European Group visit Gatehouse

European Group visit Gatehouse - Memoria Grundvig ProjectThe Mill on the Fleet was the venue for the 4th meeting of the EU funded Grundtvig Life Long Learning project, Memoria.  The purpose of the project is for members of the group to work together and learn from each others' experience, share best practice and come forward with proposals for taking forward ideas for using non material and cultural heritage to boost sustainable tourism. 

The members of the group from France, Italy, Greece and Slovakia were welcomed to Gatehouse by Provost Pat Jacques and by Colin Wyper on behalf of Dumfries and Galloway Council  The group then heard presentations from local experts on a range of subjects, which are important to the heritage of Dumfries and Galloway or could play a larger part in the tourist offering for the future.  Anna Johnson talked about the National Scenic Area, showing how people have a passion for these areas and ho they can become ambassadors for them.  Nic Coombey talked about  Dry Stone Walls and showed how the earliest walls had been the subject of local unrest but were now an essential part of the local heritage.  David Steel described how the success of the local  Faed family of artists had encouraged others to take up an artistic career which had eventually led to the creation of the artists' community in Kirkcudbright, which continues to be a Mecca for contemporary artists.  James Brown talked about Pilgrim routes  and how there was potential for new pilgrim routes through Galloway.  He pointed out that in 1985 just 700 pilgrims had travelled to Santiago de Compostella in Spain and by last year that number had swelled to over 200,000. Ed Forrest of the Galloway and South Ayrshire biosphere also pointed out the importance of sense of place in giving meaning to the new biosphere.


The group went on to consider other examples of good practice from each of the groups taking part in the meeting.  Whether it is Cream o' Galloway, the National Scenic Area, dry stone walling, the promotion of Trusty's Hill or the development of the  Mill on the Fleet here in Gatehouse, there are things we can show off as good local examples and we can learn from the other groups.  Lunch at the Mill on the Fleet was an opportunity for the group to chat informally with the local speakers and to taste local delicacies.

An important part of these meetings is that the members of the group should have the chance to absorb some of the local culture of the host group.  In the evening the visitors were entertained to an evening of Scottish music and song with memorable performances  by David Hannay on the pipes, Iona Bonaventura on the fiddle, local duo Stirrin' the Stour and Scottish songs from Tonic Solway. The group enjoyed a meal of local foods prepared by the Gatehouse group, using products from local producers such as Cream o' Galloway, Galloway Smokehouse, Wigwam bread and Loch Arthur as well as garden vegetables and fruits from the hedgerows.

The following day, local kilt maker, Carol Churchman at the  Kiosk, showed the visitors the skills required to make a bespoke kilt;  they visited the Covenanter's tomb at Anwoth to see the potential for developing a trail based on sites connected with the Covenanters and  Cairnholy to see this sacred place which plays an important part in the tourist offering.  They watched the salmon smoking process at Galloway Smokehouse under the direction of Alan Watson and had the privilege to be shown the fantastic restoration work which has been carried out by John and Janet Brennan at  Barholm Castle.  In the afternoon the group were welcome to  the High Street Gallery, Kirkcudbright by Maureen Briggs, to see contemporary art by Hazell Campbell and to Broughton House, the home of E A Hornel, where they had the good fortune to be shown round by Mike Duguid, Past President of Robert Burns World Federation.

Commenting on the visit, GDI chairman David Steel said "I am very grateful to all those who welcomed the visitors from France, Greece, Italy and Slovakia and made their visit memorable.  I am sure they will have learnt a lot from this visit, just as the GDI will learn from further exchanges.  The GDI would welcome further ideas for using our cultural and non material heritage to further encourage sustainable tourism".

Barholm Castle - Memoria Grundvig Visit Galloway Smolehouse - Memoria Grundvig visit