Donegal County Council is to discuss a possible twinning arrangement between Grianan of Aileach and Tullach Og Fort near Cookstown in County Tyrone.
The issue has been raised by Cllr Jack Murray, who says it has massive potential in terms of attracting tourism.
A deputation from Tyrone, including representatives from Mid-Ulster council, is coming to Donegal in June for a series of meetings, and the proposal is also on the agenda for the next meeting of Donegal County Council.
Cllr Murray says there are very clear links between the two sites………
Cllr Murray’s statement in full –
“I am extremely keen to see Grianan of Aileach reach its full potential and become the flagship tourism site in County Donegal.
“Grianan already has over 100,000 visitors annually and that is without any significant promotion or advertisement.
“For the last year, I have been pushing for Donegal County Council and the OPW (Office of Public Works) to work together to source funding which would enhance the site by investing in a tour guide, better signage and infrastructural access.
“Subsequent to a meeting of all local stakeholders recently which gathered significant publicity in the media, I was contacted the Cinéal Eoghain Council and the Ancient Clan O’Neill in County Tyrone which helped promote the Tullach Og fort.
“I met the group at Grianan with members of the local community. We then travelled to Tyrone and saw first-hand what they had achieved there. We also discussed a potential twinning arrangement with a senior official from Mid-Ulster District Council.
“While many people may not be aware; there is a strong and rich historical connection between our two sites as, when the O’Neills left Grianan, it was Tullach Og in which they settled.
“With that in mind, the potential of a twinning arrangement is massive.
“Both sights have festivals each year which draw thousands of tourists. I believe that they could be linked and developed further. The two sites can also promote each other by directing tourists who are doing historical tours in Tyrone to Donegal or vice versa. There is also a cross-border element which can attract funding.
“The groups in Tyrone are now planning to visit Donegal on 9th June along with local tourism staff and representatives of Mid-Ulster District Council.
“I hope to have a formal meeting with them along with local stakeholders and representatives of Donegal County Council.
“As such, I have submitted a motion, to be debated at the next full sitting of Donegal County Council which will seek an endorsement of the plan and direct the council to explore the twinning arrangement and all its potential.
“While I wouldn’t support anything which would negatively impact on Grianan of Aileach in anyway whatsoever, I feel that we can do so much more to promote a sight which is among the most significant in Ireland and has, in my opinion, the best views in the country.
“I would also encourage anyone in the local community with ideas, suggestions or opinions on what should or shouldn’t be done to contact me and I will be happy to discuss what can be done.”
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