Local children's time capsule marks restoration of historic Mourne Wall
Schoolchildren buried a time capsule high in the Mourne Mountains yesterday to mark the completion of the first phase of a major project to repair the 100-year-old Mourne Wall.
Hand-built by the Belfast Water Commissioners between 1904 and 1922, the wall marks and protects the 9,000-acre water catchment which feeds the Silent Valley and Ben Crom reservoirs near Kilkeel.
Since 1996 the wall has been a listed building and is today owned by NI Water.
The Mourne Wall Restoration Project saw over 600 repairs undertaken along the 22-mile-long granite structure - including a 27m collapse on Slieve Bernagh - as well as extensive path works.
The restoration work in this first stage was expected to take at least four years, but has actually been completed in fewer than two.
Paul Harper, who is NI Water's director of asset delivery, paid tribute to everyone involved in making the project a success.
"I am thrilled that this initial phase of work has been successfully completed.
"I would like to thank Mourne Heritage Trust, the NI Environment Agency, National Trust and Trustees of Mourne for their guidance and assistance throughout the project and pay tribute to the strenuous efforts exerted by the contractors and wider project team in reaching this milestone so quickly."
Working in all weathers, the project team hiked up to 6km a day to carry out the repairs.
Missing capping stones - weighing up to 120kg each - were sourced from local quarries and donated by the National Trust.
The massive stones were then transported to site by helicopter and rolled into place using age-old methods.
Cllr Mark Murnin, chairman of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, welcomed the restoration of the much-loved historic asset.
He said: "The Mournes are popular with tourists, hill-walkers, expedition groups, day-trippers and many more.
"The iconic granite wall not only provides shelter to walkers, but it is also a recognised navigation route - often referred to as 'the handrail'. The council is delighted that this much-loved historic asset has been carefully restored and paths along Slieve Donard reinstated to provide environmental protection and facilitate walking tourism in this beautiful scenic area."