Three famous sons of Larne are providing the inspiration for the next generation of sports and music stars in the community through a mural reimaging project.
Factory Community Forum (FCF), based in Greenland Community Centre, has worked with schools and youth groups to reimage a wall which had been used for sectarian and conflict-related graffiti for more than 30 years.
The new mural, which was unveiled by former world champion boxer Dave ‘Boy’ McAuley, aims to ‘Promote Positive Aspirations’ and features footballer Gareth McAuley, DJ and music producer Robert Ferguson ( DJ Fergie) and Dave ’Boy’.
FCF’s work is supported through the International Fund For Ireland’s Peace Impact Programme.
Paddy Harte, chairman of the IFI said: “Reaching out to communities who often feel that the peace process has left them behind is an integral part of our work. This town has suffered for many years with lack of employment opportunities, paramilitary activity and social deprivation.
“Thanks to this project, local residents are engaging in a more positive manner and developing the necessary tools to build a stronger community that can prosper and grow. ”
The project is part of a wider initiative to address the negative legacy of the conflict in the area and over the next 12 months there will be ongoing work to address bonfires, cultural expression and engage at-risk young people around paramilitaries, gangs, sectarianism, drugs and alcohol.
Gareth McConnell, from Factory Community Forum, said: “We have been trying for almost ten years to get this wall reimaged and we are grateful that the International Fund for Ireland agreed to support it through the Peace Impact Programme.
“It is a main route that many children take to school each day and is the road to the town’s major employer. The new mural presents a much more positive image of the area and we hope it will inspire local children and young people for many generations to come.
“It was designed through a workshop programme involving over 100 participants of all ages, from local schools, youth groups, community leaders and even some visiting students from America. We are delighted with the finished look and the feedback locally has been overwhelmingly positive.
“The overall project is part of our wider work to address the legacy of the conflict in the area and to promote aspirations in children and young people.
“We have been lobbying for a number of years for the redevelopment of the park area which is adjacent to the wall and we hope that the new mural is the catalyst for starting this process and providing better play and recreation facilities for local children and young people.”