Northern Ireland (NI) Water is set to commence work to restore parts of the historic Mourne Wall in County Down, part of the scheme which first brought water to Belfast from the Mourne Mountains at the beginning of the last century.

Originally constructed out of local granite from 1904-22 to enclose the catchment area for the Silent Valley Reservoir, the 22-mile Mourne Wall traverses 15 peaks, and is now followed by a challenging long distance walking route. The highest mountain along the wall's route is Slieve Donard at 850 metres.

The first phase of work will see the restoration of a 2.5km section of the wall surrounded by NI Water land between the mountains Slieve Loughshannagh (619m) and Slieve Meelmore (684m).

Local experienced stonemasons will carry out the repairs n with advice and guidance from Mourne Heritage Trust (MHT).

Dermott McCurdy NI Water’s Project Sponsor said: “During this first phase of the restoration of the wall, NI Water will be working closely with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, our contractor GEDA Construction, local stone contractors and the Mourne Heritage Trust to assess the sympathetic construction methods employed, with a view to developing a wider four-year programme of work.

“To repair certain sections of the Mourne Wall, it will be necessary to transport stone and other material to site where it is not readily available. This will be done through carefully planned helicopter drops to agreed locations within the Mournes area.

“This is a significant investment by NI Water and we look forward to working with and gaining the support of all our stakeholders, as we strive to protect the integrity of one of Northern Ireland’s most iconic listed monuments.”

Photo: Representatives of NI Water, the NI Department for Communities, Mourne Heritage Trust and local stonemasons at the launch of the Mourne Wall restoration project.