THE Roslea-born Mayor of Derry, the SDLP’s Martin Reilly, has spoken this week of his time at the helm of the UK’s City of Culture 2013.
Councillor Reilly, who became mayor back in May, has been thrust into the busy life of a Mayor, made even busier because of the city’s status this year.
With just two months remaining of that status however, Cllr Reilly has reflected on a busy four months – and invited Fermanagh people to sample the atmosphere in the final two months of the year.
“I’ve found it very enjoyable. There’s no doubt that being mayor is a very busy role in any year – in this particular year it has been quite a demanding post. But it’s a very enjoyable one,” Cllr Reilly, pictured, told the Fermanagh Herald.
“The very first weekend I was Mayor was the return of Colmcille festival which was a spectacular showcase of the River Foyle,” he continued.
“St Columba, as legend would have it, banished the Lough Ness monster to Lough Ness – so it was a spectacular event.”
Then, in August the Fleadh came to Derry. Cllr Reilly spoke of the expectation of an enormous crowd – indeed it was – and the mindsets that he hoped would be changed.
There were 432, 000 visitors to the city, in a city of 108,000 citizens.
“It was a great event because it actually changed people’s mindsets about Derry, and about the North. So many people would had been apprehensive about coming to the North,” he explained.
“They were happy to come and see the Fleadh but didn’t foresee staying in the city at night time. The Fleadh really allowed us to blow away those myths and cobwebs about the North.”
He continued: “The point we wanted to get across this year is that there are so many people across the Six counties and the wider island that wouldn’t have considered going to Derry for a weekend or a holiday. They think of going up to Belfast down to Dublin, or to Galway. Our city is not their choice and this year all the wonderful events that we’ve had has really helped change those mindsets.”
Cllr Reilly also offered an invitation to those in Fermanagh to enjoy the remaining events – and specifically the Lumiere event at the end of November, as well as the Turner Prize exhibition.
To read more.. Subscribe to current edition