Confirmation of resignation of Christine Gibson as Chair of Greencastle Area Residents Group

We confirm that Christine Gibson is no longer Chairperson of Greencastle Area Residents Group. Christine resigned as Chairperson through a statement read by her mother at a public meeting held on 15th May 2015.

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GARG AGM Committee 29 April 2016

Chair: Eileen Sloan
Vice Chair: Christine McCormick
Secretary: Mary Jordan
Treasurer: Daiva Shepcar
Members: Sean Cunningham, Martin O’Rourke

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Protecting Greencastle GoFundMe

Calling on all ex-Pats, friends, family, the wider community and all those who support our campaign.

We’ve launched our online fundraising campaign to help towards the cost of providing professional guidance to our group. This expertise will enable us to continue our fight to prevent the proposed Ferry development.

Thank you to all kind donors who have supported us to date- you have helped us move a step closer to our goal.

We ask for support by way of a donation towards our online campaign to Protect Greencastle, and thank you in advance for your generosity.

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 The Applicant, on the request of Road Services, has submitted new plans outlining their proposed “upgrade”.
Some of the noteworthy points:

  1. Pro…perty owned by residents has been earmarked for the road boundary (no sale or permission granted)
  2. 39 times the Applicant was proven to over estimate the road width in the last plans. The current plan shows the same measurements.
  3. The Fair road is so faint we could hardly see it – no improvements marked here!
  4. The junction with Benagh Road has no improvements outlined.
  5. 26 widths are less than 5m!
  6. No footpaths or cycle paths included
  7. They have changed their minds on laybys! – They’ve disappeared from the plans! Perhaps because Roads Service requested footpaths where the laybys were located?

The road will not be safe for drivers, walkers, cyclists and horseriders. Making some parts of the road slightly wider will not make it safe with the additional two-way predicted traffic. Your thoughts?

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GARG to meet with planning, road services and Councillors

nature & wildlifeBIG DAY TODAY…
This morning GARG representatives and Dr Sue Christie, an environmental protection expert, are meeting with Planning, Roads Service and Councillors. This meeting has been convened only a week after the decison to defer the approval, which usually is given three weeks after this decision.

The Team have been working hard over the past week to put together all the issues that the Application has demonstrated to ignore policy, guidelines and residents’ concerns.

Keep your fingers crossed that we make enough impact today to save one of the Mournes’ best and most diverse assets.

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What is GARG?
Greencastle Area (including Benagh, Cranfield, Dunavil, Grange, Lurganconary and Millbay) Residents’ Group. A Community organisation that is reliant solely on volunteers.

What is our Aim?
Our aim is to protect the Greencastle area, both the people and our environment, to improve on what we have as resources and to promote and share our assets to the wider public..

How do we do this?
We do this is through strength in our membership. Working together we can make improvements to our lives here, whether it is making our internet faster or holding a farming festival – we can do it, together. We have so much potential here but need a common ground to communicate with each other and to understand each other’s needs better.

How does it work?
Working at the helm is Christine Gibson (Chair), Eileen Sloan (Vice Chair) and Daiva Shepcar (Treasurer). We are lucky to have another seven ordinary (a term used in Committees) members of the Committee. Together, we will represent you at regular meetings and work with our to make things happen.

How can I be involved?
You can join as a non-committee member by filling out a membership form if you haven’t already done so. If you would like a form please private message here and we will arrange for one to be delivered to you. Our annual nominal fee is only £5 per individual for the year or £10 for the family. This is used to cover admin and in setting up events and activities or campaigns.
If you would like to join please private message here and we will arrange forms to be delivered to your door.

What’s in it for me?
Being a member means you will be kept informed of progress, have your opinions, concerns and ideas represented at our committee meetings. From improving our mobile phone networks to the bigger roads issues, this is how we can work together to make things happen! You might even make more friends and have fun in the process!

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GARG AGM Highlights

Last night around 50 people turned out in the wild wind and cold to be involved in a very engaging and positive meeting. Highlights:

  1. The Chair, Secretary and Treasurer stood down at the meeting and their efforts were noted with thanks from the members
  2. A new GARG committee was formed which will meet for a handover of administration rights over the next week. Full details will be available here and on the website once the new committee has convened and roles agreed. Approximately two weeks from now.
  3. Of course the Ferry project was discussed at length and a new impetus is now in full force to strive ahead with the Keep it Green Campaign see link below. The next steps will be outlined in the minutes to follow.
  4. The new Committee is made up of new and long-standing residents of the Greencastle Area but it is important to note that they will be representing those from the Cranfield, Millbay and Dunavil and Grange areas.
  5. If you want to become a member please send a private message on greencastlecodown facebook page. £5 pa for individual and £10 pa for family membership. Membership will allow your issues to be brought to the table and discussed for action and you will also receive a card and newsletters. Monies raised go towards the running costs of the Committee.

GARG’s Aim:
To protect the residents and assets of the wider Greencastle area and enhance its potential for future generations.

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GARG respond to DOE approvial to Ferry Project

In light of the recent news that the DoE has approved the application for the Carlingford Ferry Project to be consolidated at Greencastle, we must reiterate our intention to protect Greencastle and its surrounding areas. If this proposal does go ahead as per the plans submitted to date, the ‘five-layby solution’ will bring with it: a high risk of road accidents; a decrease in number of visitors to our castle and beaches; an increase in traffic leading to delays, congestion and pollution; an irrevocable ruined landscape to be forgotten and no longer used for the film industry, and let us not forget about the whole business case – we the public, and every reader of this paper will be subsidising the ferry project just as we do for every other ferry venture in Northern Ireland. Is Greencastle as a tourist destination to be compromised for the increase in roll-on-roll-off commercial plans that are proposed for Greenore?

“We have carried out our own road survey and, in line with Transport NI, agree that the Applicant has totally ignored the gravity and potentially fatal implications of their ‘five-layby solution’ and ignored the minimum standard for road widths for the entire length of the Pier Road, their consultants, RPS have yet to approach landowners to ensure the whole road is indeed widened.  They have ignored the drainage systems, telegraph pole sites and all those residents whose houses and property lie on the roadside verges.

This is not the end for our Greencastle KIG (Keep it Green) campaign – this is where we build on existing public support and ensure that our voice is heard across Northern Ireland, the UK and beyond.”

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UPDATE – Road Service have “No Objection” and Frazer Ferries applies for Marine Licence

Since the last High Tide newsletter in December, GARG would like to bring your attention to the following developments:

On the 19th December TransportNI provided Planning/DOE with their response to the proposed Ferry Application and the proposed Road widening on Greencastle Pier Road.

The agreed response from Transportni is “No objections in principle to amended plans dated 20 December 2013”.

On the 14th January an advert appeared in the local Newspaper adverting that Frazer Ferries Ltd have applied for a Marine Licence for the proposed construction of ferry terminal facilities on seabed and land adjacent to 80 Greencastle Pier Road.

Individual and organisations have 42 days (from the 14th Jan) to make written representations.

The Department of Environment have confirmed that all necessary consultation responses have now been submitted and that all submissions would come under consideration at part of the decision making process.

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GARG AGM – 30th Jan 2015

The Greencastle Area Residents Group A.G.M. will be held on Friday 30th January 2015 in Grange Primary School at 7.30pm.

All members of GARG, including the residents of the Greencastle Pier Road and the Fair Road are strongly encouraged to attend.

The Agenda for the A.G.M. is as follows:

  • Welcome
  • Apologies
  • Minutes of the previous A.G.M.
  • Matters arising from the Minutes
  • Chairperson’s Report
  • Treasurer’s Report
  • Election of Committee Members
  • Discussion of Motions
  • A.O.B.

Non-residents and non-members are welcome to attend but will not be entitled to vote at the A.G.M.

We look forward to seeing you at the A.G.M. Apologies can be forwarded by email to or by telephone 028 417 63462. Notification, in writing, of any proposed motions should be forwarded to the Chairperson (Diarmuid Cahill ) or Secretary (Denise Cunningham ) no later than Friday 23rd January 2015.

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Greencastle Area Residents Group visited Stormont on Monday 3rd November to meet with Minister Danny Kennedy, the Minister responsible for Regional Development which includes Roads.

Greencastle Area Residents Group visited Stormont on Monday 3rd November to meet with Minister Danny Kennedy, the Minister responsible for Regional Development which includes Roads.

The Group highlighted the high level of risk to road safety, the demise of local tourism, the restrictions on accessibility and movability along the Pier Road and extending roads to the A2 in both NE and NW directions.

A representative from Road Services also attended the meeting to note concerns.

Recent information from the latter department has confirmed that there are indeed grave concerns with regards to road safety due to road widths proposed by the Applicant. Under a FOI request it was discovered that in July 2014 TransportNI could not accept the current road proposals.  From the initial recommendation of 7.3m wide (which is the standard width for new roads), the Applicant is proposing to leave sections of the Pier Road and beyond at a dangerous 4.25m width.

With the inevitable increase in speed that comes with high numbers of traffic, the risk of potential crashes will also rise and specifically at road entrances of local residencies and farming buildings.

The GARG Chair, Diarmuid Cahill highlighted many anomalies in the road improvement proposals to Minister Kennedy saying “the proposed road widths being discussed have been continuously reduced in size since the initial application from 6.1, to 5.5 and more recently, 4.8m. This is a serious cause for concern with regards to potential collisions and accessibility restrictions for residents”. As highlighted by one of the Ministers Engineers If speeds increase as a result of any widening—slight lines at existing accesses will not be adequate.  Minister Kennedy duly noted the concerns and said that if his decision was to endorse the project, he would set conditions addressing the road widths along the Pier Road and beyond.

Niall Cunningham, who is a local farmer who uses the Pier Road to herd cattle and large farming machinery, explained to the Minister how he will be directly affected by the proposal to the detriment of his livelihood and the risk to safety of his herds and farm workers.

Other representations were made to the Minister covering aspects including: the loss of tourism potential for Greencastle; the impact on the Mourne cycle route; emergency service access, environmental issues affecting wildlife and the lack of engagement with the majority of residents who are against the proposal.

The Minister confirmed that he is still in dialogue with the Applicant and that he is still gathering information to make an informed decision.

GARG would like to thank the Minister, Road Services, Karen McKevvit MLA and Margaret Ritchie MP for providing an open and receptive forum to discuss the debate.

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Minster Mark H Durkan listens to why Greencastle assets are at risk

Minister Mark H Durkan pictured with GARG members and MP Margaret Ritchie

Minister Mark H Durkan pictured with GARG members and MP Margaret Ritchie

For the last three years the voluntary local residents group in Greencastle (GARG) has been driving a vital and ever-pressing campaign to protect the local picturesque hamlet from being irrevocably destroyed by a ferry proposal*. On Monday 18 August, Mark H Durkan, the Environment Minister opened his door to listen and engage with representatives from the Group. In attendance were GARG members, DoE officers, Minister Mark H Durkan and Margaret Ritchie MP.

Within a relaxed environment, GARG delivered, led by the Chair, Diarmuid Cahill, a presentation supported by slides and a video, sharing their concerns and issues with Mr Durkan. MLA Margaret Ritchie showed support for the Group by giving examples of issues that she, herself, has highlighted as detrimental to Greencastle and the surrounding area.

GARG initially explained that cross-border relations are a positive step forward and projects like this should be a worthwhile investment. However, it is the site of Greencastle, in particular, that was in question and not the development of a new link between the North and South.

During the presentation, various anomalies in the Applicant’s proposal were highlighted, such as:

  • Tourism being one of the benefits of the proposal. While in reality, Greencastle’s tourism will suffer. The construction of a 150m concrete pier will adversely affect the biodiversity and ecosystem of the sealife including shellfish, seals and terns. The increase in traffic of up to 1000 cars per day would deter walkers, cyclists and horseriders and the film crews (from “The Fall” and “Our Robot Overlords”) from visiting. The site of the concrete pier would fall in plain view between the castle and the beach, ruining the landscape aspect. Rory Thompson from GARG added that the Proposal “does not make any reference to protecting our endangered indigenous wildlife”.
  • The absence of independent surveys carried out on the Pier Road and surrounding roads leading to Newry and Kilkeel. The Pier Road is not constructed to accommodate a consistent high flow of two-way traffic and the laybys suggested by the Applicant as a solution, would only cause bottle necks of traffic of up to 40 cars. Roads leading towards Kilkeel and Newry have not been addressed even though the 1000 cars per day will use these in both directions and there are many narrow “pinch” points that cannot accommodate such an increase. The one proposed plan received for the Pier Road actually shows the omission of a ruin that houses a bat roost. Bats are a protected species and as such, their habitats are also protected.
  • The Applicant has indicated that they have engaged with the local residents and collaborated in the development of the Proposal. In fact, the Applicant has only met the residents twice (once in 2011 and again in 2013) with the residents for a meeting at the very start of this process and since then has only been in regular contact with those who will benefit financially from this project. A Greencastle farmer and committee member, who attended, Niall Cunningham, explained “I will be directly affected by the traffic flow because of moving my livestock across the potentially busy road on a daily basis. My farm leads out to the road and various large tractors and machinery need time and space to manoeuvre, which will face the traffic head on. My fields are also on either side of the narrow Pier Road and to date, the Applicant has not said one word to me about road widening or access or any potential impact this will have on my livelihood”.
  • The sustainability of the Project. The Proposal states that the ferry will be used throughout the year and will be self-sustaining. GARG highlighted that at the most, visitors/tourists would use the ferry for up to six weeks in the year. The cost and journey times were also discussed at the meeting and showed that there was no cost or time benefit for using the ferry against the road between Dundalk and Newcastle.
  • The Proposal for the North (ie Greencastle) does not make any reference to commercial vehicles and only refers to visitors/tourists as potential users of the ferry. In contrast, the Proposal that was recently passed in the South (at Greenore) has included commercial customers.
  • Lack of imagery for the Project. In such a grand project of this scale, the Applicants have crucially neglected to provide any form of sketch or doctored image to demonstrate the impact of its construction. GARG had developed its own for the purpose of the meeting, taking into account the dimensions proposed.
  • The choice of Greencastle was determined because of its proximity to Greenore. In fact, other locations along the north-side of Carlingford Lough are equidistant or indeed closer than the planned route between Greenore (around Green Island) and Greencastle.
GARG members pictured outside Stormont after they met with Minister Mark H Durkan

GARG members pictured outside Stormont after they met with Minister Mark H Durkan

After the presentation delivered by Mr Cahill, the Group’s Chair, Mr Durkan complemented the Group by saying that the “presentation was a very thorough and professional report of findings and I can see that you are very passionate about where you live”. The Minister then provided an update to residents on the status of the planning application, advising that all consultation responses had been received except one. Once the last one is received, it is expected that the application will proceed to the decision phase.

The meeting concluded with an invitation for Minister Durkan to visit Greencastle after being shown a video of its unspoilt, tranquil landscape, the iconic Norman castle and motte. In response, the Minister said he would indeed look forward to visiting the area.

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Greenore Maritime Festival – 16th and 17th Aug 2014

The Greenore Maritime Festival will take place on the 16th & 17th of August.  All proceeds from the event will go towards the construction of an enterprise centre which in turn is hoped to nurture local entrepreneurial activity and hopefully create local employent opportunities into the future.
On the Saturday their will be craft displays, miniature railway displays, cookery demonstrations etc.  Sunday victorian enactors, music, yacht racing, boat fishing competition, rowing race (the first recorded one in Greenore since the late 1800′s) although people from Greencastle may recall the days when the McVeighs, Harpers, Sloanes, Cordons and Cunninghams used to row over the lough, while a large number of people from Greenore and Carlingford would row over to Greencastle to visit fairs, dances etc.  Stories which have been recounted many times on winter nights.

It would be great if people from the Greencastle Area could go along, participate in the event, and enjoy the festival

For more information please contact:

Brian Larkin – GGCA Ltd
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Saga Pearl II visits Carlingford Lough

The very first ocean going cruise liner berthed in Warrenpoint this morning (Sunday the 20th of July) just before 8.00am. Piloted up Carlingford Lough by Greencastle man Paul Cunningham the Saga Pearl II which departed Dover on the 7th July traveled from Iceland to Warrenpoint will depart at 5.00pm for its return to Dover.

On board is approximately 450-500 passengers who are currently spending the day enjoying the sights of the Mournes as well as a full day’s programme of entertainment in and around Warrenpoint.

The cruise liner has now left Carlingford Lough and is on its way back to Dover – the last few pictures show the pilot boat with the cruise liner.

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Jamie Dornan shoots scenes for ‘The Fall’ in Greencastle

The film crew of the BBC’s ‘The Fall’ returned to Greencastle last week to shoot more scenes for their upcoming second series. At the start of June Jamie Dornan who plays the sexy billionaire in ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ plays Paul Spector a serial killer in ‘The Fall’.

The Fall which also has Gillian Anderson as DSI Stella Gibson debuted on BBC Two in mid-2013 and was the channel’s biggest drama series launched in eight years.

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Meet the Man-at-Arms at Greencastle – Saturday 28th June 2014 (1.00pm – 5.00pm)

Commanding the mouth of Carlingford Lough this 13th – century castle was the site of great power and great deeds in the time of Robert the Bruce. The  Man-at-Arms will talk about life in the castle including the time during Edward Bruce’s attack.

Find out about the great battles that occurred at this Royal Castle. He’ll show you a selection of weaponry, armour and accoutrements, and explain their uses. Take the opportunity to handle a sword and feel the weight of armour and mail.

Free admission
Saturday 28th June 2014
1.00pm – 5.00pm

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Free Planning Advice Day…

Free Planning Advice Day...See More

Community Places is holding a FREE drop-in planning advice day in the Newry and Mourne area on 17 June 2014 (1pm-4pm) at Ballybot House, Cornmarket, Newry.

At the event advice will be given by one of their fully qualified planners on everything from how to submit a planning application for a house on a farm, home extensions, wind farm applications, planning enforcement and objecting to developments. They will also explain the changes to the planning system when planning powers transfer to local councils in April 2015. There is no need to make an appointment for the event.

Community Places
• Provides advice on Planning issues – groups and individuals
• Provides advice on developing community facilities
• Facilitates public and community consultation
• Supports Community Planning.

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Tall Ship visits Greencastle

The unique Tall Ship Pelican of London visited Greencastle on the 3rd June, with local man Michael Cunningham at the helm.  Pelican of London is a sail training ship based in Weymouth, UK. Built in 1948, she served as an Arctic trawler and coastal trading vessel until 1995.  She was virtually completely rebuilt and converted to her current form and re-launched in 2007.  She cruises under sail at 10+ knots and her unique Mainmast Barquentine (Xebec/Polacre) sail plan enables her to sail to windward much better than other similar ships.

In autumn of 2012, Pelican become the first sailing ship in a century to make a trans-Atlantic voyage from Liverpool with fare-paying passengers.  As of 2012, Pelican is operated as a sail training vessel for young people, by the charity Adventure Under Sail.  Sail Training International ranks it is a Class A tall ship.  It was for sale for about 2.5 million pounds in 2012, and was sold by 2013.

Between the 26th May and the 6th June the ship is being used as a project to unite young people from the UK and Ireland “Irish Sea Exchange 2014”.  The Irish Sea Exchange 2014 project is aimed at promoting intercultural relations and increased cross-community understanding. While on board the young people take part in workshops about life on the Irish Sea, including marine life and maritime traffic, the history of the Irish Sea and its uses and relevance today, the geography and pollution in the region, and the use of sustainable energy.

Approximately 32 young people between the age of 16 and 25 have signed up as trainee members of the crew to sail the Tall Ship from Belfast to Dublin and then onto Liverpool.  The ship departed Belfast on the 27th May, made a visit to Peel in the Isle of Man before arriving in Dublin to be part of the River Liffey Maritime Festival on the 1st and 2nd June.  On the 3rd June having departed Dublin at 16.49 on the 2nd the Pelican arrived in Greencastle at 13.53.

The overall Length of the Boat is 45m with a deck length of 34.6m, beam 7.03m and Draft: 3.95m.  The ship will depart Greencastle on the 4th and sail across the Irish Sea to Liverpool, ready for the young people to disembark on 6th June.

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Filming of the BBC’s “The Fall” at Greencastle Pier

Last June Gillian Anderson filmed scenes at the old wooden pier at Greencastle for the film ‘Our Robot Overlords’.  Last week the BBC’s filmed scenes for the second series of the BBC’s “The Fall” which also involves Gillian Anderson.  Shooting of scenes were taken at Annalone Harbour.

The Fall debuted on BBC Two in mid-2013 and was the channel’s biggest drama series launched in eight years.


Images from BBC



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Residents explain ferry fears to MLAs

GREENCASTLE residents have met with local MLAs to discuss their fears about a proposed ferry plan.

The Greencastle Area Residents Group (GARG) is vehemently against the idea of a ferry, which would run from the hamlet and across Carlingford Lough to Greenore.

GARG chairperson, Diarmuid Cahill, said: “The developers have known since the very beginning that the lack of adequate road infrastructure was by far the biggest concern for residents.

“However, the plans for road ‘upgrades’ were only made available to residents days before the official planning application was submitted, and on plans printed so small they were barely legible”.

Residents in attendance also noted that there had been no independent survey undertaken and that the Planning Office only referred to surveys carried out by the applicants themselves.

In a statement from GARG, a spokesperson said: “NI21′s John McCallister stated his agreement with residents that a massive infrastructure investment would be needed to facilitate the project both in the immediate Greencastle area and surrounding routes towards the A2, in both easterly and westerly directions.”

Residents are calling for substantial roads upgrades to ensure the safety of residents and visitors alike if the project is approved.

The statement added that Jim Wells MLA cautioned that the economic failure of this project would necessitate the government stepping in to rescue it.

“Mr Wells also recognised what he described as the ‘charm and uniqueness’ of the area.”

It was also noted that Greencastle tourists came by horse, car, bicycle and on foot, and residents say it is difficult to accept the rationale for increasing traffic to this extent for the sake of tourism.

The statement added: “Sean Rogers MLA advised those attending the meeting that the decision-making process is currently with the Divisional Roads Manager of Roads Service, however all three MLAs confirmed the final decision would be made by the Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan.”

It is the intention of the group to host meetings between residents and MLAs Caitriona Ruane and Karen McKevitt in the near future to increase awareness and build support for their anti-ferry stance.

The GARG would like to thank Grange Primary School for providing the venue for the meeting.

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