MEMBERS of Ballycarry Community Association have met with senior tourism and government figures in Dublin as part of a Community Leadership Programme.
Seven members of the programme took part in the Action Learning Project, which included a meeting with government minister Brian Hayes TD, the minister responsible for historic monuments in the Republic of Ireland.
The Minister hosted a meeting with the group in the Dail Committee room and answered questions as well as being briefed on Ballycarry and the Broadisland Gathering Festival by the group.
The Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland, Niall Gibbons and senior official Mark Henry were present for the meeting and also later briefed the delegation on Tourism Ireland’s view on the potential of the Ulster Scots tourism product.
The Action Learning Project is about communications and cultural tourism and a new website for the community group has been part of the scheme, while the second element will involve highlighting the tourist potential of the area.
The CLP for Ballycarry and District has been funded by the International Fund for Ireland and is administered by NICVA.
Those who were involved in the Dublin visit were Dr David Hume, Carla McKeaveney, Lesley McMillan, Karyn Brown, Carol Dempsey, Cllr Mark McKinty, and Paula Lewis and all were delighted with the day.
The visit included seeing the Dublinia history museum, which features Viking and Medieval Dublin and has an interesting archaeology section, and a guided tour of the Dail.
The final trip was to Trinity College library, where assistant librarian Ellen O’Flaherty provided access for the group to see a set of letters from Ballycarry bard James Orr.
The material in the letters is now being assessed by the group, and Dr Hume said that they had the potential to open a new window on Orr’s life after the 1798 Rebellion.
“Political events and political views are coming across in the letters, as well as personal details which are enlightening as well,” he said.
“More work needs to be done in relation to the content, but for us these letters opened a new window on Orr and we hope to find more detail with the support of Trinity College,” he added.
The Community Leadership group has already visited the Ullans Centre in Ballymoney and a training manual is currently being drawn up for tour guides who will escort historical groups coming to the village in future.
“The IFI sponsored programme has been a major boost for our Association and has opened doors for us which we would not have expected over a year ago when we applied to be part of it. We look forward to the successful completion of the programme and are confident that the information gleaned and contacts made will stand our Association well into the future,” said the chairman.