Funding has been secured for the redevelopment of the historic Derrymore Estate in a bid to put it firmly on the tourism map.
The investment on the site, near Bessbrook, will provide for the design and development of themed trails that will incorporate ‘natural’ play features.
There will also be a play area, seating and viewing areas and enhancements to the estate grounds.
The regeneration of Derrymore Estate, is being carried out at the same time as Moore Hall Estate in County Mayo, part of a partnership project initiated by Mourne, Gullion and Lecale Rural Development Partnerships. Plans are now described as being “well underway” following the securing of rural revelopment funding.
A masterplan for the Moore Hall Estate is currently in progress and will include the design of a recreational park, conservation measures and restoration of the historic walled garden and avenue.
The two sites are linked by historical contexts and topography which are similar in both estates.
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairman, Councillor Mark Murnin said he was “delighted” to be involved with this partnership project.
“Not only will it provide funding to restore both Derrymore House and Moore Hall estates, it will undoubtedly contribute to the tourist potential of both these areas and enhance their cultural heritage,” he said. “This project reflects the council’ s commitment to working in partnership, ensuring that we deliver what is best for everyone in our district.”
Derrymore House is the centrepiece of the historic Derrymore Estate, and consists of 110 acres including 43 acres of park land.
Donated by John Richardson in 1952 to the National Trust, the house and demesne was a private residence until being opened to the public in 1957.
Moore Hall Estate comprises 80 acres of woodland overlooking Lough Carra, including an historic house, courtyard and walled garden. Recently acquired by Mayo County Council, it will be developed in collaboration with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, using the funds secured through the Rural Development initiative.
The partnership project will provide for the regeneration of both Derrymore Estate and Moore Hall Estate through the Cooperation Scheme of the Rural Development Programme.
Councillor Roisin Mulgrew, Chairperson of Mourne, Gullion and Lecale Rural Development Partnership, said: “Funding like this is vital and I am delighted that grant aid has been secured to enhance the picturesque beauty of Derrymore Estate.
“I have no doubt the regeneration will attract many additional visitors and the estate will become a central recreational feature for the local community.
“It has been a pleasure fostering links between Derrymore Estate and Moore Hall Estate to encourage greater footfall between the two sites, in a cross border partnership.”
Jerome Burns, from DAERA said: “This project is another example of the contribution the Rural Development programme is making to help improve the quality of life for rural dwellers. It creates a landmark amenity in the district of Newry, Mourne and Down which will not only contribute to the health and well-being of residents but will also promote community cohesion.”
Gemma Elliott, General Manager, National Trust Mid Ulster, added: “We are thrilled that, thanks to this project, we will be able to offer improved walking trails for all. This is of particular importance as accessibility for everyone is fundamental to everything we do.”