A busy 2012 and a lot more to come in year of Gathering

Published 05/12/2012 | 10:07

Slane Local Heroes volunteers Michele Power, Robert Berrill, Pat Doyle, Jane Wardick-Devin, Shannon O'Connor and Fiona Jenkinson.

IT MAY have one of the most famous rock concerts in the world, not to mention several religious sites and the Boyne Valley and Newgrange on its doorstep, but in recent years Slane has lacked a structured tourism drive which has meant a lack of visitors to the picturesque village.

That has all changed since the Slane Local Heroes was established, and in the past 12 months, the committee in charge of putting it high on the agenda has spearheaded some hugely successful events and projects, with more to come. Joanne Macken is one of the leading lights. 'It has been a really busy year for us on the tourism committee and we are really proud of what we have achieved,' says Joanne, who runs the local Slane Farm Hostels business.

'Our first major event was the Flame of Slane festival of fires on the Hill of Slane, and we welcomed thousands to the village, as well as the first Easter Egg hunt.'

The area is rich with heritage but found it was losing out to Newgrange and tourists were not coming this direction.

' There was no tourism office here and no focal point for people to find out what to do,' said committee member Michele Power.

'Of course it has really helped that the hotel has opened again, and we have so much more to offer the visitor now, and much more planned for next year.'

The Gathering will be a major event in Slane with a number of projects hoping to link up with it. ' We are planning a reunion day for Slane Mill, which would be massive, as at one stage 700 to 800 people were employed there,' says Joanne.

'We have established the Slane Striders walking group and hope to hold our own Walking Festival next year, as the forthcoming Solstice at Slane Festival which will be held from December 20 to 22, with Christmas and Craft Fairs.'

They are hoping the Flame of Slane will become an annual event and even more will be attracted to the Ladywell Fete in 2013.

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