Concern at Presidential venue tourist numbers

US President Woodrow Wilson.
US President Woodrow Wilson.

The ancestral home of US President Woodrow Wilson in the new Derry-Strabane Council had less than 200 visitors over the entirety of the past year.

Calls for greater resources to help promote the key visitor attraction were made at the Council’s March Business & Culture Committee meeting.

The Wilson Homestead outside Strabane was home to the grandfather of popular US WW1 President Woodrow Wilson.

The Wilson Homestead outside Strabane was home to the grandfather of popular US WW1 President Woodrow Wilson.

There were only 182 visitors registered at the Woodrow Wilson Homestead over the past year.

Woodrow Wilson was born in 1856 and became the 28th US President, serving in office over the course of WW1 and through to 1921. He died three years after his term in office finished.

A world peace advocate, he is remembered in the US and across the world as one of the nation’s greatest presidents.

The Wilson House, near Strabane, was the home of President Wilson’s grandfather James Wilson, and lies the townland of Dergalt, two miles out of Strabane on the Plumbridge Road.

SDLP Councillor said the visitor numbers were “very alarming”, adding; “Is there more that can be done? 182 is very poor. If this was situated elsewhere I think it would be thousands.”

Council’s Strategic Director Stephen Gillespie said that later this year a comprehensive Tourism Action Plan would be unveiled , adding: “Given the significance of what it is of course we can do more and we will be doing more,” he said.

He added, following remarks by UUP Councillor Derek Hussey, that the Council wanted to develop and further promote its tourism assets, a portfolio which also includes Gray’s Printing Press in Strabane.

The 18th Century printer’s workshop apprentice is where James Wilson reputedly learnt his trade, as did local man John Dunlap, who went on to print the American Declaration of Independence in the USA.