming weeks and months seeking views and opinions and finding out what the general public want to see from European Capital of Culture status.

The deadline for submission of the first joint bid document is 27 October 2017.  If successful, a revised bid submission will be submitted and the team will embark on further public engagement, with the final bid to be completed by the summer of 2018 and the winner announced later in 2018.

For more information on the engagement programme go to and or email or

Strabane retailers mark their independence with five day celebration

Strabane shoppers answered the call of local businesses at the weekend by coming out in force to support the Stars and Stripes Independent Retailers Celebration in the town.

The joint initiative by Derry City and Strabane District Council, the Strabane Business Improvement District and Strabane Town Forum hosted a series of special events and promotions to mark Independence Day in America by celebrating the success of famous local independent traders and encouraging consumers to make a particular effort to shop local.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Maolíosa McHugh, officially launched the celebrations at the Strabane Market last Friday where he expressed his hope that the initiative would continue the long tradition of entrepreneurial success in the town.

“It is particularly apt for our local business people to mark Independence Day in America because one of our most famous entrepreneurs, John Dunlap, was the printer of the first copies of the United States Declaration of Independence,” he noted.

“It is often difficult for local independent retailers to compete with major multinational organisations but they play a key role in generating jobs and prosperity in our area and they can only keep doing that with the support of the public.

“This Stars and Stripes Independent Retailers Celebration is a fantastic way of getting that message out there and encouraging consumers to make a conscious effort to shop local and support the town.”

The celebrations began last Friday with the Strabane Market at the Alley Theatre Courtyard which included kids entertainment from balloon modeller of Britain’s Got Talent fame Ryan Tracey and animated characters.

Other events over the weekend included free tours of Gray’s Printers Museum, a public reading of the Declaration of Independence in the Alley Theatre Courtyard and live music by The Pulse Centre in Strabane Town Centre.


Fun and qualifications on offer as Council seek fresh Angling course applicants

Derry City and Strabane District Council’s popular Kickstart 2 Work Angling course is seeking a new batch of applicants for later in the summer.

The course at the Loughs Agency in Prehen is part of the Maritime Ambassador Programme and offers unemployed people living in the Council area the opportunity to learn the skills of fishing while gaining an industry recognised qualification as an Assistant Angling Course.

The free course has been successfully running since 2015 and can be completed within five days in a relaxed, fun environment with people from a range of abilities.

Project Officer for the Maritime Ambassador Programme at Derry City and Strabane District Council, Geraldine O hEara, encouraged local unemployed people interested in doing the course to make contact now to secure their place.

“The Angling course is a great way to learn a new skill in a sociable environment while enhancing your employability at the same time and the warmer climate in the summer months means this is a particularly good time to complete it,” she said,

“We are blessed with a number of beautiful, popular rivers and loughs in and around our council area, so the opportunity to get to know these while learning new practical angling skills in the beautiful surroundings of the Loughs Agency under the watchful supervision of experienced coaches, is a great opportunity.

“We welcome applicants of any level, for those with no previous experience of fishing, participants will receive full training to achieve beginner level ‘CAST’ qualifications with the option to progress on to becoming a qualified Assistant Angling Coach.

“Places in the course are limited so I’d encourage anyone interested to get in touch now to express their interest.”
To be eligible for the training you must be over 18, unemployed, reside in the Council area and not enrolled in any other education or training.

For more information on how to apply for the course contact Geraldine O hEara at 028 71 308466


Ulster Rally set to return to Walled City

A host of Rally stars joined organisers and special guests at the historic Guildhall Square, Londonderry, for the launch of the 2017 John Mulholland Motors Ulster Rally. Returning to Derry City and Strabane for the second year promises both competitors and race fans an action packed weekend of motorsport throughout Derry and Strabane on Friday 18 and Saturday 19 August 2017.

This year the Rally welcomes contenders from the FIA European Rally Trophy (Celtic Cup), the MSA Prestone British Rally Championship and the Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac Rally Championship. Stages again feature the full breadth of Counties Londonderry and Tyrone with two regroups, one in Derry/Londonderry’s Guild Hall Square on Friday and the other in Strabane Town Centre on Saturday of the event.

John Mulholland Motors Ulster Rally Event Director, Robert Harkness is excited about returning to the Maiden City for this year’s event;

“It is an honour to be returning to such a prestigious venue as the Guild Hall to launch the second year of the John Mulholland Motors Ulster Rally in this historic City. We have the ideal event base at Ebrington Square with two new regroups this year in Derry and Strabane and a host of classic and challenging stages throughout the region”.

“But it’s not just the venue and stages that make these events, the stars of the event are the drivers, co-drivers and their cars and this year’s Ulster Rally promises a fantastic array of machinery crossing the start ramp in the Guildhall Square at lunchtime on Friday 18 August. We have a great selection of local competitors, many of them young and some very young, who are already making their mark in the sport. Callum Devine, Marty Gallagher and Gordon Noble venture successfully well outside Ireland; we also have Alan Atcheson, Joe McGonigle and Eathan McColgan. And what about our motorcycle racer Michael Dunlop who is now firmly caught up in rallying ?

We welcome the MSA Prestone British Rally Championship back to the Ulster Rally stages and we are looking forward to the battle for supremacy between the R5 cars in the British series and the Irish Tarmac Championship regulars. We are hopeful that our local home-grown talent will again be fighting for pole position in their respective categories in all the major championships included in this year’s event.

Robert continues; “It’s great returning to a venue for the second year and this which could only be made possible by our sponsors Derry City and Strabane District Council and John Mulholland Motors, along with Tourism NI and Visit Derry, our local stage sponsors and the 800 volunteers who give of their time so generously. The plan’s in place to make 2017 the best event yet.”

Headline Sponsor, John Mulholland Motors is based in Randalstown and Campsie and John himself was one of the first to put in his entry for this year’s event.

“This is our second year of a three-year agreement as main sponsors of the Ulster Rally, an event I have been competing in since 1994.

This year is extra special for us as it marks my 25th anniversary of participation in this iconic motorsport event. To celebrate I will be behind the wheel of a new Skoda Fabia R5 sporting a black and gold livery in recognition of us wining the UK Skoda retailer of the year (for the second time).”

Welcoming the event back to the City is Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Maolíosa McHugh; “I am absolutely delighted that the Rally organisers have teamed up with our local club – Maiden City Motor Club – to bring this prestigious sporting event to the North West region for the second year in a row. It’s also great to have our local sponsor, John Mulholland from Campsie on board once again.

In terms of economic benefit for the city and region, the John Mulholland Motors Ulster Rally will have a huge impact in terms of bringing visitors to the City who will stay locally and hopefully spend money at our local restaurants, shops and bars. We are confident the Rally will create a great buzz and excitement across Derry and Strabane throughout the month of August.

Entries for the event are now open and the organisers, The Northern Ireland Motor Club Ltd anticipate a top line up of local and International competitors and a host of the frontrunners from the various Irish and Northern Ireland Rally Championships. Also included in this year’s Ulster Rally programme is the popular Historic section and the recently introduced Junior category.

Rally Guide is available to download from the competitors section of the website

For latest news and updates on the events, check out the website or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @ulsterrally


Council seek public’s input on arts and culture strategy

Derry City and Strabane District Council have launched a consultation process to allow interested parties to have an input in shaping the region’s arts and culture strategy for the next five years.

A Co-Design group of local representatives from a range of arts and culture disciplines has already been formed to assist Council officers and strategic partners on the development of the strategy.

The group held its first meeting at the Ulster Bank offices in the City last week and will now host a series of workshops from Monday June 26th until Wednesday June 28th.

The sessions are inviting individual artists, practitioners, organisations and venues to give their input for the strategy for 2017-2022 that will be finalised in September.

John Kerr, Arts and Culture Manager with Derry City and Strabane District Council, encouraged anyone with an interest in arts and culture in the city to take ownership of the process by attending the workshops.

“This is an ideal opportunity for anyone working or with an interest in our local arts and culture sector to tell us their vision and help shape a strong and ambitious strategy for the years ahead,” he said.

“The informed contribution we receive at these workshops is essential if we are to design a strategy that allows us to fully realise our arts and culture potential and compliments our wider Community Plan for the Council area.

“The strategy aims to build upon the legacy of the 2013 UK City of Culture Year by encouraging a culture of collaboration and articulating a clear direction of travel for a strong and ambitious arts and culture sector within the North West.

“It will reflect and support the ambitions of Council and its partners in the pursuit of world class designations such as European City of Culture status.”

The Co-Design group is chaired by Verbal Arts Chief Executive James Kerr who said he was looking forward to the process of working with Council and other interested parties on how best to take the City and District’s Arts and Culture strategy forward.
“The establishment of a Co-Design group by Derry City & Strabane District Council to develop an Arts & Culture strategy that supports and contributes to the wider Community plan is an exciting new initiative,” he said.

“The main legacy of the City of Culture in 2013 was a general recognition that Arts & Culture can and will play a significant role in the social and economic life of the City & District.

“This open, accessible Co-Design process is a fantastic opportunity for everyone who has an interest in arts and culture to contribute to the next stage of local development.

“I am delighted to Chair the Co-Design group which represents a wide range of views and expertise and look forward to working with the Council and all interested parties to develop an Arts & Culture strategy which will set out a dynamic view of creative activity for the next 5 years.”

The full list of workshop dates, times and venues is available online at Sessions will include the following sectors: Participatory/Community Arts including Circus Carnival and Street Arts, Individual Artists and Practitioners, Music, Visual Arts, Crafts and Cinematic Arts, Literature, Community Festivals, Tier Two Festivals and Events, Arts and Cultural Venues (Various), Drama, Performing Arts and Dance, Heritage and Museums.

Anyone wishing to get involved are asked to confirm their attendance indicating which workshop they will be attending by e mailing


Public urged to have their say on vital plans for Derry City & Strabane District

The public consultation for the draft Strategic Growth Plan and the Local Development Plan Preferred Options Paper is well underway, and people are reminded that further information sessions will be taking place throughout June.

The strategies are the result of an extensive campaign of public engagement and everyone can have a say in how they now take shape by providing their feedback at a series of public meetings or online.

The Strategic Growth Plan is the City and District’s Community Plan which sets out the long-term vision for the development and improvement of the social, economic and environmental well-being of the DCSDC area.

The Local Development Plan Preferred Options Paper sets out the Council’s initial proposals and policy direction, hopefully stimulating public feedback and comment and helping interested parties to become involved in a more meaningful way at this earliest stage of Plan preparation.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Maolíosa McHugh, urged local people to read both strategies and to consider their potential impact on the City and District going forwards. “Community Planning is a new power for Council and one which we must properly utilise, working with our partners to drive positive change across all areas of the district. The Local Development Plan will assist the delivery of the Strategic Growth Plan by guiding development and encouraging investment, co-ordinating infrastructure for our people and protecting our environment to beyond 2032

“These strategies map the way forward until 2032, so it’s important that we ensure at the planning stage that they reflect the genuine needs and aspirations of all those who live in our community. This will give us a strong platform on which we can base the successful delivery of both the Strategic Growth Plan and its spatial realisation in the LDP.”

Head of Planning with Council, Maura Fox, said: “We hope that the Preferred Options Paper for the LDP will stimulate public debate and feedback as we seek to develop a comprehensive and fit-for-purpose development framework for the sustainable development of the District.

“The public meetings provide the opportunity for everyone – not just industry experts – to come along and give their views on the options laid out in the paper, and to have a direct influence on how we shape the future development of our District.”

A series of events are now taking place throughout the month to give the public more insight into both reports and to gauge their views. These meetings are being held at a variety of venues across the District Electoral Areas during both afternoons and evenings to give everyone with an interest the opportunity to attend.

To find out more about the public consultation roadshow events in your area, see the press advertisements and information at the Council Offices, public buildings and social media. For further details, go to

To read the full digital copy of the draft Community Plan, go to

To read the Preferred Options Paper for the Local Development Plan and contribute your views, go to


Summer Jamm a huge success in Strabane

‘Summer Jamm’ took over Strabane at the weekend as large crowds attended events from Friday 9th until Sunday 11th June. The event brought the best of rock, pop, country, Irish folk and brass music to town alongside family friendly events, a local market, arts and crafts and workshops throughout the three day festival.

Thousands turned out over the long weekend to enjoy the events, which were organised by Derry City and Strabane District Council and supported by SGN Natural Gasand the Strabane Business Improvement District (BIDS).

The year’s celebrations featured Strabane’s finest brass bands, a country music festival and an outdoor music festival featuring top acts such as; The Blizzards, Ryan McMullan, Roisin O, David James, Cliona Hagan and Johnny Brady.

The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Maolíosa McHugh, joined crowds around town on Saturday afternoon. He said, “I was delighted to attend the Summer Jamm celebrations in Strabane. As one of my first engagements as Mayor it was a great opportunity to meet the people of Strabane and those visiting the town for festival.

“Council is dedicated to providing high quality, family friendly events to ensure people of all ages can enjoy them. It was great to see crowds out enjoying and supporting the festival programme and what a way start to our summer season. The town was transformed with music, song and dance throughout the weekend and I was glad to see so many young people involved in the festival and hear everyone was enjoying it. I would like to congratulate and thank all the event sponsors, those who organised the event and of course everyone who took part.”

There were lots of free events and activities throughout the weekend with street entertainers, market stalls, live music and kid’s zones. Local talent was also out in force to compete in the annual busking competition, organised by Martin Gallen of the Strabane Chamber of Commerce. The competition offered a top prize of £1000, won by ’1980 Something’, and second and third prizes of £400 and £200.

Michael Kelly, Strabane BID Company who provided Summer Jamm’s Saturday evening concert said BID in Strabane was delighted to provide high profile acts for the concert, she added, “We are very pleased with the feedback we have received on Saturday night’s concert. To attract acts such as The Blizzards, Roisin O and Ryan McMullan to perform was a real coup for us and we were delighted to bring an event of this scale to the town to help develop our tourism potential and inevitably build our local economy. This year’s festival is hopefully the start of a showpiece annual event for Strabane, we’re already excited for what Summer Jamm 2018 will bring!”

Darren Young, Head of Business Development at SGN Natural Gas said; ‘This summer marks a significant milestone in the Gas to the West development as we will soon be connecting our first domestic customer. Getting involved in the Summer Jamm has been a great way to celebrate this achievement.’

‘We are delighted to be actively involved in local events such as the Summer Jamm which highlights our commitment to the Strabane area. We very much look forward to supporting this event next year and have every confidence it will further build on the success of this year.’

Mr Young concluded ‘Residents in Strabane wishing to be updated on Gas to the West can find further information at’

For more information on Derry City and Strabane District Council’s forthcoming events, visit


Summer School of Rock launched at the Alley


The Alley Theatre have launched its Summer School of Rock inviting kids aged seven years and above to unleash their inner rock star and sign up to a five day summer programme running from 17th until 21st July at the Alley.

During the five day programme children will receive music lessons from professional teaching staff. There will be lessons on guitar and drums, singing and song writing, music reading and rhythm games.

Kids can learn and explore musical and technical requirements for stage, lighting and sound from the stage technical staff at the Alley Theatre. They will also have a chance to dabble in recording, digital uploading and have the opportunity to perform live in front of family and friends in the perfect rock’n’roll setting – on stage at The Alley Theatre.

The course is designed to nurture confidence and bring out the best in young people both on and off stage. It intends to encourage creativity, effective communication, planning and build on teamwork skills while ensuring a great deal of fun is had by all! The programme may also provide opportunities for participants to perform in upcoming productions of the Arts Academy.

The Summer School of Rock is delivered by the creative production team of The Arts Academy, who are the creators of the highly acclaimed and sellout shows; ‘Balo Balo’, ‘Gutz’, ‘Mulan’ and ‘Spook House’ and will be facilitated by Gerry Strawbridge and David Oliver.

Registration to the Summer School of Rock costs £50.00 with discounts available to those booking two and three children as part of a group. A light lunch will be provided every day. For more information visit The Alley Theatre’s website at or telephone 028 7137 4444.


Public invited to have their say on International Appalachian Trail development


Members of the public will have an opportunity to play an active role in the future development and enhancement of local sections of the Ulster-Ireland International Appalachian Trail (IAT) at two specially arranged public stakeholder workshops on Tuesday June 6th.

The events are being held in the Derg Valley Leisure Centre in Castlederg at 1pm and later the same day at 6.30pm in the Newtownstewart 2000 Centre.

Tourism Officer at Derry City and Strabane District Council, Philip McShane, urged stakeholders and those with an interest in the trail to attend the workshops with a view to helping shape and influence its development.

“The work towards tapping into the local tourism potential of the International Appalachian Trail is well under way and this event is the perfect opportunity for business owners, community groups, walking clubs or any other stakeholders to get involved in that process and learn more about the opportunities it could bring to the local area,” he said.
“The workshops will discuss developing the actual walking route and its infrastructure, creating visitor experiences, providing walker friendly services, packaging the offering and other community and rural economic development opportunities so that the full potential of the Ulster Ireland International Appalachian Trail can be realised.
“We believe that if it is developed properly it can be a significant addition to our tourism offering and have a similar brand impact as the Wild Atlantic Way.”

The current Ulster Ireland section of the International Appalachian Trail (IAT) is 280 miles long and runs from the West Coast of Donegal, through the Sperrin Mountains and along the north coast of Antrim before finishing in Larne.

While this section of the trail is in its “infancy”, having only been officially launched in 2013, the terrain to which it and the wider International Appalachian Trail belongs finds its origins in the continental drift of some 250 million years previous.

At that point the remnants of what is now called the Appalachians/Caledonian terrain ended up in eastern United States, eastern Canada, Greenland, Scandinavia, Britain, Ireland, Brittany, the Iberian Peninsula, and Morocco.

When expansion of the entire IAT is completed it will be the largest trail network in the world and has the potential to be a major outdoor adventure brand with a presence in 21 countries, three continents and a home market of over 800 million people.

The extent of the potential is not lost on those taking the lead locally in the trail’s development.

Derry City and Strabane District Council has commissioned a scoping study, on behalf of Derry & Strabane Partnership and other participating LAGs, to develop the Ulster-Ireland International Appalachian Trail as part of a cooperation project within the Rural Development Programme.

Acknowledging the potential economic and community benefits of developing our section of this international trail, the Chair of Derry and Strabane Rural Partnership (LAG) Cllr Patricia Logue said this was a great opportunity for the rural area.

“We are delighted to be the lead partner on behalf of the other participating LAGs in Donegal, Fermanagh and Omagh, Mid Ulster, Causeway Coast and Glens and Mid and East Antrim,” she said.

“These consultation workshops are part of a scoping study to identify gaps and priorities in each area that could be addressed through a co-operation project whilst also exploring potential to grow business and create economic opportunities along the route as well as deliver community benefits.

“I would urge anyone interested in maximising this potential to attend one of the workshops”.

The NI Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and the European Union.

To confirm your attendance at the Stakeholder Workshops contact Duane Fitzsimons on 028 9030 3930 or email

Council seek private sector representative for new tourism steering group

Derry City and Strabane District Council is seeking a representative from within the local tourism industry’s private sector to sit on its recently formed tourism steering group.

The successful candidate will act on behalf of the private sector to advise on and support the delivery of the 2016-2020 Tourism Strategy in partnership with other strategic stakeholders.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Hilary McClintock, encouraged members of the private sector with a vested interest and expertise in tourism to consider putting themselves forward for the role.

“One of the main reasons for the growth in visitor numbers to our City and District in recent years has been the close working relationship between our tourism representatives in the private and public sector,” she said.

“This is an opportunity to further strengthen that relationship by adding a private sector representative to this public body so that the two sectors can work in tandem to plot our future tourism strategy and maximise our visitor potential over the coming years.
“The expertise and understanding that members of our private sector possess from dealing with visitors on the ground on a daily basis can prove invaluable in shaping and planning out tourism offering and I would encourage them to get involved in that process by applying or nominating someone for that position now.”

The 2016-2020 Tourism Strategy aims to support targets for a tourism industry that is locally delivered, focused on in bound visitors from outside Northern Ireland, industry led, government enabled and based on award winning visitor experiences.

It will focus on the aims of the DCSDC Community Plan which sets to position Derry and Strabane as the cultural destination of choice for visitors, offering world class experiences and compelling product offerings.

You can nominate yourself or someone else for the position by application form which is available to download at

The closing date for nominations is Wednesday 14th June 2017.

For further information or clarification contact Jennifer O Donnell, Tourism Manager (acting) by e mail  or by telephone 028 7125 3253.

Strabane Market open for business this Friday


This Friday sees the debut of the new Strabane food and craft market, featuring an exciting showcase of quality artisan products from the local area.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Hilary McClintock, this week encouraged shoppers in the Strabane and surrounding areas to show their support on the market’s first day of trading. “This is an extremely welcome move by Council in establishing a monthly market for Strabane, providing a fantastic opportunity for local traders, food producers and craft workers to get involved in showcasing their produce to the local community.

“Not only will it benefit local traders at the market, but it will also bring additional shoppers into the town centre, to the benefit of all local businesses. I look forward to sampling some of the goods on sale, and I would really encourage everyone to show their support and ensure that the market now builds on these foundations to become a vibrant and permanent feature of Strabane each month.”

Among the local crafters and producers showing their wares will be Granny Knitter with her series of hand knitted children’s designs, the award winning producers Kennedy Bacon, Sperrin Specialty Coffee, Sand Art, local crafter Carol White with her beautiful range of handmade cards and books, antiques specialist Felim O’Neill, the One World Shop, and Sweet Piranha Bites.

Markets Officer with Derry City and Strabane District Council, Nicolle Walters, said the market offered a wide array of quality products. “I am delighted to see the variety of goods which will be on display and which will appeal to a wide variety of shoppers. This is a really positive beginning to what will be a regular monthly fixture in the town centre and hopefully it will inspire other artisan traders in the area to also consider signing up.

“Council is committed to supporting local traders and to identifying new opportunities to enhance the offering of our city and town centres in a way that will boost business and the local economy for everyone.”

The market will set up stall in the Courtyard of the Alley Theatre from 11am to 4pm and will operate on the last Friday of each month. DCSDC is still taking applications from traders who are interested in taking part. Trading opportunities are limited and traders will be subject to a selection process which will take into account the types of goods, their speciality nature, and previous experience.

Application forms and selection criteria can be obtained from or by emailing

or contacting Council’s Business Section on Tel: 02871 253 253 ext: 6664.

Promote Your Event To A Wider Audience

Strabane Visitor Information Centre can provide event and festival organisers with a platform for marketing local events which have the potential to attract visitors to the area or simply encourage them to stay longer. If you are running a local event (e.g. a festival , family fun day, cultural event, traditional music session, talks on local history & heritage, guided walks, or golf , angling or equestrian competition ) and are interested in promoting it to a wider audience contact Strabane Visitor Information Centre on 028 7138 4444

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