Wednesday 21st July 2021 

One of Ireland’s leading diaspora initiatives is today launching a new network of regional Irish partners to connect those of Irish heritage abroad with their places of origin. Ireland Reaching Out, which has more than 150,000 members worldwide, wants to team up with local organisations to help drive regional tourism as part of the economic recovery. One of the first organisations to join the network is the Tower Museum which will cover the counties of Derry, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Down, Armagh and Antrim.

One of Ireland’s leading diaspora initiatives — Ireland Reaching Out — is today launching a new network of regional Irish partners to connect those of Irish heritage abroad with their places of origin. Pictured are Mick Baynes, Tourism Officer for Visit Castlebar, and Laura Colleran, Ireland Reaching Out Programme Manager, outside the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life. Photo: Alison Laredo

Ireland Reaching Out plans to build on the surge in people tracing their Irish roots during the lockdowns and who now wish to travel to Ireland as the country starts to reopen. To support this expected influx of Irish Diaspora tourists to Ireland, the Irish Partner Network of Ireland Reaching Out has been established. This new network of regionally-based partners aims to improve the service offered to diaspora as they visit Ireland – both north and south.​ Three key groups –  Tower Museum, Visit Castlebar and Ballyhoura Development CLG — have already joined and Ireland Reaching Out  is now seeking other interested regional heritage and tourism groups to join.

Established in 2010, Ireland Reaching Out is a volunteer-driven, non-profit organisation connecting people of Irish heritage with the local community in their place of origin in Ireland.  It is funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade and is based in County Galway. This unique charity offers anyone from anywhere in the world with Irish roots the chance to connect with the community they have descended from by engaging with locals on the ground and online through its online platform – IrelandXO.com   Members avail of free advice from a large team of volunteers, helping them to trace their roots and connect with their Irish place of origin.

Ireland Reaching Out has sought partners who are leaders in heritage and tourism in their regions.  Each Network Partner will provide support to Ireland Reaching Out volunteers in a number of surrounding counties in order to increase engagement with the diaspora in those areas. The first three partnerships established are:·     

Tower Museum  – which will cover the counties of Derry, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Down, Armagh and Antrim

Visit Castlebar –  which will cover the counties of: Sligo, Roscommon, Mayo, Leitrim, and Donegal

Ballyhoura Development CLG – which will cover the counties of Cork, Kerry and Limerick.

Laura Colleran, Ireland Reaching Out Programme Manager, says:“Our network of regional partners will provide assistance and support to the many Ireland Reaching Out Volunteers across the island of Ireland. It will also ensure that those visiting Ireland for the first time to trace their roots in Ireland have a better chance to engage with the locals living in their communities of origin in Ireland.”With volunteer help, they may get to see the homestead of their Irish forebearers, walk the land their people farmed before leaving Ireland, see the graves of their ancestor and, if possible, get to meet living relatives in Ireland. As we emerge from COVID restrictions and look to develop creative solutions that re-ignite tourism, IrelandXO is an important diaspora engagement resource for the whole country.”

Bernadette Walsh, Archivist at Tower Museum, says:“The Tower Museum has a very similar outlook to Ireland Reaching Out. We are very much about sustainability, promoting our genealogy and archive collections to encourage people to access and engage with our programmes and to promote tourism to the local areas. We are unique in that we are the only local authority archive service in Northern Ireland outside of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, Belfast. We get a lot of people visiting that want to investigate their own family history as well as research students, academics and film companies. “As part of Derry City & Strabane District Council, the Tower Museum is strongly associated with the Council’s region, we will be working with partners and volunteers all across Northern Ireland to promote the wider region as part of this project with Ireland Reaching Out. Ideally, we will eventually have partners joining from all across the island of Ireland to build on the momentum.”    

If you are interested in volunteering, becoming (or supporting) a regional partner, please contact Ireland Reaching Out at info@irelandxo.com

Ready for an al fresco meal or some drinks in a sun-soaked beer garden this summer? Local business platform Independent Derry has compiled this handy list of their favourite bars and eateries with outdoor spaces. Cheers to that!

https://www.independentderry.co.uk/post/derryoutdoordining

Unlocking the stories and secrets of the Walled City of Derry is about to get easier with the launch of the new Visit Derry Pass. This integrated ticket will help visitors plan a break in Derry-Londonderry and enjoy access to multiple experiences within the compact walkable city. The Visit Derry Pass provides discounted entry to ten of the most-loved attractions and activities across the city. 

The digital pass already operates in destinations including York, Edinburgh, Manchester and Glasgow and Visit Derry is delighted to the launch the first of its kind in Northern Ireland. The pass gives ticket holders access to iconic sites including The Guildhall, Tower Museum, Siege Museum and The Museum of Free Derry; tours of the City’s cathedrals and churches; and access to several guided tour options that take in the bustle of the city.

The launch of the Visit Derry Pass comes hot on the heels of the reopening of the tourism sector in Northern Ireland, with staycations expected to surge in popularity this summer. As an integral part of the city’s recovery strategy, Visit Derry recognised the opportunity to create a unified sightseeing pass which provides great value for money and brings together some of the City’s most-loved tourist sites, encouraging visitors to stay longer and explore more. The Visit Derry Pass is developed by Derry City and Strabane District Council in partnership with Visit Derry and part funded by Tourism Northern Ireland. It is priced from £25 per adult (1-day ticket) and £30 (2-day ticket). Passes can be bought online at www.visitderry.com/pass or in person at the Visitor Information Centre. The pass can be downloaded onto a smartphone or device making it even more convenient for visitors to use and pre-book before arrival.

Alderman Graham Warke, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council pictured at the launch of the new Visit Derry Pass with Odhran Dunne, Visit Derry CEO and staff from some of the attractions participating in the scheme. Visitors and locals alike can now enhance their experience of the city through a new innovative digital visitor pass developed by Derry City and Strabane District Council in partnership with Visit Derry and part funded by Tourism Northern Ireland. The Visit Derry Pass is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland and will provide discounted entry to ten of the most-loved attractions and activities across the city

Derry-Londonderry has made the shortlist for Europe’s Leading Emerging Tourism Destination 2021 at The World Travel Awards.

The Walled City is one of eight emerging city destinations in with a chance of scooping the prize at the awards, nicknamed the ‘Oscars of Travel’.

Renowned as one of the finest examples of a Walled City in Europe and the primary destination for cultural and heritage experiences on the island, Derry is a worthy nominee and needs your votes to help scoop the top spot.

With international voting now open, people have been urged to get behind Derry.

Odhran Dunne, Chief Executive of Visit Derry commented: “We are delighted Derry has been nominated for Europe’s Leading Emerging Tourism Destination. Being a finalist in this prestigious award, puts us on a world stage as we begin to emerge from the covid crises and rebuild tourism. It strengthens our international appeal and rewards the commitment of all players in our local industry to position the city region as a must-visit destination. We have all the ingredients of a standout destination, centred on our historic City Walls, heritage, renowned lively cultural and events scene and strategic geographic location to be nominated for the award is fantastic. We look forward to the global industry and travel consumers recognising our emerging potential and giving us their vote!” You can cast your vote for the Maiden City as Leading Emerging Tourism Destination here. Voting closes on 14th July 2021.

Could the Walled City of Derry be the leading emerging tourism destination in Europe? Derry has made the shortlist at the prestigious World Travel Awards for Europe’s Leading Emerging Tourism Destination 2021. The winner will be the finalist who gains the most votes. To vote for Derry as Europe’s Leading Emerging Tourism Destination, visit www.visitderry.com/vote before 14th July. First to cast their vote is the Mayor Alderman Graham Warke with Visit Derry chair Michelle Simpson and Chief Executive Odhran Dunne. Supporting the voting are, Brenda Morgan, City of Derry Airport, Ethan Dunlop, City Cabs, Lawrence, Far and Wild, Carla McDevitt, Airporter, Kiera Duddy, The Pickled Duck, Bronagh Masoliber, Visit Derry. David Douglas, Derrie Danders and James Huey, Walled City Brewery, and

With December 25 fast approaching, a new website has been launched to help gift-givers shop local this Christmas.

shoplocalderrystrabane.com signposts shoppers towards the best artisan and locally made gift providers and showcases the outstanding food and drink options available in the City and District.

The easy-to-navigate site features video messages from business owners, daily competitions and links to the social media pages of other shop local initiatives.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Brian Tierney urged people to champion local businesses this festive season.

“It has never been more important for us to get behind businesses that are locally owned this year, given the smaller window they will have to open to the public. Finding the perfect gift for loved ones has never been easier or safer with many local retailers now offering click and collect or home delivery services.”

The site will function beyond Christmas time and will be available for the public to access in the New Year.

First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill have announced an investment of £1.7million in a new arts and cultural project in the Derry-Londonderry Urban Village area.

The Ministers revealed plans from the Executive’s Urban Villages initiative to transform the existing New Gate Arts and Culture Centre in the Fountain estate and the adjacent vacant site into a state-of-the-art shared performance space.

First Minister Arlene Foster said: “The North West Cultural Partnership has used arts and creativity as a catalyst for change over the years, bringing people from different backgrounds and cultures together in shared experiences.

“The investment of £1.7m by the Executive’s Urban Villages Initiative, in a new build multi-use performance space will expand their ability and opportunity to facilitate more activities and training; while connecting with wider audiences, not only from the Urban Village area but across the City and further afield, breathing new life into this area.”

The public can view plans at https://www.planningni.gov.uk/

Date: 23 Sep 2020. A world-class Visitor Information Centre has officially opened in the heart of Derry-Londonderry.

Derry City and Strabane District Council Mayor, Brian Tierney who officially opened Derry’s new state-of-the-art Visitor Information Centre at Waterloo Place, pictured with, Dave Vincent, Tourism NI, Colin Greer DFC, Catherine Crawley, centre manager and Odhran Dunne, Chief Executive, Visit Derry. The new centre, located in the heart of the city centre and adjacent to the historic City Walls, will be the new hub for tourists to the city and area looking for advice and information on the top attractions to visit and what events are happening across the city and district. Picture Martin McKeown. 23.09.20

Today marked the opening of Derry’s new state-of-the-art Visitor Information Centre at Waterloo Place. The new centre, located in the heart of the city centre and adjacent to the historic City Walls, will be the new hub for tourists to the city and area, looking for advice and information on the top attractions to visit and what events are happening across the city and district.

The refurbishment works commenced in December of last year following the decision by Derry City and Strabane District Council to relocate the Visit Derry Information Centre from Foyle Street into the city centre. Thanks to funding from Council, the Department for Communities, the Department for Economy and Tourism NI, work commenced on the project to put in place a world-class tourist facility for the city and region.

Welcoming the completion of the works and the opening of the new facility, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr Brian Tierney said the opening of the new visitor information office was a significant milestone for Derry and the wider region.

He said: “This is a fantastic facility and I am hugely impressed with the work that has been done to create this world-class centre in the heart of our city. This is a very important tourism capital project for Council and all our partners. We believe that it will greatly benefit our tourism business and domestic and overseas visitors and allow us to showcase and promote our tourism product in a much more animated way to a wider audience.

“This facility will enhance the entire Waterloo Place area of the city and bring new life and activity into a key retail area in the city centre. We believe this location, right in the heart of the city centre and adjacent to the historic city walls, will be popular with tourists as Guildhall Square and Waterloo Place is a central hub for visitors to the city and that it will also greatly help retailers and local businesses in that area of the city centre.”

The Chief Executive of Tourism NI, John McGrillen commented; “This is a significant project for tourism in Derry~Londonderry and we are delighted to support it. The new visitor centre will provide an interactive experience with enhanced digital offering and combined with the new central location, this will allow visitors to easily access information on everything the city has to offer. This new interactive visitor centre also compliments Tourism NI’s new experience brand, Embrace a Giant Spirit and sends a clear message to the people here that they should stay home, support local and explore what is on our doorstep.”

Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín said: “I am delighted that my Department has been able to support this project to relocate the Visit Derry Visitor Information Centre to a more central location.  The new state of the art facility offers a unique and inspirational visitor experience in an attractive and accessible setting and will provide a much needed boost to the city’s tourism offering.  This investment is timely as we work to support the economic recovery of our town and city centres from the impacts of Covid-19The completion of this project will breathe much needed new life into the city centre at a difficult time for traders.”

Economy Minister Diane Dodds said: “Northern Ireland is world-renowned for its tourism and hospitality offering and this new centre showcases the many visitor attractions here in Londonderry and the surrounding areas. With so many people staycationing this year, I hope as many people as possible will use the new centre to find out something about their local area, and take advantage of the many wonderful tourism experiences and visitor destinations right on their doorstep.”

Since 2016 Visit Derry has been operating its marketing and administrative functions from the Waterloo Place building. As part of the relocation, the remaining front of house tourist staff will relocate from Foyle Street to the newly refurbished Waterloo Place location.

Funding for the project has been provided by Tourism NI, the Department for Communities, the Department for the Economy and Derry City and Strabane District Council.

Construction work commenced in December 2019 and was suspended temporarily as a result of COVID-19 but recommenced in recent weeks to facilitate the official opening.

Derry and Strabane’s fantastic eateries and artisan producers are taking centre stage with the unveiling of the LegenDerry food and drink brand.

The brand, launched by the local Food and Drink Network and supported by the Council, brings together our finest food-focused talent and puts the City and District firmly on the foodie map for locals and visitors alike.

Our innovative, authentic producers, growers, chefs, brewers and restaurateurs are celebrated on the new LegenDerry food website and in marketing material, including this video.

On 28th Jan 2020, 7 students and 2 teachers from the Changchun City, Jilin Province, China traveled to the Derry City and Strabane Region to learn more about our culture; education techniques and to improve their English language skills.

International Language Students from Changchun City, Jilin Province, China, meet with the Mayor of Derry City & Strabane District Council

Working in partnership with the Mandarin Speakers Association in Derry, a number of students traveled to Derry to undertake an intensive English Language course and learn more about our culture.  This year’s students from the city of Changchun/Jilin Province spent 3 weeks in the city undertaking lessons at both Ulster University and North West Regional College. The students and staff also integrated into 2 primary schools (The Model Primary School & Oakgrove Integrated Primary School) during their time in the city and hosted the Mandarin Speakers Association Chinese New Year Celebration in Ulster University on 26/01/20.

These students then returned to China and act as informal ambassadors for our city. The visit of the international students takes place annually and is part of Derry City and Strabane Council’s ongoing international engagement in China.

A Health Innovation Hub promoting innovative solutions to support living well independently has been launched at the North West Regional College (NWRC).

The Design Innovation Assisted Living Centre (DIAL) in the heart of the college’s Strand Road campus, is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland and provides a space where education, business, and the health and social care sector can work together.

The state-of-the-art facility is also home to NWRC’s Academy of Enhanced Care and Clinical Skills providing flexible and bespoke learning for the professional workforce, informal carers, and the community.

Geraldine Lavery, Department Head of Health and Social Care at NWRC, said the DIAL centre will make a significant impact to the lives of local people and their carers who are facing the challenge of living independently at home.

She added: “DIAL is a health innovation hub with a focus to promote collaboration, learning and innovation so that improved practice models and solutions are developed that will support independence and a quality of life for greater numbers of people to live well at home.” 

The opening of DIAL comes with the news that NWRC has been designated as Health & Social Care ‘Curriculum Hub’ for the further education sector in Northern Ireland. As the leadership College for NI, NWRC will lead the HSC sector in curriculum development for Health & Social Care from level 1 to 5.

With a high spec home simulation centre, DIAL will operate as a demonstration centre for solutions to support independence, ranging from specialised equipment, e-health, and smart bespoke digital including Alexa and Eye Gaze. It also contains a dissemination and conference facility with leading edge video/audio capture technology, external live streaming capability, product demonstrations and regional learning networks

DIAL, which launched in November, has been developed by the college in partnership with the Department for the Economy and Connected NI. It also offers advice clinics for clients, carers and businesses, as well as live modelling of design guidelines, standards and principles (e.g. design for dementia).