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Sculpture Ready for Play in Gortin Glen Forest Park


An impressive play sculpture is now officially open to the public in Gortin Glen Forest Park marking the first phase of the eagerly awaited redevelopment of the Forest Park.  Inspired by its natural surroundings, it is hoped that the new wooden sculpture will encourage the younger generation in particular to engage with the forest environment through exploration and play.

Standing four metres tall, the carved sculpture is composed entirely of Larch, Red Cedar and Oak with the centrepiece, a family of Red Deer, chosen specifically to reflect the importance of the Forest Park’s relationship with its much loved inhabitants.

With the centrepiece surrounded by a wheelchair-friendly boardwalk, bridge and auditorium, each element of this play sculpture is designed to allow for exploration at differing heights, mirroring the steep topography of the Forest Park’s own natural landscape. 

Developed through a partnership between Outdoor Recreation NI and Omagh District Council and with funding received from the NGO Challenge Fund (Forest Service Northern Ireland stream) administered by NI Environment Link, the sculpture is aimed at encouraging visitors of all ages to interact with the Forest Park’s environment.

Fiona Barbour, Development Officer with Outdoor Recreation NI explains, “Unlike most other sculptures, this piece is fully accessible, allowing visitors to get up close and explore this sculpture. Each element, from the animal footprints carved into the boardwalk, to the trout handrail and the iconic Red Deer focal point not only provide play value but also make for great educational talking points.”

Speaking as the new sculpture was unveiled, Chief Executive of Omagh District Council, Danny McSorley, explained “This new play sculpture here in Gortin Glen represents the beginning of our long-term recreation vision for the Forest Park.”

Mr McSorley continued, “With design underway for an extensive network of walking and mountain biking trails as well as the redevelopment of the main visitor area, we are committed to breathing life back into Gortin Glen Forest Park and reviving one of our most renowned natural resources.”

Chief Executive of Forest Service Northern Ireland, Malcolm Beatty, also explained “This new play sculpture is a fantastic addition to Gortin Glen Forest Park and is yet another great example of how effective partnerships and a shared vision between Forest Service Northern Ireland, local councils and Outdoor Recreation NI can bring to fruition a range of exciting recreation facilities across Northern Ireland.”

The new play sculpture is located across the stream from the main car park in Gortin Glen Forest Park. More information can be found on www.outdoorni.com/local-outdoors.

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