Council aims to reawaken interest in the Great Northern Railway through PEACE IV “Railways to the West” project

25th September 2018

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council has launched a new PEACE IV programme entitled “Railways to the West” which focusses on the Great Northern Railway which passed through villages in Mid and West Tyrone and Omagh on its journey from Portadown to Londonderry until its closure in 1965.

The new programme is one of 16 projects identified in the Fermanagh and Omagh PEACE IV Local Action Plan to benefit from a total funding package of £2.8m to deliver projects across three key strands; Shared Spaces and Services, Children and Young People and Building Positive Relations at a Local Level.

The project is supported by the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). Match-funding for this project has been provided by the Executive Office in Northern Ireland and the Department for Rural and Community Development in Ireland.

Speaking about the project, the Chairman of the Fermanagh and Omagh Peace VI Partnership, Councillor Sean Clarke, said:

“For those who lived close to the railway line or used the railways, their memories of a bygone era would make for interesting listening and reading. Young people however will have no experience of this mode of transport and it would be of great benefit to them to learn about the history of the railways and particularly the Great Northern Railway which travelled through the significant transport corridor of local communities such as Carrickmore, Beragh, Sixmilecross, Omagh and Mountjoy.”

The initial phase of the ‘Railways to the West’ project saw over one hundred young people from these local communities participating in a number of creative summer schemes in August.  The week-long arts and heritage scheme sought to engage a wide representation of young people aged 7-12 years from within local communities who bordered the route. Young people will also have an opportunity to participate in a range of trips and activities from October 2018 through to March 2019 which continue to build knowledge and interest in the old railways.  These will include visits to Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, W5 and a steam train experience.

Phase 2 of ‘Railways to the West’ will commence shortly and will present adults in local communities with the opportunity to get involved in a project to recall the rich history of the Great Northern Railway. A focus group comprising interested members of the public will be established to engage in a series of events and activities which raise awareness and share knowledge of the railway. This invitation is extended to everyone from those have no knowledge of the old railway to those who have a keen interest and want to get involved with other enthusiasts.

Expressions of interest are currently being sought and interested parties should contact Fergal O’Donnell from Insight Solutions on 0771 362 3264 or email fergal@insight-solutions.org for further details.