Fort George sought for emigration expo

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Derry may not boast a ‘Titanic Quarter’ but, according to a leading local businessman, the city can learn from what has been a phenomenal success in Belfast.

Garvan O’Doherty has confirmed to the ‘Journal’ that,on behalf of a Group of investors, he has tabled an ‘Expression of Interest’ in the Fort George site where it is proposed to invest £80 million in the construction of “an iconic floodlit building” depicting the mass emigration from the north west area in years gone by. In addition it is also proposed to develop a number of other properties on the site.

The images originated in the Derry Standard and one shows a Two years  Joan Markey, pictured with her doll and purse, who travelled on her own to New York in 1938 to join her parents. (Photo: Derry Standard Newspaper).

The images originated in the Derry Standard and one shows a Two years Joan Markey, pictured with her doll and purse, who travelled on her own to New York in 1938 to join her parents. (Photo: Derry Standard Newspaper).

The Garvan O’Doherty Group has attracted international developers in the proposal and have submitted plans to construct an ‘Emigration and Maritime Museum’ which will tell the story of the estimated nine million people around the world who have links to ancestors who left Derry Quay before boarding transatlantic liners sailing from Moville in Co. Donegal, to the’ new world.’

Derry was, at one time, one of just three ports of departurefrom Ireland, the others being Belfast and Cobh in Co. Cork.

The O’Doherty Group has already met with those involved in delivering the significant Titanic Quarter development.

Commenting on his proposal, Mr. O’Doherty said that, if successful, his project would prove pivotal in not only selling Derry but the entire north west area (including Donegal) and indeed, the North of Ireland, as a major tourist destination.

“The iconic building situated on the riverfront would welcome those travelling to the north west by river, rail, air or road. The building would assist in explaining our history as millions departed our city in search of better lives in America, Canada and, indeed, even further away to Australia over a 250 years period,” he noted.

“We believe the Fort George site is perfectly placed to achieve our ambition and the group of investors involved would be very keen to open discussions with Derry City & Strabane District Council in relation to incorporating its proposed Maritime Museum with our ideas as both projects would go hand in hand,” he maintained.

Derry is the only city in Ireland which, with authenticity, can actually tell the complete story of Irish emigration. The local port remained a major Irish emigration point throughout all the significant phases of emigration from Ireland such as the 18th century outflow of Ulster Scots to colonial America; pre Famine, Famine and post Famine emigration to North America not to mention cross-channel migration to Britain via Glasgow and Liverpool.

“Given the city’s history, Derry needs a significant feature on the River Foyle and it’s our hope that those who delivered Titanic to Belfast can assist us in delivering a major emigration theme to Derry,” concluded Mr. O’Doherty