St Brigid’s welcomes walkers

Pictured at Mountjoy Castle
Pictured at Mountjoy Castle

St Brigid’s Primary School in Brocagh was recently the centre of a two-week trek round Northern Ireland seeking out examples of great community spirit – the Big Lunch community walk.

Volunteers Rory Mullan and Patricia Fleming were handpicked to be The Big Lunch community walkers in 2019 and spend a fortnight walking in towns and villages around NI, meeting with inspirational people who are improving their communities – and they just stopped in Brocagh on day eight.

Walkers Patricia Fleming and Rory Mullan, along with principal Brian Kelly, addressing the school

Walkers Patricia Fleming and Rory Mullan, along with principal Brian Kelly, addressing the school

They stepped into Brocagh in the morning to a great reception from staff and pupils at St Brigid’s, and a group walk around the local area.

Rory and Patricia then joined some of the older pupils in a walk up to Mountjoy Castle, where local historian John Ryan described told the story of the fort, which overlooks Lough Neagh, and was built in 1602.

Rory said: “The community spirit and energy in the school is obvious as soon as you arrive – the staff and pupils are full of enthusiasm, this is a great place and we are amazed by the reception the whole Big Lunch team received.”

The Big Lunch is an Eden Project, supported by the National Lottery, that began in 2009. It encourages people to spend some time with other people in their local community to try and bring people closer together by sharing food, fun and conversation. A Big Lunch can be anything from a cuppa to a huge spread for the whole neighbourhood.

“We were absolutely delighted to have been chosen as a location for the Big Lunch Community Walkers”

Speaking on behalf of the Friends of St Brigid’s PS, Tracy O’Neill said: “We were absolutely delighted to have been chosen as a location for the Big Lunch Community Walkers. As a small rural community, it is a great honour for us to host the walkers and to join them in their journey as they shine a light on the many, many communities across Northern Ireland that engage in community activities. As a relatively new group the Big Lunch was a way for us to connect with the community and for the community to get to know us and we were overwhelmed by the numbers attending on the day. It’s a simple idea really, it’s about getting people together to share food and have a chat.”

Brian Kelly, Principal of St. Brigid’s Primary School added: “As a school we are so pleased to host the Big Lunch Community Walkers. Taking place within the National Walking Month of May it seemed more than fitting that we invite the whole school to join the walkers for part of their journey. It also happened to coincide with our school sports day so what better way to start school sports than by a walk race. Being part of this initiative and working closely with our Friends Group helps us promote the continued benefits of strong school and community links and in promoting good health and wellbeing for all.”

The Friends of St. Brigid’s Primary School Big Lunch event 2018 was supported by Mid Ulster District Council.

Attending the recent visit of the Big Lunch Community Walkers, the Chair of Mid Ulster District Council Councillor Martin Kearney said: “Communities are very much at the heart of Mid Ulster District Council. Every year we are inspired by the wealth of community action taking place across the District. We were delighted to support the Friends Group in their first Big Lunch event last year. For such a small community they punch above their weight. It is great to see communities supporting community. The volunteer effort that goes into all these activities is to be commended. We wish the Big Lunch Community Walkers all the best as they continue their journey and for making Mid Ulster a destination in this year’s programme.”

Pictured at the luch are Anne Marie Cox from Sustrans, walkers Patricia Fleming and Rory Mullan, and Council Chair Martin Kearney

Pictured at the luch are Anne Marie Cox from Sustrans, walkers Patricia Fleming and Rory Mullan, and Council Chair Martin Kearney

The walkers’ journey will take them to towns all across NI, places like Ballymoney, Newry, Portaferry and Derry, and in each city, town and village they will meet with individuals and organisations committed to making their local community a better place.

An idea from the Eden Project, made possible by the National Lottery, The Big Lunch is about millions of people getting together to share food and get to know each other better. Every year, over 6 million people take to their streets, gardens and neighbourhoods to join in for a few hours of community, friendship and fun. This year’s Big Lunch weekend is this Saturday, June 1 and 2.

Get your free pack at thebiglunch.com