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Breathing new life into Seskinore Forest

27 September 2021
Northern Ireland

The Architectural Heritage Fund is delighted to have awarded Seskinore Rural Community Group with a Project Viability Grant to allow them to explore the possibility of re-using a group of historic buildings in Seskinore Forest, just outside Omagh. The buildings form part of what was previously the McClintock family estate, now owned by Forest Service NI. 

The estate covers 335 acres of forest and contains a range of mid-19th century buildings, including a farm and stables, a substantial walled garden, the McClintock family grave, two former WW2 munition stores, and an ice/cold store. All the buildings are currently vacant and in various states of disrepair.

Seskinore (from the Irish ‘large bog/marsh’) is a remote rural village with a population of 162. The community group engages with local people to help establish their needs and provides social services and educational and recreational facilities. It will use this grant to engage a business planning consultant and to work with its partners (Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and DAERA/Forest Service) to identify viable options for the unused buildings, which will need to have the support of the community and can realistically be delivered.  

It will allow them to explore how they can integrate these plans with the forest, creating inclusive, family-friendly access to the natural environment and to the heritage assets. The historic buildings have the potential to provide forest education facilities, building on the interest shown by the local primary school and the wider public’s appetite to engage with the outdoors, as well as flexible community meeting and events spaces.

The grant will also cover the costs of commissioning a conservation accredited surveyor to assess the condition of the buildings and give a broad sense of the costs involved in the various phases, consequently, allowing them to devise an overall masterplan for the site and buildings.

 

Robert Riddell, Chairman of Seskinore Rural Community Group said:

“Seskinore Rural Community Group are very pleased to receive a Project Viability Grant from the Architectural Heritage Fund. This grant will help provide the group with much needed funds to start the journey of utilising the local forest to its full potential for the local community. Over the past number of years it has been sad to see the buildings in the forest fall into such a bad state of repair, especially for local people with memories of these buildings in better times.  The Group look forward to working with the Architectural Heritage Fund on the Seskinore Forest Project and utilising the buildings for years to come as part of a revitalised community asset.”

Matthew Mckeague, CEO of the Architectural Heritage Fund said:

These mid-19th Century buildings in Seskinore Forest hold great potential to help people interact with both nature and heritage. We are pleased to have awarded Seskinore Rural Community Group a Project Viability Grant to consider their best options for the reuse of the buildings. The group have been doing impressive work to engage with local people and we hope that the grant will provide the village with the facilities to help them come together and enhance their appreciation of the outdoors.

 

  1. The Architectural Heritage Fund is a registered charity, working since 1976 to promote the conservation and sustainable re-use of historic buildings for the benefit of communities across the UK, particularly in economically disadvantaged areas. It is the only specialist heritage social investor in the UK, and provides advice, development grants and loans.

 

  1. The Heritage Transformed programme in NI is funded by the Department for Communities, the Pilgrim Trust, and The Garfield Weston Foundation.

 

  1. For media enquiries, please contact Rita Harkin on 07789 758080 / rita.harkin@ahfund.org.ukor Oliver Brodrick-Ward on 020 79250199 / oliver.brodrick-ward@ahfund.org.uk