The Honourable
The Irish Society

Committed to serving the community

VISIT TO NI : 11–14 JUNE 2023

The Governor, Alderman Sir William Russell led a formal deputation of Trustees to the Province, enjoying:

  • A boat trip up the River Bann (on board the ‘Vivienne’, skippered by James Nixon of Bann River Cruises), taking in the natural beauty of the river environment and the relative absence of recreational activity before seeing for themselves the ongoing engineering works at Carnroe.
  • Visits to Ballougry Primary School (which, partly due to the strong local and political lobbying, has been given another year’s reprieve by the Education Authority) and Culmore PS for prize-giving / special assemblies at both.
  • A guided tour (by David Douglas of Derry Danders Walking Tours) of Derry Walls and key city buildings for those who had not visited the City before.
  • A meeting with Neil Doherty (Chairman of Culmore Community Partnership) and Una Cooper (Manager) at Victoria Hall – which has become the Culmore Community Hub following extensive refurbishment over 2018-21, and learning more about their hopes/plans for a scheme which would inject £400k of investment into nearby Culmore Fort – including a new building extension designed to incorporate Lough Foyle Yacht Club’s needs as well.  Trustees also visited the site.
  • An introduction to the newly appointed Mayor of Derry City & Strabane District Council – Cllr Patricia Logue (Sinn Fein, The Moor), learning more about her aims to build external support networks during her year in office.  Also a tour of Guildhall’s magnificent building.
  • Hosting a dinner at Cutts House (prepared cooked by well-known Northern Irish chef, Paula McIntyre MBE) for guests including Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP (DUP Leader); Darragh McCarthy (Founder & CEO, FinTru, a Regulatory Solutions tech company); Alan Platt (Deputy Governor, HMP Magilligan) and Jayne Taggart (CEO, Enterprise Causeway).
  • Visits to D H Christie Memorial Primary School (where the Governor also formally opened the new school gates, since the originals erected in 1967 by the Society had rusted away), the Irish Society PS and Millburn PS (who had also invited the Chinese Consul General and her team of advisers, given that the Millburn has been the only NI primary school in the Confucius Institute for some years) to present prizes and certificates for pupils completing their primary education and moving on to secondary schools.
  • A Local Advisory Committee meeting at which grants totalling £21,639 (including £9,449 on behalf of The Drapers’ Company) were approved and five applications to The Clothworkers’ NI Fund (grants totalling almost £6,500) were endorsed.
  • A visit to HMP Magilligan, meeting Alan Platt (Deputy Governor of the prison) who led a tour of facilities and rehabilitation workshops which showed the more positive and constructive side of prison life. And closing the visit by
  • Hosting an evening reception on the front lawn at Cutts House with over 100 guests drawn from a wide variety of the groups and sectors we interact with.

The Governor also took time out to meet Gerry McAleese (Club Captain) at Royal Portrush Golf Club, while other Trustees took the opportunity to visit the Titanic Centre; take a trip out to Mussenden Temple and drive over Binevinagh Mountain to view Lough Foyle to the West.  Loretto Blackwood (Mountsandel Discovery & Heritage Group) and some colleagues also gave a guided tour of the Mountsandel Fort and Mesolithic excavation site.