Romance in the Land

Romance in the Land

Come Sample 'Peacemaking' in South Armagh this Saturday (13th)

A south Armagh peacemaker is inviting the public to come and enjoy a taster of his work on an open evening this weekend in Darkley.

Ian Bothwell of Crossfire Trust is issuing the open invitation to ‘Romancing the Land’ this Saturday at his base in Darkley House near Keady.

He has been ‘peacemaking’ in south Armagh with his wife Pauline since the 1970s and in 2002 was awarded the US President’s Peace Prize in Washington by George W Bush in recognition of their service to community relations.

People of all creeds and none are invited to walk around the former linen mill owner’s house, which dates back to 1720.

"People will have an opportunity to walk through the property and see the facility we have, who we offer it to and to meet some of the people who have used Darkley House and who benefit from the summer and winter activities,” Ian said.

The concept came from a previous event he held, called “Prayer for the Land”

Ian continued:

"We realise there may be areas and regions that people are not so comfortable with. So ‘Romancing the Land’ was an idea that we would be able to have a more romantic expression to different parts of the region and not to be so frightened of it.

“South Armagh can be an area people are reluctant to come to, it has a history and a past and yet it has beautiful scenery full of interesting people. We need to meet each other.”

The evening will double as a fundraising event on the theme of Valentines Day.

“But it is not really about couples coming together, it is about people coming together in the land, perhaps coming to a place like Darkley and seeing the good . This event is inclusive, everyone in the community is welcome.

“We want to bring people together who may not always meet each other. We love to host events which can meet this need. And while coming together people can discover what we do together and how it actually works.

“It is community relations, it is meeting people and having conversations in a relaxed environment around a common cause. The cause is Darkley House residential centre where people who need help can come and  be helped and restored.”

The charity focuses on restoring people from “the effects of fear and division” and also aims to address the fact that some people “have never had a good conversation with someone who was different to them”.

He adds:

“We have a concept in Crossfire Trust that everyone is equal, welcomed and loved.”

Barclays Bank is matching funding the event up to £1000.

“In many ways it is a taster – yes we are having food – but we are also having a taster of the work.

“It is one evening when people can come and experience what we do and how we do it and perhaps in the future people may think ‘this is what I could be involved in’.

“We would love to be able to remove the barriers and suspicions and provide people with a platform on which they could stand on and use to go forward together.”

The charity works with the homeless and people with mental health and addiction issues.

“We are particularly keen that people working in these fields come because when they may want to refer people here and it is important they come and see and understand what we do.”

This Saturday evening’s event will include tours of the property, food, music, and a closing speech by Ian.

Romancing the Land takes place on Saturday 13 February at 7.30pm at 95 Darkley Rd, Darkley, Co Armagh BT60 3AY. Tel 028 3753 1636.