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Scarecrows invade two rural communities as part of spectacular community engagement strategy

A small, rural village in the Mid-Ulster District has this week been the site of an incredible invasion! Not of the alien variety, though, but of the Scarecrow and, contradictory to purpose, they seem to be drawing people in rather than scaring anybody away.

Some thirty Scarecrows have descended upon the closeknit Moneyneany, or Moneyneena as it is known locally, community near Draperstown. Mischievous Scarecrows now festoon the main street and can be seen lurking around almost every corner, adorning almost every garden, gate and wall.

So much creative energy has gone into the colourful display and, set against the backdrop of the striking Sperrin mountains, it is truly a sight to behold.

Speaking to Tyrone I Michael Kelly, Head of Regeneration and Communities with Rural Action, explained that the Scarecrows were the brain-child of the Moneyneany and District Development Group but that several other community sub-groups including An Ráth Dubh and Moneyneena in Bloom had also contributed significantly to its planning and implementation.

What had started life several years ago as a Winter Santa Trail through the Moydamlaght Forest has been repurposed to the Autumnal-themed Scarecrow trail for 2022, due to ongoing Forest trail works.

Michael explained that it was as important to Rural Action as it was to the residents of Moneyneany that a trail of some description take place and so the decision was made that, “if we can’t do Christmas, we will do Halloween”.

The small but mighty Moneyneany community came together to ensure the success of the trail. Scarecrows have been brought to life by residents, businesses and schools alike with St. Eoghan’s Primary School, in particular, creating a fantastic array of the Harvest-inspired humanoid creations. Something the school children have very much enjoyed participating in.

Michael explained that whilst the Scarecrow Trail is of course an event that generates a huge amount of enjoyment and excitement is it also born out of an important “self-help” ethos.

Michael said, “people were heading off to Donegal and other areas to enjoy the Christmas displays and trails and not only is there a significant cost associated with travelling and admission but there are also those who are unable to attend the events elsewhere” and so it became pertinent to encourage the rural community to provide these activities for themselves to help keep costs down, ensure the children within the rural areas have the same experiences as their peers in larger towns and cities and also to help bolster community spirit.

The display is due to remain in the village until November 12 with a public vote for the Best Scarecrow to take place this week with prizes awarded accordingly.

Someone should perhaps warn the Moneyneany community that these pesky Scarecrows tend to make themselves at home, as County Tyrone village Pomeroy have seen their Scarecrows return year after year since their first trail began in 2020.

In their first year 128 people came together to create 32 Scarecrows, with approximately 2000 votes for Best Scarecrow which was awarded to the very deserving Queen Elizabeth II Primary School.

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