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A Heritage Trail gives fishing communities a boost

Fishing communities of County Down in Northern Ireland have been struggling in recent times but the initiative ‘Maritime Heritage Tourism Infrastructure and Communication Project’ was able to give the region a major boost, particularly in the three port towns of Ardglass, Kilkeel and Portavogie.

Fishing communities of County Down in Northern Ireland have been struggling in recent times but the initiative ‘Maritime Heritage Tourism Infrastructure and Communication Project’ was able to give the region a major boost, particularly in the three port towns of Ardglass, Kilkeel and Portavogie.

The project developed a Heritage Trail, showcasing their region’s rich history and telling the stories of the local fisheries communities. New information displays and panels were installed throughout the fishing towns and along the trail. The visitor experience is further brought to life thanks to the creation of mobile apps that give additional information and real-time news feeds. In addition, free WiFi hotspots were placed in strategic locations to give visitors access to these apps.

To accompany the trail, fishermen and harbourmasters were photographed and interviewed to make a Fishing Heritage booklet, giving a better understanding of the harbour and making the ports and people more accessible. The booklet complements a FLAG-funded video produced by Seafish celebrating the Northern Ireland Seafood Industry.

Accredited training courses were also held in each of the fishing communities. Over thirty people became qualified ambassadors of their area, building a network of Maritime Heritage Guides across County Down. Some have already put their new skills to good use by giving guided tours on the area’s heritage and fishing traditions and activities.

With the help of the FLAG, the Strangford Lough and Lecale Partnership (SLLP) and the Northern Ireland Fishery Harbour Authority (NIFHA), the county was enhanced as a tourist destination, attracting visitors to the ports and their communities and even reconnecting the locals with their harbour.


Quote from Kevin Quigley, Northern Ireland Fishery Harbour Authority: A £50,000 investment in free WiFi provides a much-needed communication channel for fishermen while they are in the harbours.  On-line communication is also key to presenting interesting stories, activities and local business information to visitors, through mobile devices.


Project information

Lead/coordinating organisation: Strangford Lough and Lecale Partnership

Project location: County Down, Northern Ireland

Timeframe of implementation: September 2014 to August 2015

Total project cost: £216 858.79

EU contribution (EFF):  £108 429.39

Other public contribution:  £108 429.39

FLAG supporting the project: Northern Ireland South East Area FLAG

Project website: www.strangfordlough.org