SOUTH Down SDLP MP Margaret Ritchie has called on all within the wider community to come to St Patrick’s Country in Downpatrick and Saul over the next few days to celebrate our national saint in the centre of Patrician heritage.
Ms Ritchie said today (15 March): “St Patrick’s Festival is one of celebration in St Patrick’s Country. On behalf of the people of South Down, I urge people and communities from throughout this island to come to Downpatrick, Saul and the Lecale area to sample the assets associated with Patrick
“Peoples throughout the world identify with St Patrick on St Patrick’s Day. What better way for celebration and identification than visit the principal assets associated with Patrician heritage on the island of Ireland in the Lecale area.
“St Patrick is unique to this area in that he began and ended his ministry in this area. St Patrick is a figure of reconciliation and unification on this island – he belongs to everyone and is our standard bearer.”
“Tourism is our main economic driver in South Down. Central to that tourism drive in this part of South Down is Patrician heritage and St Patrick’s Country. In Downpatrick, Saul, Raholp and the wider Lecale area, we have the main Patrician sites.
“These are St Patrick’s landing site at the River Slaney at the mouth of Strangford Lough; his first church, abbey and pilgrim site at Saul; where he took healing waters at Struell Wells; Sliabh Padraig monument at Saul; his burial site at Down Cathedral in Downpatrick and St Patrick’s Catholic Church in the town where there is a shrine dedicated to our national saint. What better way to co-ordinate and sample that visit than go to St Patrick’s Centre in the town and sample the historical visitor experience, and then go to the other sites.
“Whether you want to visit those important sites, walk in the area, participate or even view the parade or simply soak up the atmosphere in Downpatrick and Lecale, why not visit this area over the next few days and see an area rich in early Christian heritage.
“Documented evidence and research have clearly demonstrated that our heritage makes a significant financial return to the local economy.
“Why not make that visit to St Patrick’s Country this weekend and sample the unique heritage of St Patrick”.