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Towers of Strength in the Mournes!

08 July 2015 15:19

If you’ve ever gone hiking in the Mourne Mountains, chances are you’ve seen one of the three distinctive stone towers that sit atop three mountains in the area; Slieve Commedagh, Slieve Meelmore and Northern Ireland’s highest peak, Slieve Donard. 

The three ‘shelter towers’ are all linked by the 22 mile-long Mourne Wall.   The towers, built a century ago to protect workers from the elements, have acted as landmarks ever since.  However, they had by recent years fallen into disrepair, and in order to secure their future, significant investment and work was required.  This has now been completed.

In total, approximately £64,000 has been invested to carry out essential maintenance and refurbishment work on the three towers.  Financial support was provided by the Mourne Mountains Landscape Partnership (funded primarily by the Heritage Lottery Fund and NIEA) and the Rural Development Programme (via the Down Rural Area Partnership and Southern Organisation for Action in Rural Area).

Celine Rodgers of NI Water said: ‘‘We are delighted to have secured the refurbishment of these great assets in the heart of the Mournes.  The towers are well known to hillwalkers and campers as landmarks, and it is important that these unique structures are maintained as they form part of the built heritage of the area. 

‘‘This project would not have been possible without the active support of all our partners, and we are grateful for the opportunity to work together on this project.  Our co-operation has ensured the survival of these valuable landmarks to be appreciated by future generations as well as continued practical use as shelters for hikers caught in poor weather conditions.

‘‘The Mournes remain vital to NI Water today as a source of drinking water; approximately 130 million litres of water is produced by Silent Valley alone every single day.  We are always pleased to welcome the public to our site at Silent Valley Mountain Park, and we encourage people to come and see everything the area has to offer during the summer months.

‘‘However, one significant issue remains outstanding; littering in and around the towers has become a big problem in recent years, and given their location, it is very difficult to police this.  Along with our partners, we hope that the restoration of the towers will encourage more responsible behaviour from hillwalkers – we want the towers to be an asset everyone can enjoy, free from littering and other antisocial activity.

‘‘NI Water looks forward to an ongoing role as a major stakeholder in the Mournes and will always do whatever possible to enhance this wonderful natural asset.’’

ENDS.

All media enquiries to NI Water Press Office on 028 9035 4757 or email press.office@niwater.com

Notes to Editors:

More information on Silent Valley can be found at http://www.niwater.com/silent-valley/

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