A Cautious Start For Downpatrick Town Committee

Downpatrick Town Committee begins its efforts to improve the quality of life in Downpatrick.

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Downpatrick Town Committee begins its efforts to improve the quality of life in Downpatrick.

A new group in Downpatrick is gradually making a difference to life in the County Down town in small steps.

The Downpatrick Town Committee emerged from the Down Summer Festival group of 2019 and has broadened out to include more business and community members.

Philip Campbell, Chairman of Downpatrick Town Committee presents a cheque to Downpatrick Men’s Club member Sean Clarke.

Chairman of the new group, Philip Campbell, who is much involved in community arts, said: “We set up a year ago in a collaboration but our plans were quickly curtailed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. So we have had to cut our cloth accordingly. Much of it is based on the principle of self-help, and local businesses have the opportunity to buy into the recovery where possible once we are fully established.

“Basically we have core projects: to run small projects and ‘plan small wins’, and gradually build up confidence and links etc, then to eventually engage with agencies such as the council and other bodies on larger schemes.

“We hope to build confidence and grow and manage our projects effectively. Going forward we will have our eye on bigger projects.

“The three areas of focus will be:

  • the local economy
  • social heritage which includes the arts
  • and the environment.

“We have just completed a mural funded by Newry Mourne and Down District Council with a Magnus Barelegs theme at the gable end of Mullan’s Bar in Scotch Street, touching on our local history. We hope to do more of these touching on local history which will help to add more life to Downpatrick.

A Magnus Barelegs mural on the gable end of Mullan’s Bar in Church Street in Downpatrick by the Downpatrick Town Committee.

“Also, we have been engaged with the Downpatrick Mens Health Project and the Downpatrick Allotments Committee in producing a number of hanging baskets for key areas in the Downpatrick. They will be offered to local shops, traders and small businesses and should help to make Downpatrick a bit more appealing visually.

“The fence around the old Downe Hospital site too is something we are looking at and a mural on local historical scenes and characters would also lift that making it also more appealing.

“We realise that the Downpatrick is needing an boost and with our efforts we hope to empower the community involving local people and organisations in different projects.

“It is important to avoid the pitfalls of previous committees and that the members from the different sectors all work together for the common good. That way we will be able to progress to greater things.

“We are just stating off on a very long and complex road, so our key approach is to engage with small projects. The Arts in particular is an area where we can make a difference to Downpatrick. There are a number of artists already who have expressed their interest and want to help and be included.”

Philip explained that to kickstart the environmental agenda, the group has received funding from Newry Mourne and Down District Council to put up the flower baskets. And they are collaborating with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful on a litter pick for the town.

“Growing this group will be a slow process but we are already well engaged and progressing very well. We have a very rich built heritage and a fascinating history around Downpatrick which includes St Patrick… but there is so much more to discover and offer in this area such as the influence of Viking King Magnus Barelegs.”

OFFICERS OF THE DOWNPATRICK TOWN COMMITTEE.

  • CHAIRPERSON: Philip Cambell.
  • SECRETARY: Bernie Blaney.
  • Treasurer: Darren Kearney.
  • Public Relations: Jane McGarrity.

Other committee members include Nuala Perry, John Wilson, Aidan Mackel, Kieron Black, Stephen Magorrian, Dan McEvoy.