The railway runs again at Strule and Centenary
Published: Thur, 16 Oct 2014
Local people, events and images have been combined to create a new entrance feature at Strule Park and Centenary Park.
The unique artwork was created by the residents and local artist Gerard Bradley. It was officially unveiled on Thursday 16 October by Cllr Sean Begley the Chairman of Omagh District Council.
The wall at the area’s entrance was unsightly and over the years suffered from being daubed with various forms of graffiti. Recognising the positive influence a good entrance to an estate area can have the Housing Executive agreed to invest in the community led artwork. In collaboration with Omagh District Council the Housing Executive also funded the entrance feature which the Council has undertaken to maintain.
The local community group Omawest ensured everyone in the area was given the chance to consult on the entrance feature and artwork’s creation. The residents of Strule Park and Centenary Park seized the opportunity to participate in the consultation during autumn of 2013. The consultation revealed a desire to feature local landmarks including the railway, prefabs, Bells Bridge and the Spires. In addition the community wanted to have featured the local cycling club along with images of individuals and groups as well as details of significant events.
The entrance feature and artwork both reflect the legacy of the steam railway – Strule being one of the stops to Derry. The entrance feature reflects the tracks of the railway and uses sleepers as part of it. Meanwhile the wall art has been created from recycled tiles, a first for this type of installation.
For the launch, the community group arranged for a display of photos from the area featuring local people and events since the 1950s which proved a great talking point for young and old. The group was able to show rare cine/8mm film footage of Strule & Centenary in the mid-1960s depicting prefabs, the start of the construction of the parks and day to day life of local people which are easily recognisable on film.
Mark McGrath of Omawest, which spearheaded the initiative, was pleased with the result and said:
“It was annoying to see the wall covered in graffiti all the time; not what local residents or visitors wanted to see as they turned into the estate. I am delighted with the ‘new look’. It is a real reflection on what is good about our area, the people, the landmarks and the shared history. The local communities’ input and support was terrific and our artist in residence, Gerard Bradley, has truly reflected their thoughts from the consultation.
“On behalf of the community I’d like to thank those individuals who have helped along with the Housing Executive which has funded the work and Omagh District Council for the land and promise to ensure the upkeep.”
Commenting on the opening the Housing Executive’s Head of Income Collection and Neighbourhoods, Jennifer Hawthorne, said:
“This entrance feature and artwork is an important legacy for Strule Park and Centenary Park. I was so pleased to learn of the positive reaction from the local community to this initiative and I am delighted the Housing Executive was able to support such a positive reflection on the past which bodes well for the future as they move full steam ahead.”
Speaking at the unveiling of the artwork, Council Chairman, Cllr Sean Begley commended the work, which not only improves the aesthetics of the locality but also celebrates the local community…
"The mural depicting the departing train reminds us of times gone by and what was a significant feature of this area, while the photographic tiles recall the strong musical and sporting traditions of Omagh, and the contribution which local personalities have made to the town."
Oonagh McAvinney who is the Housing Executive’s South West Area Manager, which includes the Omagh area, was delighted to speak at the event and said:
“I am pleased our partnership with the local community and Omagh District Council has resulted in such a marvellous entrance to the area. It is great to see the iconic local landmarks in the artwork alongside local people representing what is great about the area. I know it has been a terrific talking point over the summer and I hope it will continue to be so, bringing people together and will help stimulate a positive outlook.”