£25k Heritage Trail to reveal Portrush’s ‘hidden’ gems

The Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Alderman Maura Hickey, with participants on the Heritage Trail consultation in April. INCR 20-703-CON
The Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Alderman Maura Hickey, with participants on the Heritage Trail consultation in April. INCR 20-703-CON

Portrush’s “hidden” attractions are to be brought to a wider audience thanks to a £24,900 Heritage Lottery Fund award.

Portrush Heritage Group has received the financial boost for a new Heritage Trail Project.

Led by volunteers from the community, it will provide a unique opportunity for tourists and residents alike to experience the natural and cultural heritage of Portrush.

Commencing immediately with scheduled completion by March 2018, the Heritage Trail will involve people of all ages and backgrounds with interaction in the study and understanding of the history of the seaside resort.

The project aims to energise townsfolk to support, through volunteer roles, the development of heritage-related experiences through the Heritage Treasure Trail, re-enactment events and heritage festivals.

This journey will include the famous fossil embedded dolerite stones of the Lansdowne foreshore, the basalt pile that is Ramore Head and the ages-old White Rocks to the Middle Bronze Age village of Corrstown, an early medieval Christian church and castle, Viking raids and Scottish pirates encamped on off-shore islands.

The ‘Golden Years’ following the development of Portrush as a harbour and commercial port in 1835 and the arrival of the railway in 1855 which lead to the development of grand hotels. The Portrush to Giant’s Causeway hydro-electric trams in 1883 and such institutions as Barry’s Amusements and Arcadia Ballroom will not be overlooked.

Portrush Lifeboat with its history of rescues, heroic bravery and sad losses will be an important part of the tour. The long tradition of swimming, rowing and diving competitions at the harbour and the Blue Pool together with regattas in both East and West Bays will be highlighted as will the importance of the many miles of golden sandy beaches and the “bucket and spade” family holiday makers who thronged Portrush for so many years.

Portrush Heritage Group was established by a number of local historians in 2014 with a mission of raising awareness and appreciation of the heritage of the local area.

John Mc Nally, chairman of Portrush Heritage Group, said: “We are delighted to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund for this exciting project. The Heritage Trail is one of the key priority projects in our Strategic Plan and it will greatly facilitate increased public engagement in our shared heritage. This is a great opportunity to develop and provide an educational experience for both locals and visitors.

“Our aim also is to stimulate economic development by encouraging visitors passing through the beautiful North Coast with all its iconic beauty spots to stop, shop and spend time in the town of Portrush. We want Portrush to be seen as much more than the North’s leading recreational holiday destination but also be appreciated for its heritage history which will add a new exciting dimension when promoting our town”.

Paul Mullan, head of HLF Northern Ireland, said: “Portrush is well-known for its beautiful beaches, the Giant’s Causeway and as the home of many cultural and sporting events. Now thanks to National Lottery players, this new heritage trail will open up many of the area’s lesser-known heritage assets for people to learn about and enjoy, and we are delighted to be involved.”