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‘Game changing’ £630,000 refurbishment breathes new life into Bessbrook’s Derrymore Estate

Derrymore Playpark

Residents of Bessbrook and beyond will be able to enjoy the benefits of new play and recreation facilities at Derrymore Estate following a total investment of £632,658.

The investment was made possible thanks to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, (DAERA), Newry, Mourne and Down District Council and Sport NI.

The project was funded under DAERA’s the Rural Development Programme’s Co-Operation Scheme in partnership with Moorehall Estate in County Mayo.

The partnership project was initiated by Mourne, Gullion and Lecale Rural Development Partnership and the two sites are linked by historical contexts and topography, which are similar in both estates.

Pictured at Derrymore House in Bessbook Co.Armagh to view new facilities for the public, including a state-of-the-art play park are; (from left-right) Cllr Karen McKevitt, NMDDC Chair of Active and Healthy Communities, Cllr Al McDonnell; Mayo County Council and Carnacon Community Association, DAERA Minister Edwin Poots MLA, Cllr Roisin Mulgrew, Chair of Mourne, Gullion and Lecale Rural Development Partnership Ltd, Michael Lynch; Friends of Derrymore House, Antoinette McKeown, CEO Sport NI and Rosemary Richardson; National Trust. Derrymore Estate received £630,000 in funding through DAERA’s Rural Development Programme in partnership with Moorehall Estate in Co.Mayo and Sport NI.

The Derrymore project was carried out at the historic Derrymore Estate, which consists of 110 acres including 43 acres of park land donated by John Richardson to the National Trust in 1952, before being opened up to the public in 1957.

DAERA’s grant funding contributed to the cost of capital works including installation of toilet facilities, car park extension, formalised play area and access works.

Further funding of £174,772 was provided by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council together with a contribution of £79,153 from Sport NI.

The Moorehall Estate element of the project involved the development of walking trails, restoration of the avenue that runs through the site, provision of a play area, and the creation of a number of picnic and viewing areas at strategic locations across the site.

Welcoming the completion of the project, Minister Poots commented “The improvements which have been undertaken at Derrymore are a game changer for locals and visitors alike.

“Accessing outdoor facilities benefits our health and wellbeing and many people will enjoy the benefits of this scheme by visiting, walking and running through the grounds every day.”

He concluded: “I want to take this opportunity to thank the social partners and Councillors on the Local Action Group, and the volunteers of the Friends of Derrymore, for the time they have given up to make great projects like this come alive, especially in the face of challenges brought about by Covid-19.”

Councillor Roisin Mulgrew said: “As Chair of the Mourne, Gullion and Lecale Rural Development Partnership, I am delighted to see the completion of this impressive project which has availed of Rural Development funding, provided by DAERA and the European Union. The volunteers involved in the Local Action Group continue to work tirelessly to ensure local decisions made by local representatives bring high quality projects such as this to fruition.”

Councillor Cathy Mason, Chairperson of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council reflected on the project stating: “This is a fantastic example of how working in partnership can deliver a facility which is a real asset for the local area and will continue to be for many years to come. I would like to commend the Local Action Group and Newry, Mourne and Down District Council and all project partners for their efforts in this vitally important cross border project.”

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