Sperrins Sculpture Trail 

    

Derry City and Strabane District Council, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and Mid Ulster District Council have worked in partnership to develop a Sperrin Sculpture Trail which will invest in the natural and built heritage of the Sperrins and as a result encourage rural tourism and out of state visitors whilst preserving the natural assets of the rural community.

The development was part funded by the three councils with upwards of 75% of funding from DAERA under the Rural Tourism Scheme (“RTS”).

Visitors will use the stunning walking trails and dramatic driving and cycle routes to travel between the sculptures enabling them to immerse themselves in the cultural heritage of the Sperrins.

The Giants of the Sperrins Sculpture Trail is a hugely exciting and innovative tourism project created to showcase the epic stories associated with the Sperrins, the inspirational nature of the landscape and the giant spirit of its people. The trail consists of three distinct, innovative, and unique yet linked artworks by the internationally renowned artist Thomas Dambo.

Installed at three different locations all within the Sperrins region The Giants of the Sperrins are born from the geology, archaeology and heritage of the Sperrins. They evoke the mystical, and celebrate the ancient, intriguing and atmospheric natural beauty and history of the region. They embody past, present and future and speak specifically of their location:

  • Nowanois, the Seanchaí or storyteller recalls times and generations gone by;
  • Darach, the Guardian watches over the present;
  • Ceoldán The Stargazer looks to the future, and the unknown.

They call us to explore the story of the many generations that have helped shaped this magical landscape and to appreciate their rich and enduring culture; they call us into the landscape -  to notice, reflect, embrace and cherish this place…the Sperrins.

The Giants of the Sperrins

Where to find the Giants in the Sperrins?

Location 1: Nowanois: The Storytellers – Glenelly Valley near Cranagh

Address: 274 Glenelly Road, Omagh, BT79 8LS 

Location 2: Darach: The Guardian – Mullaghcarn Mountain
Address: Gortin Glen Forest Park, Glen Park Road, Gortin, County Tyrone, BT79 7SU

Location 3: Ceoldán: The Stargazer – Davagh Forest
Address: OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory, Davagh Forest, 155 Davagh Road, Omagh BT79 8JQ


Thomas Dambo


Find Out More About The Artist – Thomas Dambo


PRESS RELEASE

A Giant Experience Awakens in the Sperrins as Sculpture Trail is launched

4 July 2023

Today saw the official launch of the Sperrins Sculpture Trail and unveiling of the three giant art installations that have been created to showcase the geology, archaeology and heritage of the Sperrins.

This innovative tourism project showcases a trio of interrelated and unique art pieces created by world acclaimed artist Thomas Dambo, located at three sites in the Sperrins at Mullaghcarn, along the Glenelly Valley near Cranagh, and at Davagh Forest.

These innovative and inspiring artistic creations celebrate the ancient and intriguing natural beauty of the region and embraces the giant spirit of the local landscape.

The Sperrins Sculpture Trail is delivered by Derry City and Strabane District Council in partnership with Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and Mid Ulster District Council and is part of a wider plan to promote this popular area of natural, unspoilt beauty and drive rural tourism and investment in the local natural and built heritage.

The Sperrins Sculpture Trail is delivered through the Rural Tourism Scheme as part of the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 with funding support of over £1.32m from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) with match funding totalling £568k from the partner Councils.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Patricia Logue, speaking at the site of the trail at the Glenelly Valley site near Cranagh said she was hugely supportive of the project and very impressed with the giant sculptures.

She said: “I am delighted that this hugely important tourism project for the Sperrins is now complete and ready to be actively marketed and promoted as a major tourism attraction for this really beautiful scenic area. I am confident that it will bring much needed investment to the region and encourage visitors from across the globe to visit our amazing rural heartlands, whilst preserving the natural assets for our rural communities and linking in with the work being done at a regional level to embrace the giant spirit of our local landscape and natural environment.”

The Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Dominic Molloy speaking about the Davagh site said: ““It is my pleasure to formally welcome Ceoldán the Giant to the Sperrins and to OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory, one of only two International Dark Sky parks on the island of Ireland. The inclusion of such a striking sculpture in the ancient heart of Mid Ulster can only add to the exciting experiences already in place that are open to our local and international visitors. In forging this link with our neighbouring Council areas, we are working collaboratively to maximise the benefits for our local rural economies west of the Bann.”

Speaking about the project, Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Thomas O Reilly, said:

“We are thrilled to be a part of the Sperrins Sculpture Trail featuring a trio of giant sculptures. These interrelated and unique art pieces created by world-acclaimed artist Thomas Dambo not only showcase his artistic brilliance but also highlights the natural, unspoiled beauty of the region. It will serve as a catalyst to drive rural sustainable tourism, attract investment, and preserve our local natural and built heritage. We anticipate the Trail will captivate visitors locally, regionally, and internationally, leaving them with unforgettable giant experiences of the Sperrins”.

Welcoming news of the completion of the project, DAERA Director of Rural Affairs Teresa O’Neill said: “ I am delighted that DAERA,  through the Rural Tourism Scheme strand of the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, has been able to support this project. 

Tourism is one of the key economic drivers for Northern Ireland and I congratulate the three Councils involved for developing and delivering unique and iconic artistic creations at the three sites in the Sperrins. This innovative project will attract additional visitors to this rural part of Northern Ireland and will therefore provide a timely boost to the local economy”. 

A spokesperson from McGurk Architects added: “As a local firm based in the Mid Ulster area, McGurk Architects are proud to have led and managed this unique project from design competition stage through to final completion on site.

In July 2022, Colm McGurk (Director and founder of McGurk Architects) sadly passed away, suddenly and after a short illness. Colm’s research into the history, geology and folklore of the Sperrins was instrumental to the award of this contract to McGurk Architects and Colm told everyone he met about the Giants of Sperrin.  

We believe that the Giants enhance the identity of our region and trust that they will be cherished and enjoyed by many future generations.

Artist Thomas Dambo said: "Working in Northern Ireland has been a great challenge. Most of my sculptures around the world are made from trash like discarded pallet wood, because my main mission is to show the world how to transform trash into treasure. But for The Sperrins I was asked to build my sculptures to last for 60 years and this has been a push to learn how to work with longevity in a responsible way.

“To make 'The Three Giants and the Campfires in the Sky' a reality I had to learn about responsible forestry, European Oak and natural preservatives. I also salvaged tons of residual wood from Danish furniture makers to make sure my work would still be in line with my core values. Because we must leave this planet a better place!

“I have worked through Chinese bureaucracy, Caribbean heatwaves and climbed steep slopes to build on the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee - but what met my crew in the misty hills of the Sperrins made me realise that most of the world doesn't have weather - Northern Ireland though - you've got weather! Thank you."

The three locations are at Cranagh (Derry City and Strabane District Council area); at Mullaghcarn (Fermanagh and Omagh District Council area) and at Davagh Forest (Mid Ulster District Council area).

Copenhagen based artist Thomas Dambo and his team have worked alongside the design and construction consultancy team McGurk Architects to take forward the development of this hugely exciting and innovative project that will not only showcase the epic stories associated with the Sperrins, the inspirational nature of the landscape but also the giant spirit and welcome of its people.


Giants arriving ahead of Sperrin Sculpture Trail launch

01 June 2022

Funders for the new Sperrins Sculpture Trail project were recently given an exclusive preview of the giant steps taken to date towards progressing with this innovative tourism project that is expected to be unveiled later this year.

Work is at an advanced stage at three site locations in the Sperrins in preparation for the arrival of the Giants, a trio of interrelated and unique art pieces being created by world acclaimed artist Thomas Dambo.

The art pieces are part of the Sperrins Sculpture Trail being delivered by Derry City and Strabane District Council in partnership with Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and Mid Ulster District Council, in this popular area of natural, unspoilt beauty in an effort to drive rural tourism and investment in the local natural and built heritage.

The Sperrins Sculpture Trail is delivered through the Rural Tourism Scheme as part of the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 with funding support of over £1.32m from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) with match funding totalling £568k from the partner Councils.

Work is at an advanced stage at all three of the sites and this week funders, partners and community representatives were given an update on site of the work carried out to date ahead of the arrival of the giants and the Sculpture Trail ‘big reveal’ later this year.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Alderman Graham Warke visited the Sperrin site and said he was impressed with the progress to date.

He said: “I am delighted to see this giant step forward in this hugely important tourism project for the Sperrins that will bring much needed investment to the region and encourage visitors to our rural heartlands, whilst preserving the natural assets for our rural communities.”

Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Paul McLean was impressed with the progress made at the Davagh site, saying:

“The sculpture that is near completion at this site is very impressive to see and ties in perfectly with its proximity to OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory. Thomas Dambo’s work is internationally renowned and has the potential to encourage national and international visitors to the Sperrins, bringing additional spend and investment to our area. Local people can also enjoy having access to the works right on their doorstep.”

Speaking about the project Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Errol Thompson said; “I believe that the Sperrins Sculpture Trail will be huge attractor to Omagh and the Sperrins for people of all ages to experiences and for generations to come. This investment will help further our ambition to support our rural economies and make the Sperrins a destination of choice for adventure tourism for visitors and tourists from near and far.

Outdoor activities have become an even bigger part of all of our lives over the past two years. Through forging links with our neighbouring councils, this project showcases how we are developing and enhancing the fantastic natural amenities in the Sperrins, so more and more people can access and enjoy them.”

Rural Affairs Minister, Edwin Poots MLA said: “These are exciting and unique projects for Northern Ireland and will be among the ‘must see visitor’ attractions. I am delighted that my Department has part-funded just over £1.32m toward the total project costs of £1.7m under the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 Rural Tourism Scheme.”

Minister Poots continued: “Tourism is one of the key economic sectors for Northern Ireland providing jobs and livelihoods and supporting many local businesses, including many in rural areas. These striking sculptures will attract additional visitors to rural Northern Ireland and provide a much needed boost to the local economy.”

Artist Thomas Dambo said: "It's been a true delight to work in the hills of Sperrins, though for the three giants: Nowanois, Ceoldán and Darach it has been a rather adventurous conception and journey through rain, hail, fog, low hanging clouds, and a wind like no other. Delving into Irish history has been an eyeopener. Maybe the solution to the challenges we face today, can be found in the ancient wisdom of balance."

The three locations are at Cranagh (Derry City and Strabane District Council area); at Mullaghcarn (Fermanagh and Omagh District Council area) and at Davagh Forest (Mid Ulster District Council area).

The Cranagh site is the most advanced and almost nearing completion, with Davagh Forest also nearing completion while works are ongoing at the Mullaghcarn site.

Last year, world renowned, Copenhagen based artist Thomas Dambo and the design and construction consultancy team McGurk Architects were appointed to take forward the development of this hugely exciting and innovative project that will not only showcase the epic stories associated with the Sperrins, the inspirational nature of the landscape but also the giant spirit and welcome of its people.

The sense of curiosity and suspense ahead of the arrival of the Giants is creating a real sense of anticipation and inquisitiveness among the local communities in the Sperrins.

Details of the official launch and big reveal are expected to be announced later in the summer.

For more information, please visit: https://sperrinspartnershipproject.com/sperrins-trail