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Effort to bring back Tollymore Tea Rooms

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Effort to bring back Tollymore Tea Rooms thumbnailThe former Tea Rooms at Tollymore which council and Forest Service are keen to reopen with the help of an ambitious cafe owner.

IT HAS been 15 years since the Tea Rooms at Tollymore Forest Park were open to the public.

However, council is now hoping to breathe a new lease of life into what is possibly the park's most recognisable building.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council is seeking expressions of interest from the private sector to utilise the Tea Rooms and another listed building within the park.

Council is hoping that this will further enhance the park's reputation as one of the province's leading visitor attractions albeit without any refreshments provision at present.

At an Enterprise, Regeneration and Tourism Committee meeting earlier this month, councillors heard that the council, in conjunction with Forest Service, is seeking interest for service provisions in Clanbrassil Barn and Tea Rooms .

The park has a steady footfall of visitors during peak times attracted to the park's wide range of activities including walking, running, mountain biking, camping and caravanning and waterbased activities along the Shimna River.

The forest park is owned and managed by Forest Service and with the council putting tourism at the top of its agenda, both organisations are keen to see Tollymore flourish.

In recent times, the first floor of Clanbrassil Barn, located at the Bryansford Gate exit, was used as an exhibition space but has been closed for the past decade.

There are toilets and an education centre on the ground floor of this building, which was upgraded three years ago, and a lift installed.

The Tea Rooms, located between the main and overflow car parks, is also a two storey building.

The first floor used to be a cafe however it has not been in operation since 2002.

There is also a shop, storage and toilets on the lower levels, which again have not been open to the public in over a decade.

Councillors heard that the Tea Rooms are connected to the overflow car park via an elevated walkway.

The external fabric of this building underwent major repair work in 2014 which included the refurbishment of the foot bridge.

Council and Forest Service are hoping that if these buildings were to re-open, it would "complement the overall offering at Tollymore Forest Park".

Councillors were informed that the financial cost, at this stage, would be an advertisement in the press.

Agreement to work alongside Forest Service to seek expressions of interest for the use of both buildings at Tollymore Forest Park was given the green light at the April meeting, however it will need to be ratified before the full council next month.

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