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Sculpture of local natural scientist unveiled at Arthur Cottage

Pictured is Mayor Cllr William McCaughey with representatives from Bann Maine West Community Cluster Group and Craig Parish Church alongside Welig Heritage Crafts who were commissioned for this project.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor William McCaughey, carried out the official unveiling of an intricate willow sculpture of noted botanist Matilda Knowles, at Arthur Cottage near Cullybackey.

Elaine Burke of Welig Heritage Crafts expertly crafted the willow sculpture, with skill and imagination. It has been installed in time to mark this year’s NI Science Festival.

The Mayor commented:

“This beautiful willow sculpture, set alongside a mini-orchard of heritage apple varieties, is a taster of the improvements we are working towards for Arthur Cottage as a presidential homestead and as one of our significant heritage assets in the Borough.

“This sculpture of natural scientist Matilda Knowles is integral to a wider Cultivating Change project being delivered by Council. Our project aims to raise public awareness of traditional food growing skills and the importance of horticulture and bio-diversity in the context of climate change.

“I am pleased that we have such strong interest from our community volunteers, and that both they and young children are getting a chance to learn more about caring for our environment and sustainable food practices through this project.

“For example, Buick Memorial Primary School pupils are learning about the importance of lichen as an environmental indicator during a Galgorm Woods walk, and our volunteers will be learning about a community fridge initiative at Eden allotments during their best practice study visit.

“I would like to thank the project funders Northern Ireland Museums Council and the National Lottery Heritage Fund for the range of engagement opportunities they have helped us provide through a Museums Challenge: Climate Change Grant of £17,550.

“I would also like to thank Bann Maine West Community Cluster Group and Craigs Parish Church for supporting this initiative within the local community.”

Other planned activities through the Cultivating Change project include a series of horticulture workshops and an Ulster potato basket weaving session.

To tie in with the installation of the sculpture, Dr Matthew Jebb, Director of the National Botanical Gardens, Dublin will give a fascinating illustrated talk on the work of botanist Matilda Cullen Knowles (1864 -1933) through an on-line Zoom webinar.

The free webinar hosted by Mid and East Antrim Council will be held on 3 March from 7pm. To book your place visit:

There will also be a Cultivating Change open day event at Arthur Cottage from 11am to 1pm on Saturday, 19 March. This free event will feature a cooking demonstration over the open fire and a ‘Love your Leftovers’ talk by Bellahill Cookery School; traditional music and bird box building for children. Grow your own herb boxes will be distributed to take home.

Due to site restrictions, car parking will not be available onsite. A shuttle mini-bus service will be offered between the Reformed Presbyterian Church car park in the village and Arthur Cottage.

Prior booking is recommended. To reserve your place please contact the Visitor Information Centre at The Braid by telephone Monday –Friday 10 am – 4pm: 028 2563 5010 or Email:


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