Site prep work progresses ahead of A Giant Visitor Experience launch in the Sperrins  

7th March 2022

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Major site preparation work is progressing on the three site locations in the Sperrins that will host the iconic and unique art pieces being created by world acclaimed artist Thomas Dambo that will be unveiled to the public later this year.

The installations are part of the exciting Giant of the Sperrins Sculpture Trail being rolled out by Derry City & Strabane District Council in partnership with Fermanagh & Omagh District Council and Mid Ulster District Council, in this popular area of natural beauty in an effort to drive rural tourism and invest in the local natural and built heritage.

The Sperrins Sculpture Trail is delivered through the Rural Tourism Scheme as part of the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 with funding support of over £1.32m from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) with match funding totalling £568k from the partner Councils.

Site works to get the three locations ready for the much anticipated installation of the sculptures are progressing well and are being carried out in a phased approach.

The three locations are at Cranagh (Derry City & Strabane District Council area); at Mullaghcarn (Fermanagh & Omagh District Council area) and at Davagh Forest (Mid Ulster District Council area). The Cranagh site is the most advanced and almost nearing completion, while construction commenced in January at the Davagh Forest and is progressing on schedule. Final investigative works have just been completed on the third site at Mullaghcarn with construction works due to start very soon.

Last year, Copenhagen based artist Thomas Dambo and the design and construction consultancy team McGurk Architects were appointed to take forward the development and installation works for this exciting Giants of the Sperrins Sculpture project that will showcase the epic stories associated with the Sperrins, the inspirational nature of the landscape, and the giant spirit and welcome of its people.

To date extensive engagement with partners, stakeholders and elected members across all three of the Councils has taken place and news that diggers are on site carrying out the substantial preparatory work has been welcomed as an important step forward towards the next stage of the process.

The Minister for Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs, Edwin Poots MLA, said, “I am pleased at this giant step forward that the Rural Development Programme 2014-20 Rural Tourism Scheme is enabling the creation of this flagship tourism project which will encourage visitors to the Sperrins and provide a much needed boost to the local economy.”

Speaking about the project, the Chair of Fermanagh Omagh, Councillor Errol Thompson said the preparatory works marked another important milestone in this project.

He said: “I am delighted to hear this project is progressing so well and that we have diggers on site carrying out the essential preparatory work for this exciting project. This trail is a significant Rural Tourism Scheme that is bringing much needed investment and focus on the natural and built heritage which can be utilised and promoted to encourage visitors to our rural heartlands, whilst preserving the natural assets for our rural communities.”

He noted that in addition to this flagship tourism project attracting investment and tourism, it is also creating employment and economic opportunities for the region.

Continuing, Councillor Thompson said; “Fermanagh an Omagh District Council is committed to working in partnership with other stakeholders to make the district a great place in which to live, work, visit and invest and we are delighted to be working with our partners at Derry City and Strabane District Council and Mid Ulster District Council to showcase and promote the Sperrins by creating an iconic and unique tourism experience in this rural and very beautiful part of Northern Ireland.”

In tandem with the site preparatory work is the artist’s designs and creations, which are expected to be complete by later this year before being unveiled as part of a major launch and reveal event.

A key element of this project is the secrecy and suspense behind it and that the fact that the final designs will remain under wraps until they are unveiled to the public at project completion later this year.

Councillor Thomson concluded: “There is a lot of excitement around this project and the art installations that will be created to tell the story of this unique historic site and attract tourists from near and far. The sculptures will not only explore and showcase this stunning landscape but it will be a focus point for visitors to the area for generations to come. The months ahead will be really exciting as we see the sites being prepared and the installations being completed ahead of the big reveal and launch later this year.”