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New Geotourism Initiative Launched at Castlewellan
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TOURISM within the Mourne Mountains, Cooley Peninsula and Ring of Gullion was further boosted with the launch of a new Geotourism initiative at The Lodge in Castlewellan, Co Down on Thursday (6 June 2013.)

At the launch of the Geotourism project were front row, Down District Councillor Patsy Toman, a Director of the East Border Region group, and Council Chairman Councillor Mickey Coogan, with back row, Siobhan Power, Geogolist, Ann Kelly, Project Marketing Officer, John Denaney, Project Manager, Alison Hermon, Education Officer and Vanessa Ryan, Admin Support.

At the launch of the Geotourism project were front row, Down District Councillor Patsy Toman, a Director of the East Border Region group, and Council Chairman Councillor Mickey Coogan with a piece of Mourne granite embedded in sediment, with back row, Siobhan Power, Geogolist, Ann Kelly, Project Marketing Officer, John Denaney, Project Manager, Alison Hermon, Education Officer and Vanessa Ryan, Admin Support.

Hot on the heels of the Narrow Water Bridge announcement and the development of Mourne Coastal Route and the Mountain Bike Trails, civic and political representatives from across the region, including the chairpersons of the four partner councils (Newry and Mourne, Louth, Down and Banbridge) attended the formal launch of Mourne Cooley Gullion Geotourism.

The project will promote and enhance the profile of the three areas within one tourism destination, with a particular focus on the significant geology and archaeology.

Speaking at the launch of the initiative Lorraine McCourt, Director with the SEUPB, said: “One of the core objectives of the EU’s INTERREG IVA Programme is to support the development of new tourism products, like the Geo Tourism project, that will enable us to attract more domestic and overseas visitors. I am confident that it will not only make a positive difference to visitor numbers but will also increase visitor spend in the area, thereby providing additional benefits for the local economy.”

Newry nd Mourne Mayor John McArdle (Newry and Mourne District Council), Cllr John Hanna (Banbridge District Council), Cllr Finnan McCoy Chairman of Louth County Council and Cllr Michael Coogan Chairman of Down District Council help launch the Geotourism Project.

Mayor John McArdle (Newry and Mourne District Council), Cllr John Hanna (Banbridge District Council), Cllr Finnan McCoy Chairman of Louth County Council and Cllr Michael Coogan, Chairman of Down District Council, help launch the Geotourism Project.

The project partners are East Border Region Ltd, Newry and Mourne District Council, Louth County Council, Down District Council, Banbridge District Council and the Mourne Heritage Trust.

The Geotourism Manager John Devaney welcomed the opportunity to present this exciting new project, describing it as “another important development in the promotion of the region and one that will help to enhance tourism potential in an area that has so much to offer”.

John Devaney also said that “the region possesses some significant geological features that have helped to shape the extraordinary landscape around us.  This project is primarily about marketing the potential in our landscape and offering educational opportunities”.

The Geotourism Project is part financed by the European Union’s INTERREG IVA Cross Border Programme managed by the Special EU Programmes Body.

Newcastle Councillor Willie  Clarke speaking after attending the launch of the Mournes Cooley, Gullion Geotourism initiative in the Lodge, Castlewellan, said: “This new geo-tourism destination will focus on promoting the international importance of the region’s geology and heritage; The Geo- tourism project incorporates  Louth’s Cooley peninsula and Armagh’s Ring of Gullion and the Mournes; we have an unique geological feature here that tourists, need to discover the project promotes the uplands of the three counties together, on a cross-border basis, this will have much more influence to attract people to this area than promoting them individually.”

Councillor Clarke added, “This all Island tourism initiative will show case our region to a greater number of visitors and will be greatly enhanced by the construction of the Narrow Water Bridge project. I am very encouraged by the amount of positive work that is being undertaken in the Mournes area to develop activity tourism including  the world class mountain bike courses that have been developed in Forest Parks in Castlewellan and Rostrevor.

Newry and Mourne Cllr Brian Quinn, Down District Cllr Patsy Toman, East Dorder Region Director, Senator Tony Brennan,  South Down MP Margaret Ritchie, John Devaney, Geotourism Manager, Down Council Chairman Cllr Mickey Coogan, Newry and Mourne Cllr Mick Murphy at the launch of the Geotourism project in Castlwellan.

Newry and Mourne Cllr Brian Quinn, Down District Cllr Patsy Toman, East Dorder Region Director, Senator Tony Brennan, South Down MP Margaret Ritchie, John Devaney, Geotourism Manager, Down Council Chairman Cllr Mickey Coogan, Newry and Mourne Cllr Mick Murphy at the launch of the Geotourism project in Castlwellan.