History and Purpose
Carntogher or Slaughtneil is a small rural community located in South Derry, Ireland. For many years the area has suffered depopulation, the erosion of its Gaelic linguistic and cultural heritage, damage to traditional ecological habitats and most recently a down turn in the fortunes of the agricultural sector.
Carntogher Community Association was established in 1992 in order to help redress a range of issues - to strenghen the Carntogher Community, to help reinforce its long term economic, environmental and cultural sustainability and enhance the fabric and character of the community in the general Carntogher Area.
Primary Mission Statement
To promote the benefit of the people living within rural communities in the greater Carntogher/Maghera and surrounding areas (hereinafter the 'area of benefit') without distinction of sex, sexual orientation, age, race, ethnicity , or political, religious or other opinion by associating with voluntary and community organisations, statutory authorities and local people in a common effort to:
• Advance community based education, health & wellbeing and programmes and initiatives which improve the quality of life of people within the area of benefit
• Advance community development, citizenship and social responsibility through the operation of the An Carn Centre, the activities offered and through providing volunteering opportunities for local people within the area of benefit
• Reinstate the national language, Irish, as a living language within the area of benefit.
• Advance the arts, culture, and the protection and enhancement/revival of our heritage assets within the area of benefit (including built, archaeological, environmental, oral tradition, language and environmental heritage).
• Advance environmental protection or improvement through the management and development of Drumnaph Nature Reserve.
• Provide relief of those in need within the area of benefit, by reason of youth, age, ill-health, disability, financial hardship or other disadvantage;
• Promote tolerance and understanding of ours and other cultural traditions and the principles of equality and human rights within the area of benefit.
The Association was originally established as an unincorporated association. However, as the range of activities being promoted by the association expanded the group became incorporated as a company limited by guarantee with charitable status. This occurred in February 1997. There are twelve board members on the Community Association with many more involved in a voluntary capacity in the activities and projects being promoted by the association. The projects promoted by the association are organised through sub-committees where the directors and other interested parties are actively involved in the management of the projects. Monthly board of directors meetings allow all Directors of the Association to be kept up-to-date with the progress of all projects and allow important decisions of sub-committees to be ratified.
Approximately 110 volunteers are involved with the range of activities promoted by the group. The number of volunteers involved with the association continues to grow on an annual basis. The group caters for a wide area encompassing a primarily rural area to the north west of Maghera. However, many of the activities of the association attract participants from local towns and villages throughout the mid-Ulster area. Since its inception the Association has been involved in a wide range of environmental, economic, social and cultural projects. The group has also been the catalyst for the formation of five other local community-based groups which rely on our facilities and administrative infrastructure.
Projects which we have promoted include the following:
- The promotion of a mixed tenure housing scheme of 8 units.
- The development of a community enterprise centre and business starter units at a cost of over £600,000.
- A youth project, leading and the establishing of a registered youth club
- The development of a computer-training suite and the provision of a range of courses from basic computer training to advance specialist courses (e.g., desk–top publishing and Web design) to the general public. This project included free of charge courses to disadvantaged groups including the retraining for mothers wishing to re-enter the workforce.
- The construction of way-marked hill-walking trails
- Preservation of a local ancient woodland and the negotiation of its purchase with local landowners.
- A biodiversity/ environmental project educating the public, local schools and landowners in environmental preservation and enhancement.
- Preservation of the Gaelic Language by the setting up of the first Gaelic-language Naíscoil (Irish-language pre-school playgroup) in a rural area of N. Ireland - eventually giving rise to a Bunscoil (Gaelic-language primary school), which was again the first of its kind in a rural area of N. Ireland.
- Gaelic-language classes for adults and children and an annual Gaelic-language summer scheme.
- A multi-media training project including film making and animation– eventually giving rise to the setting up of a local film production company.
- Establishing of a rural-womens group.
- An annual summer community festival (Feile Charn Tóchair), which has been running for almost ten years
- A ‘Web Community Initiative’ where the Association will act as the provider of user friendly website space for other community groups across County Derry.
We believe that we have a particularly innovative approach to rural development which adopts a broad-based regeneration strategy within a geographically specific area that could form the blue print for regeneration in other rural areas.a