Other News In Brief

Randalstown Named Best Kept Town in Ireland 2024

Randalstown has been crowned the Best Kept Town across the island of Ireland at the prestigious Ireland's Best Kept Town Awards 2024.

Not only did the town in County Antrim win the Best Kept Small Town category, but it also claimed the overall award, surpassing tough competition from towns and villages across the entire island.

Antrim and Newtownabbey's communities excelled in the competition, with three of their towns achieving top positions in four categories. Ballynure was honoured as a finalist in the Best Village category and Antrim Town was recognised in the top four of the Large Urban Centre category.

The judges were notably impressed by how local businesses and the community collaborated effectively to significantly improve the town. They highlighted the active involvement of all residents and the strong "sense of pride" shared by everyone involved.

The Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Councillor Neil Kelly said: "I am extremely proud that three of our villages and towns in the Borough have excelled in Ireland’s Best Kept Awards. Randalstown’s journey from being a finalist last year to claiming the overall winner of this competition is an incredible achievement. This huge accolade is a testament to the commitment and endless effort of Tidy Randalstown, our staff and its residents who take immense pride in their town.

"Ballynure and Antrim have both performed exceptionally well in their efforts to enhance the appearance, cleanliness, and commitment to preserving the natural environment. Congratulations to all those involved in making our Borough’s towns and villages wonderful places to live."

Doreen Muskett, Chair of the NI Amenity Council stated: "I am absolutely delighted that Randalstown has been named the overall winner at the Ireland’s Best Kept Town Awards 2024, they are a very active community group who work extremely hard day and night throughout the whole year, they are to be commended for their efforts in keeping the town so tidy and well presented.

"Each resident should be very proud of this incredible achievement, there are only five awards to be won, so to even be nominated for the all-Ireland is a massive achievement for our town and villages."

Tourism Ireland Visits Mourne Gullion Strangford Geopark

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council recently hosted Alice Mansergh, Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland, at Mourne Gullion Strangford Geopark.

This visit was part of a strategic effort to build stronger ties with important tourism industry partners and to explore opportunities for future collaboration.

The Geopark is celebrated for its stunning landscapes, significant geological heritage and diverse tourism attractions. During her visit, Ms. Mansergh met with local businesses to discuss shared objectives and strategies aimed at improving the overall visitor experience.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Pete Byrne stated: "We are delighted to welcome Ms. Mansergh to Mourne Gullion Strangford Geopark and to provide an opportunity for her to engage with our local tourism providers as we continue to promote our stunning area on the International market. This highlights the importance of collaboration and innovation in driving sustainable growth in our region."
News Image
Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland, Alice Mansergh said: "It was a pleasure to spend time in the Mourne Gullion Strangford Geopark and to hear directly from tourism providers about their passion and commitment to offering a first-class experience for overseas visitors.

"We know tourists are drawn to visit Northern Ireland based on our exceptional scenery, rich heritage and warm hospitality. This destination has so much to offer from mountain adventures and chocolate making to whiskey distilleries and castle stays.

"Tourism Ireland has an extensive programme of promotions well underway for Northern Ireland in 2024, including our recent campaign with County Down native Rory Best and ‘The Telegraph’ shining a spotlight on all the great experiences on offer in the area. So far this year we have hosted tourism businesses from the region at key industry events including ITB in Berlin and IMEX in Frankfurt and welcomed travel professionals and specialist media from the US, Belgium, and the Netherlands on familiarisation visits.

"Destinations like here have so much to offer visitors and we look forward to continued collaboration with our tourism partners with the aim of increasing the value of overseas tourism to Northern Ireland, sustainably supporting economies, communities, and the environment."

Ulster Rugby Holds Primary School Festival

Ulster Rugby has held its annual Primary School Festival, where aspiring young rugby players got the opportunity to play at Kingspan Stadium.

SPAR NI sponsored the event, marking their role as Ulster Rugby's first community partner and the main sponsor of Ulster Rugby's Mini Rugby in 2022. This partnership has facilitated the club in extending activities to hundreds of schools and clubs throughout Northern Ireland during the last two years.

Eight schools from Northern Ireland participated in each day of the festival, totaling 480 pupils across the four days. Each team had the chance to visit the stadium and compete against three teams of 15 players from different schools.

The festival emphasises enjoyment and fairness for the children, scores are not recorded and no winners are declared. This approach allows players to simply enjoy the opportunity of playing at the prestigious venue.

Bronagh Luke from SPAR NI, said: "It's at the heart of the SPAR NI brand to support our local communities and this partnership allows us to do that by not only supporting the next generation of rugby players, coaches and referees from across Northern Ireland but bringing young people together to learn team building and the additional skills that team sports bring.

"The Primary Schools Festival is a great opportunity for aspiring young rugby players to learn those skills, meet new people and of course to play at Kingspan Stadium and our sponsorship of this event allows us to interact with more families from local communities and beyond."

Hugh McCaughey, Interim CEO at Ulster Rugby, commented: "We want to thank SPAR NI for their sponsorship of our Mini rugby events for another season. Activities such as the Primary School Festival have many health and well-being benefits for the young people taking part, and SPAR NI’s sponsorship enables us to continue holding events like this across the province.

"SPAR NI work to support their community in the same way we do here at Ulster Rugby, and our ongoing partnership allows us to come together to support more families, create more participation opportunities and have a bigger impact on our local community."

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

14 November 2008
All-Ireland Tourism Showcases In London
Tourism Ministers from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland supported local tourism at the industry's largest trade exhibition, in London, this week.
18 August 2022
Time To 'Supercharge' Town Centre Regeneration
It is time to "supercharge" town centre regeneration and capture the opportunities of a green economy, Alliance Environment spokesperson John Blair MLA has said.
23 July 2014
Planning Granted For Mixed Use Development In Strabane
Planning permission has been granted for a large, mixed-use development in Strabane, County Tyrone.
04 February 2014
NI Planning To Adopt 'Town Centres First' Policy
The Department of the Environment has said Northern Ireland's planning system could be reformed to adopt a "town centres first" policy. Environment Minister Mark Durkan has announced a 12-week public consultation on issues such as building in the countryside, tourism, transport, telecommunications and housing.
23 May 2012
"Act Fast" To Save NI Town Centres, Politicians Told
Retailers have called on the Northern Ireland Executive to 'act fast' to save high street shopping. At an emergency summit today, the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIRRTA) will recommend 50 ways to solve towns' problems.