Rocking Donaghadee praised for great community spirit


Donaghadee’s picturesque pier has been ‘rocking’ with messages of hope during the current pandemic crisis.

Young and old alike have joined together to paint colourful messages of hope, encouragement and thanks on stones of all sizes, and left them to gather on the town’s historic pier.

As lock down stretched into weeks and months, so has the number of painted rocks grown, boasting messages such as ‘life is good’, ‘thank-you NHS and key workers’ as well as ‘we’ll meet again’, ‘hope’ and ‘bout ye’.

As the picture postcard pier with its eye-catching lighthouse looks set to celebrate its 200th birthday next year, local councillor, Mark Brooks, is now appealing for ideas for a lasting home for the rocks.

Suggestions such as incorporating the rocks into a mosaic once the pandemic is over or including some of the stones in a time-capsule planned to celebrate the pier’s historic milestone, are just some of the plans being considered.

Pebble painting or ‘rocking’ is a global sensation that is believed to have been started across the Atlantic in the United States, and has gone on to unite the planet with inspirational messages of kindness and hope.

Mr Brooks said he has been ‘amazed’ by the creativity behind the colourful stones. “As you walked along the harbour, you could see that children had painted the colourful stones,” he said. 

“I am amazed by how quickly the number of stones has grown. There are now hundreds of them, all different styles, some with pictures of the lighthouse, other with messages of hope.”

Mr Brooks said: “I would like to congratulate everyone on their creativity. It is not something I have seen anywhere else. It is quite unique to Donaghadee. The stones are becoming a bit of an attraction and people are bringing their children down to look at the stones, to see if there are any new ones.”

He praised the town’s community spirit throughout the current pandemic crisis. “In Donaghadee there is great community spirit, you only have to look at the clapping for essential workers every Thursday night.

“I would also call on the local community to support local traders who have remained open during the crisis, from the chemists to the fruit and vegetable shop, who have all supported us throughout the crisis.

“I think we are entering uncertain economic times but we can only go from strength to strength with our strong community spirit.”

Looking forward to the town pier’s bi-centenary celebrations, Mr Brooks said: “Donaghadee harbour is 200 years old next year and part of the proposed plans to mark the occasion is to open a time capsule that was buried when the harbour was being built.

“It is hoped we will involve the local schools and community in placing a time capsule to commemorate the 200 years of the harbour.

“It would also be an idea to bury some of the painted stones in the capsule to show future generations one of the ways Donaghadee paid tribute to our care workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

I have written to the council making them aware of the stones and asking for help when required. As someone commented, ‘Donaghadee rocks’.”