Antrim Castle Gardens named top park in Northern Ireland

Representatives from each of the shortlisted parks receiving Awards from former international footballer and trustee of Fields in Trust Graeme Le Saux and TV sports presenter Jill Douglas.
Representatives from each of the shortlisted parks receiving Awards from former international footballer and trustee of Fields in Trust Graeme Le Saux and TV sports presenter Jill Douglas.

Antrim Castle Gardens has been named the best park in Northern Ireland and was also been shortlisted in the UK’s Best Park after a search to find the country’s favourite local green space.

The win was announced at the Fields in Trust Charity’s awards ceremony at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London.

Antrim Castle Gardens received the highest public vote in the Northern Ireland section of the award alongside shortlisted parks in England, Wales Ireland and Scotland.

Rouken Glen Park in East Renfrewshire won the UK vote overall to take the 2016 title.

Nominator of the park, Stephen Nicholl said: “This was the place my Grandparents brought me to play as a child, they lived just across the road. Even then it was a special place, the ruins of the castle were ghostly, the ancient motte a challenge to climb, the site of the annual agricultural show where my grandfather was renowned for his bantams and a place where hockey was the king of sports.

“The history of Antrim and its people is as much the history of this place, its battles and personalities. It’s not just that it sits at the heart of Antrim, it is the heart of Antrim.

“And when the gardens grew tired Council, Heritage Lottery and many others stepped in to revitalise them, to breathe new life into them and bring a new generation to enjoy and value its place in our community.”

Helen Griffiths, Fields in Trust Chief Executive, said: “Many congratulations to Antrim Castle Gardens. It’s a beautiful green space and well deserving of the accolade.

“The number of parks nominated this year and the votes cast across the competition show just how much the public cherish their local green spaces.”