NAVIGATION

Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark creates ‘Heritage Champions’ of the Geopark

The Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark (MACUGG) has added to their existing Geopark Ambassador cohort by training 20 local community heritage enthusiasts to become Geopark ‘Heritage Champions’ in West Fermanagh.

The MACUGG covers large swaths of public lands with over 70 sites across West of counties Fermanagh and Cavan has an abundance of unique, exceptional, and rich natural, built, and cultural heritage throughout. It is extremely important to not only conserve this area for generations to come but also educate those living, working, and visiting the area. It is hoped that when people visit sites within the MACUGG that they enjoy the wonderful, rich heritage and connect with the landscape.

One way the MACUGG encourages this is through our Geopark Guides programme. In 2020, the MACUGG secured funding via the Lough Erne Landscape Partnership National Lottery Heritage Fund to roll out a Co-ordinated Education Training Programme to enable the creation of a network of 20 Heritage Champions.

The programme was delivered virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic and consisted of 10 online sessions that was co-ordinated by Travel and Tourism Associates. Topics were delivered by local subject experts in areas such as UNESCO Global Geoparks, geology, geomorphology, archaeology, biodiversity, event management and tour guiding.

Speaking about the programme, the Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Armstrong said, “The Heritage Champions will act as an important conduit for meaningful community engagement within the Geopark. It provides an opportunity for new community based sustainable tourism products and initiatives to develop and most significantly ensures that local people have the skills, knowledge and expertise to ensure that the unique and special landscapes of the Geopark are understood, interpreted and celebrated by all for many generations to come”.

Elmarie Swanepoel, Lough Erne Landscape Programme Manager added “The Lough Erne Landscape Partnership are delighted to work in partnership with the Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark to support the training of 20 new heritage guides. These passionate individuals will be great ambassadors for our region to share the unique stories of our area to bring the natural, built and cultural heritage to life. We celebrate the achievement of each of these participants who took part in the programme and look forward to the future to offer a further programme of accredited Tour Guide training within the wider Lough Erne region”.

Martina O’Neill, Development Officer – Partnerships & Engagement added, “We were delighted with the participation and positive feedback from the Heritage Champions programme and look forward to working with our Heritage Champions in Fermanagh and continuing to work with our Geopark Ambassadors in Cavan to ensure the unique stories of the Geoparks special landscapes are told allowing us to connect with and enjoy the wonderful rich heritage of the Geopark in a sustainable way”.

The Heritage Champions will now join the Geopark Ambassadors who were established in 2011 and are a critical link to their respective communities in West Cavan and whom with their on-going support and assistance over the years, have enabled the MACUGG to operate a truly diverse and exciting programme of activities and experiences allowing locals and visitors alike to explore, enjoy and learn more about the Geopark and its unique heritage.

Due to the success of this programme the MACUGG are now working again in partnership with the Lough Erne Landscape Partnership to offer an OCN Level 2 qualification in Tour Guiding in the Spring and Autumn of 2021 to those that are interested in participating. More information on this will be released soon however, if you would like to be contacted with the details, please email macgeopark@fermanaghomagh.com.

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