Ilex, the urban regeneration company for Derry~Londonderry, is assisting the city’s four main churches to develop a new Christian Heritage Trail.
The Churches Trust Ltd was awarded £255,000 under the City of Culture Capital Fund to develop a trail linking Carlisle Road Methodist Church, St Augustine’s Church of Ireland, Long Tower Catholic Church and the First Derry Presbyterian Church with the site of St Brecan’s Monastery at St Columb’s Park.
Launched today, the trail which is believed to be the original Pilgrim’s Trail route, will start at St Columb’s Park, continue through Ebrington Square and the Peace Bridge and will lead to the Walled City. Along the way the path will be marked by the thoughts and reflections of 6th and 7th century Christian ancestors alongside contemporary messages of reflection from city residents. New seating and public artworks will also be installed as part of the project.
Ilex’s Cultural Broker, Caoimhin Corrigan, said: “This new Christian Heritage Trail will be a valuable addition in helping to promote the world-class heritage of this city. As well as having a strong educational dimension, it marks out another step in improving our visitor experience for all those who will visit the city in 2013 and beyond. In establishing the link from St. Brecan’s through to the Walled City, it will also afford local people the opportunity to see their city anew.”
“As well as being a fantastic educational tool, it will be an added attraction for people coming here for the City of Culture celebrations and will provide a link to the Walled City. It will also encourage local people to see their city with new eyes and discover their Christian heritage.”
Churches Trust Ltd Project Co-ordinator, and former Chief Executive, Liam Milligan said: “The key objective for the project is to utilize the unifying figure of our Patron Saint and our associated rich Christian heritage to contribute to a number of important outcomes. This includes bringing our communities together through the symbolic linking of East and West banks, linking the past with the present and providing an opportunity to reflect and heal the division and hurt in our community. It will provide an opportunity to discover our diverse Christian Heritage and the things we have in common. The project will also contribute to the shared space agenda through the cultural animation of the public realm and key historic Christian sites.”
In a joint statement the Church Leaders said: “As Christian churches we are delighted to be involved in the project and have no doubt the impact it will have in contributing to positive community relations in the City. We wish to commend the Churches Trust for its vision and leadership in bringing the project to fruition and would encourage all of our citizens to visit the Trail once it is completed.”
Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland said: “I am pleased that my Department has been able to provide financial support for this worthwhile project. It is a fine example of how Londonderry can link its history to the vibrant modern city that it has become. The messages of reflection will provide points of interest for those moving through the city for the events of the UK City of Culture 2013.”