A major new piece of sculpture designed to put the historic village of Drumahoe firmly on the map has been officially unveiled “just three miles from Londonderry along the Faughanside”.
Adorned with reeds, salmon, dragonflies and the famous bridge immortalised in the song, the work - designed by artist Pauline Matthew after workshops with school children in Drumahoe Primary School, young people in the YMCA, church groups, sports groups, senior citizens and other lynchpins of the local community - is the result of a long-term Building Peace Through The Arts project.
DUP councillor and community association member Hilary McClintock said: “The community association are indebted to Robert McCartney of Transport NI for suggesting the present site.
“This proved to be the perfect Re-imaging site. A site that the local community have long wished to see changes on. It fulfils the community’s wish for a significant marker on the main arterial route into the city.
“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland were also happy with this significant site in relation to the substantial investment that they were making in the area.”
There was an overwhelming response from the community to ensure that the River Faughan, the salmon fishing, local people and local history would all be incorporated in the themes.
Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland said: “The Building Peace Through the Arts programme has at its core the ability to bring communities together, through creative led engagement.
“We have witnessed countless communities in the border counties and Northern Ireland experience the transformative power of the arts, Drumahoe is no exception and we are delighted to be part of the unveiling of this eye-catching new landmark which symbolises the people and the place that is Drumahoe.”
After a busy round of planning applications and local negotiations on various issues the village of Drumahoe now has a fantastic piece if art on a very prominent position on the outskirts of the city, which will be seen by many people.
Drumahoe Community Association has engaged with and worked in partnership with individuals and groups that will serve them well as they go forward on other projects.
They have worked towards peace and reconciliation, removing negative images and graffiti within the village and have shown what can be achieved by working together.
Mrs McClintock added: “The community association are indebted to Arts Council of Northern Ireland for the funding granted, to Transport NI for allowing them to use this land, to Derry City and Strabane District Council for legal advice and assistance along the way.”
Andrew Russell Chairperson of the Community Association said that they are looking forward to progressing other major projects within the area.
Niall Loughran speaking at the launch on behalf of the team of artists which included his father Gerard Loughran from Ballinliss Forge, Tracey McVerry and Patricia Crossan spoke of their work which they named ‘River’ as it represents the shape of the River Faughan at the point in Drumahoe at which the artwork has been installed.
It bears the inscription ‘Along the Faughanside’ and ‘Drumahoe’ and as aforementioned carries a picture of the famous bridge immortalised in the song ‘Along the Faughanside’.
It’s just three miles from Derry
To the bridge at Drumahoe
It’s there I’ve spent some happy days
I’ll have you all to know
Where lambs do sport
Fair maids do court
And small fish gently glide
And there’s blooming corn on a bright May morn
Along the Faughan side
The Deputy Mayor, Alderman Thomas Kerrigan joined other speakers in thanking Andrew Russell and Hilary McClintock for their commitment to the project. Prominently positioned in Drumahoe, on the outskirts of the city, River will be seen by many entering and leaving the city.