Northern Ireland

Mourne Mountains engagement sign to be removed

Mourne Mountains sign Image copyright John Manley

They say love can move mountains but one engaged couple's declaration of true devotion will instead be moved from one.

A sign celebrating an engagement that appeared on the slopes of the Mourne Mountains, County Down, will be removed.

It reads: "Jay + Lisa, she said yes here on 4.3.17."

The Mourne Heritage Trust has said it was agreed to remove the sign following discussions with the landowner.

The Irish News reported that the heart-shaped metal sign appeared on an area known as the Brandy Pad on Slieve Commedagh.

Martin Carey, chief executive of the Mourne Heritage Trust, said the group would make an appeal on social media to return the sign to its owners.

He said the sign was reported by walkers in the area and that it was believed to have been "visible from quite a wide area".

'Mournes guardianship'

"It really got quite a wide consensus from people who consider the Mournes a place apart.

"A sign or such can urbanise the area or jar with the experience for those who go to the Mournes to get away from it all."

Image caption The Mourne Mountains is a popular spot for walkers (picture taken from Slieve Commedagh)

He added that the decision to remove it was a "pragmatic response in agreement with the landowner" and that any installation of that kind required planning permission.

"People feel a soft ownership over the Mournes, a guardianship.

"I don't think there's an ill will or malice, there's just concern there would be a proliferation of signs if this came to be accepted."

'Wilderness aspect'

George Acheson, a regular visitor and walker of the Mournes, said he agreed with the trust's actions.

"Once other people see a sign like that it could encourage them to add to it. It's not in keeping with the mountainside. I think the principle of leave no trace is the right one.

"People like myself like to go to the Mournes for the wilderness aspect and signs such as these can detract from that."

Mr Carey described the leaving of signs on the Mournes as a "growing issue", although he added that mostly these were memorials left paying tribute to people who had died.

"This actually became an issue with Ben Nevis in 2005 and the solution was to put a memorial garden near the bottom of the slopes."

He added: "We ask people to be mindful of the type of place it is and not to leave a permanent mark on the landscape."