Margaret Ritchie MP for South Down officially launched the panels on Thursday 6th September and commented, “Lecale has many tourist attractions, in the form of natural and built heritage and its unique Christian heritage. We must all work together to bring about the full potential of our tourism assets for the benefit of the community. The Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty designation, the work of the Strangford Lough and Lecale Partnership and the work of Down District Council is helping to make this a real destination. I welcome these information panels as a positive step in celebrating this area’s heritage for local people and visitors alike.”
Following the amalgamation of the Strangford Lough AONB with Lecale the Partnership extended its ‘Out and About’ booklet and panels to take in key sites around the Lecale coast. Both booklet and panels have been funded by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, the National Trust, Down District and Ards Borough Councils.
Packed full of factual information, colourful pictures, species identification and labelled panoramic pictures, the panels are intended to help people ‘read the landscape’.
Chairman of the SLLP Advisory Committee, Isabel Hood commented that, “The panels are just one of the many strategic initiatives developed through the Partnership to promote and conserve this area’s heritage. We warmly thank the many local people who contributed to the ‘Out and About’ booklet and panels. Particular thanks go to local resident and environmentalist Bridget O’Neill who compiled and wrote most of the information.”
“Down District Council is pleased to be a core member of the Strangford Lough and Lecale Partnership working closely with Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Ards Borough Council and an Advisory Committee of stakeholders,” says Chairperson of Down District Council Michael Coogan. “Working together we can achieve a really integrated approach to manage this area’s rich heritage.”
The panels and the booklet aim to address many of the questions that people regularly raise, such as where the name Lecale comes from. It was known by the ancient name of Magh-Inis, ‘the island plain’. Historically Mag Inis was the core territory of the Dal Fiatach which had strong associations with the sea. Historical sources referred to this territory as Mag Inis until the early 9th Century although it was later known as Leath Cathail ‘Cathal’s half or division’ or Lecale.
The partnership is keen to meet with community groups and residents of Lecale over the coming months, will hold a number of events and will present online features to celebrate the areas heritage. These include a shore exploration with David Thompson from the National Trust on Saturday 29th September and a talk on the town of Ardglass by Michael (date to be confirmed). SLLP also hope to collate images of the area taken by local people. Please call the Partnership on 02842 728886 for details.
The Lecale panels can be found at some of the area’s main stopping points: Audley’s Castle, Strangford, Cloghy Rocks, Kilclief, Killard, Ballyhornan, Ardglass, Killough, Rossglass, and Slieve Patrick.
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