Sperrins Sculpture Trail 

Derry City and Strabane District Council, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and Mid Ulster District Council are working 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 is part funded by the three councils with upwards of 75% of funding from DAERA under the Rural Tourism Scheme (“RTS”).

The Sperrin Sculpture Trail will consist of three innovative, unique yet linked artworks commissioned by an internationally renowned artist which will be installed at key locations within the Sperrins region. 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.

Although the sculptures will be considered tourist attractions individually, they are linked by one story so that when tourists visit one sculpture, they will be enticed to travel to the other sculptures to appreciate the complete story told by the sculptures. This will provide a structured trail which allows visitors to appreciate the stunning location of the Sperrins resulting in tourists extending their stay in the Sperrins region. In addition, as the sculptures are set in three different Council areas, it allows partnership between councils to create an international tourist attraction and a focused marketing plan for the Sperrins. This in itself will provide a platform for further joint working to promote and develop the Sperrins as an area and a tourism offering.

The increase in visitors to the Sperrins as a result of the Sculpture Trail will provide opportunities for further investment in the Sperrin region by way of accommodation, restaurants/cafes and activity-based tourism along the Sculpture Trail route.

The proposed locations are: Sperrin Heritage Centre in Cranagh, Mullaghcarn Mountain which is located on the edge of Gortin Glen Forest Park and Davagh Forest. Many of the proposed locations have car parking, walking and cycling trails and play parks. It is proposed that there will be further development at some of the proposed locations however this will not fall under the current Rural Tourism Scheme but will be funded separately by the three Councils.


Thomas Dambo

Find Out More About The Artist – Thomas Dambo


Wednesday, 01 June 2022

Giants arriving ahead of Sperrin Sculpture Trail launch

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