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Newry's waterways could be our city's Unique Selling Point!Continuing on with our theme of Newry 2020 - A vision for our city's future here is Part 2 of the inspirational thoughts of one of our readers. It centres around the idea that our city needs a Unique Selling Point and suggests two possibilities to create a "theme" for the future that everyone can buy in to.

1 - Capitalise on our waterways

and/or

2- Make Newry an Academic/ Spiritual/ Educational hub.

Newry City ideas   Part 2

...some further views and thoughts....

A couple of negatives, just to get them out of the way ...

Arts and Crafts:   I read with dismay recently, how Roslyn Sheridan tried to get a Community Arts Forum together and read her disappointment in the Reporter at the exceptionally low turnout for her meeting.  I have to say I could have foretold that. I have read about manys an Art group down through the years wanting to get together in Newry to try to build up the Arts Scene , but after the initial enthusiasm, an apathy sets in.  Generally speaking I really don’t think there are strong enough ‘charismatic’   ‘leaders’/ government /politicians/councillors who share this artistic vision.... is there?

Money : Lets face it there is not a lot of this ‘sloshing about’.  On the face of it if we compare Newry to Brighton? (odd comparison I know) but seriously Newry is quite poor financially.  We have no huge multi national companies or businesses sitting in our area.  And I mean HUGE companies.  There is no real proper City ‘buzz’ or ‘movement of peoples’.  We are basically   still quite a ‘small  town’ in every sense of the word.

And now on with the Positives !!!! 

Newrys past (its very past and most recent past) has been built on and ‘marketed’ as A Gateway town dealing in trade and retail sector. That’s fine.. cause that’s where it all started from, -  the Cargo and Trade through the Port(s) and Canal(s) the Warehouses, the Farmers and Gardeners selling and trading their wares  in Markets etc in this  strategically important place of Newry.  This was what WAS unique to Newry.

Newrys USP... Unique Selling Point, I feel is no longer the Retail sector…it's part of it  BUT its NOT the USP it once was  (economic recession saw to that)

Every successful business with a USP will tell you that they have something which makes them stand apart from the rest.  So was is it that Newry has?... Kinsale Co. Cork has Restaurants..they call it The Gourmet Capital of Ireland. Portush is about to build itself up as the Golfing Capital of the World???!!

So -  Whats Newry’s USP?… what have we got that is Special to us? I can see two main areas that we could possibly use to Promote to the rest of the Country and the World.... and there would be resulting ‘spin offs’ from these.

One thing that Newry is very good at and what many many parents ‘buy into’ and that’s EDUCATION.  We have in our town the four top highest achieving Grammar schools (plus all the lovely High schools here as well) in our town and that’s not just in Northern Ireland statistics,  statistics that  are seen and used on UK mainland.

The second thing that is unique to Newry are its waterways... the River, the Canal, and the Albert Baisin  and obviously further hence, Warrenpoint its harbour and Marina and the Lough itself. 

EDUCATION in its WIDEST possible contexts.... Newry could become the Educational/Spiritual/Academic hub of ...Northern Ireland. Indeed Ireland as a whole.  A place where you would become educated all year round  to learn new subjects, skills, sports, the arts, stage and screen, languages, gardening, boat building, .

Initially we could use the facilities in the schools that are empty during our Summer months.  Then we can build large ‘Warehouse’ type classrooms.  We are good at our Sports why not huge massive Soccer and GAA schools here, Mountain Biking Centres  (linked to Kilbroney). A place where foreign students come for language lessons.. where adults from different countries come to learn about... hang gliding? Brick laying skills?...ANYTHING in fact and on a much bigger scale! .  Could Daisy Hill become a teaching Hospital? A Research Centre Par excellence?   Theatre and Dance Schools. Art Centres?....the list is endless

Meanwhile down on the WATERWAYS...we have developed every conceivable use for the Water that runs through our town.. Restaurant barges (as you rightly suggest)  Homes built on the waterways..  Rowing Canoeing and Sailing Centres  (Education again!) in Albert Basin, Yachting schools. Water ski-ing. Again the list is endless as to what you could develop using our Waterways.

The thing is this... the people of Newry will ALL collectively have to ‘buy into this’.  This will have to be a united goal for the entire City so that everyone knows where they are headed and what the ‘pay off’ will be....more people coming to our City for a purpose, and therefore using our facilities and buying into OUR LIFESTYLE.  This should not be too hard. A lot of groundwork on the History of Newry will show that it TOO was once a Centre of Education excellence.. where there were Monasteries and where the Monks went out to educate the local people.  We may not be a University City, but our Academic past could be our USP for the future?

HOW TO START?  

Get every shop and Buisness in Newry to ‘buy into’ either the Waterway or Education/Relgious theme.  Pictures, Wall murals inside shops..something to do with boats, bridges across the Canal, Barges, Lock gates, Boats tied up at the Pier. Pictures of Old schools Monasteries, Classrooms, Books Libraries, The Cathedral and all the local churches.  Get shop names to change their names to a ‘Nautical theme’   ‘The Old Port Inn’,  ‘Freddies Antique Book store’. Ask shops to adopt interior décor and signage.

Would love to hear other peoples thoughts ...

That resembles ‘Ole time names and Lettering styles?  Ask Communities who are organising events to give it a Nautical, Retail or Educational  Theme. Etc. etc. etc.  Get our Schools and SRC involved, the Training Centres etc.as well

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