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Tommy backs Rostrevor as a fairytale place to live in

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Tommy backs Rostrevor as a fairytale place to live in thumbnailOne of the favourite places for so many in the area is the Fairy Glen leading into Kilbroney Park

ROSTREVOR has been named by The Sunday Times as one of the top places to live in Britain, writes Martin McGuigan.

Famous for it's jaw-dropping landscapes, the splendour of its scenery and the cinematic topography, the picturesque South Down village has an equally rich cultural, musical and literary heritage that has provided a muse for such literary giants as CS Lewis, James Joyce and Charles Dickens.

In compiling the list, The Sunday Times writers combined data and statistics using various metrics such as crime rates, house prices and school performance etc; whilst selecting places deemed to offer the best quality of life to the widest number of people.

The Democrat spoke to Tommy Sands, of the Sands family, and who has lived in the area for nearly 40 years, about what makes Rostrevor so special.

Tommy said the nomination "doesn't surprise me too much".

"It is a very lovely place to live in so many different ways," he said. "The people are very friendly people, very committed to the village in the sense of keeping the nature and beauty intact.

"There always has been in the village a tradition for looking after the village. As soon as you look out the door there's a beautiful picture, which changes constantly, I think if you did a 360 degree turn it'd be a completely different picture to come back to," said the folk musician.

Tommy believes that the outstanding natural beauty of the area is a focal source of inspiration for writers, musicians and artisans.

"There's a great literary tradition in Rostrevor as well; that space between the land, the sea and the sky is where a lot of creativity happens," said Tommy.

“I live here because I love the place. I came to it in 1970's, so it's coming up to 40 years now. People are laid-back and relaxed and I think that the landscape prompts them to be like that, I'd say it's a little bit like gong into an Art Gallery, there's a certain spirituality about it in the landscape."

Tommy believes that creativity is so ingrained in the village's ethos that it leads to a multitude of outlets across Rostrevor.

He said: "Even at the moment, in the village, instead of graffiti written on walls, there's poetry written on walls. Every night of the week, there's some form of music in one bar or another, and it would be music of this land."

Rostrevor has long since been acknowledged as providing CS Lewis with inspiration for the Chronicles of Narnia series, but a little known fact is that is was a favoured retreat of another literary giant.

“Charles Dickens came to visit Rostrevor regularly. He would have come to see AJ Canning, another writer and who owned the big house in Rostrevor Lodge, because they were great friends," explained Tommy.

"There's a little poem that was put together about Rostrevor, which goes as such;

'For Heaney's seat Treedom rests

'Tip-Top,' said Joyce in Ulyssess

Where Shaw saw nature smile so kind

Rostrevor stirs the poet's mind.'"

When postulated with the idea that Rostrevor is the jewel in the North, Tommy said: "I think it is, it's sheltered by Slieve Martin, which I think gives it it's special climate as well."

“It's very [the recognition] confirming and every day I wake up and look at the landscape I feel blessed and very lucky to be here."

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