Village group learns more of Ulster Scots tourism potential

A VISIT to the Ullans Centre in Ballymoney will help inform a study of the economic potential of Ulster Scots being undertaken in Ballycarry.

The village community association is currently part of the IFI Community Leadership Programme, and in addition to the year-long learning sessions, the five participants are undertaking a project on cultural tourism.

The local group chose to examine the potential for Ulster Scots in terms of tourism and part of their programme includes a visit to Dublin and a meeting with senior tourism officials.

Last week members of the group visited the Ullans Centre in Ballymoney and met Ann Morrison Smyth, the outreach officer for the Ullans Speakers Association, to learn more about the centre and its work.

The visit coincided with broadcasting from FUSE FM, which is an Ulster Scots radio station, and the Ballycarry group was interviewed live about their visit and Ulster Scots community activity in Ballycarry during their visit.

They heard how the radio station has appealed to a wide range of listeners, and has engaged with young people who might not otherwise have connected with Ullans.

“We learned about the operations of the Ullans Centre, which has two staff, and which engages in outreach work to schools as well as translations, while there is an increasing interest in terms of tourists and genealogical enquiries,” said association chairman Dr David Hume.

“This visit has greatly informed us of the potential of Ulster Scots language and we will also be looking at the potential of cultural heritage on tourism, something which we feel in Ballycarry we are well placed to develop,” he added.

As part of the Community Leadership Programme training of tour guides to welcome groups to the village is also underway, and it is hoped the marketing of village tours will take place early in the New Year.

The association says the plans tie in with the recently launched Weaver’s Trail in the village, which commemorates the legacy of James Orr, Bard of Ballycarry and foremost of the Ulster Weaver Poets.

The Weaver’s Trail has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The International Fund for Ireland Leadership Programme participants from Ballycarry are Dr David Hume, Cllr Mark McKinty, Lesley McMillan, Carla McKeaveney and Carol Dempsey.