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Heritage funding for local projects including Rathlin Lighthouse & Whitehead Dye Garden




Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has announced that 29 heritage projects are to benefit from Covid support funding.


A total of £241,900 in grants will be awarded to the initiatives through the Community Heritage Fund, which was funded by the Department for Communities and distributed by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.


The Community Heritage Fund aims to support small-scale projects which help to connect communities to the heritage in their local area.


Minister Hargey said:


I am delighted to announce that my Department is supporting 29 new projects.


“These small projects will have a big impact in our local communities. They will give a much needed boost to our community based activity and create new heritage content for us all to enjoy.


“The projects will be delivered in various locations including Rathlin Island, East Belfast, Strabane and online. They will deliver new things, inspired by old things – stories, heritage trails, crafts and gardens, and much more. Check out The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s website for more details of projects that are happening near you.”


Grants range from £3,000 to £10,000 and will be administered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund on the Department’s behalf.


Letters of offer will be issued this week for the 29 projects which are to be delivered before the end of March 2021.


Paul Mullan, Director, Northern Ireland, The National Lottery Heritage Fund said:


“Our local places have become more important than ever throughout this pandemic, and through this fund, we hope to encourage people to get to know the heritage on their doorstep that bit better.


“We’re grateful to the Department for Communities for providing the funding and we’re delighted to fund a diverse range of projects which will make a huge impact on many communities across Northern Ireland.”


The Community Heritage Fund was just one of the funds which was launched by the Department to support the arts, culture, heritage and language sectors impacted by Covid-19.


The funding will be used for a wide range of projects including delivering video storytelling sessions to people with dementia, providing genealogy workshops and developing heritage trails.


Rathlin Development and Community Association (RDCA) will use their £9,700 grant to tell the story of Rathlin Island’s East Lighthouse.

Through the Rathlin Lighthouse Lives project, they will record and share the stories associated with generations of lighthouse families. These families stayed at the East Lighthouse whilst staffing the island’s three lighthouses and as well as bringing new skills, became a treasured part of the island’s heritage.

Working alongside oral history experts, the team will carry out oral interviews with lighthouse keepers past and present, including a video interview with the principal keeper for the East Lighthouse. They will also capture video footage inside the lighthouse as it looks today.

The project will culminate in an event with the local community, providing a unique opportunity to share the recorded stories and highlight the unique role these families have played in the wider Rathlin community.


David Quinney Mee, Community Development Worker, Rathlin Community Development Association, commented:

“We know too well how the island’s oral tradition can begin to weaken and be chipped away by change. The lighthouses are automated now and don’t have keepers in the same way; that movement of staff and families who became part of the community has gone. If we are to capture those histories, it needs doing now while they are still accessible and well-recognised. “This project, “East Lighthouse Lives”, supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Department for Communities, is an excellent opportunity to take advantage of the moment. We hope that soon, these gathered stories and images can find a home in a re-developed East Lighthouse Centre that can again become a thriving part of the island’s life.”


Mid & East Antrim Borough Council have been awarded a grant of £10,000 to regenerate a former quarry, which is now a nature reserve, popular with local dog walkers and wildlifeenthusiasts.

Funding will enable the council to develop a dye garden on the site, providing natural eco friendly dye pigments for textiles, knitting yarns, soap making, and even artist paints and pastels. The council hopes the dye garden will kick start the regeneration of a culture of craft and fully integrate wool back into the community, both economically and socially.

As part of the project, there will also be significant engagement with the local community. The council plans to recruit up to 20 volunteers and also offer training around dyes,as well as host community gardening workshops.

The garden will be accessible to a wide range of people, including young people and those living with a disability.

Funding will also be used to update signage to highlight key heritage features of site (quarry, wool industry, railway).

Details of other projects across Northern Ireland to revive funding are listed below: