New council website goes live online

All systems go - as Magherafelt council launch their new look website.
All systems go - as Magherafelt council launch their new look website.

MAGHERAFELT District Council has launched a new state-of-the-art website

The interactive website described by council Chairman Cllr Paul McLean as a ‘gigantic step forward’ also incorporates a new genealogy online resource and an online grants search system.

The bespoke website was developed by Barefoot Design over the course of the past nine months to meet the needs of each council department. The design of the modulised website is a simple, clean concept in keeping with today’s industry standards whilst making it easy for users to navigate.

The new website also includes a genealogy online search resource. Speaking at the launch, Michael Browne explained the need for such a site which will provide accurate historical textual and photographic information.

Michael said “Since the council opened its Tourist Information Office 15 years ago, it receives almost daily enquiries relating to genealogy from people all over the world. The idea is to have uploaded photos and maps of local gravestones and graveyards to give people a starting point in their quests.”

The District has over 60 graveyards which include a wealth of information which is of huge interest to people tracing their ancestry. Until now there has been no single resource that holds all this information.

Funding of approximately £26,250 was secured from SWARD (South West Action for Rural Development) for the project through the Rural Development Programme to employ a research company to compile an accurate and visual database of all the graves in the district.

The project is part funded by SWARD (South West Action for Rural Development), local delivery agent for Axis 3 of the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2007 – 2013 by the European Union and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Leona from Discover Ever After who was awarded the contract to develop the site said “We have now compiled information from over 60 graveyards on the site. We visited each graveyard, took photos, documented inscriptions and developed maps. Each graveyard has its own page on the site including its history and a link to ‘persons of interest’ buried there. We realised the importance of people to see headstones for themselves. Also environmentally, the site has a positive environmental impact stopping so many people stepping over resting places.

Each headstone has GPS coordinates and we are hoping to soon develop a phone app. People can put the net out wide in their search if their information is vague or they can narrow their search accordingly. We also have added information from historic documents from local parishes which give information into life in the local community and in some cases we’ve even been able to add old film footage and photos. Future plots have also been included so churches then just need to upload the new information and photos.”

The online functionality is simple to use and will give the end user a great deal of historic information. There is also a facility for the visitor to place flowers on the grave via an online payment system.

Another part of the new website is a new online grants search service for all the groups in the district. GRANTnet is a straightforward, free-to-use service, designed to help groups and small businesses to find suitable funding. The website is presented in the format of a step-by-step questionnaire, providing information from the database of more than 4,000 grants, loans and other initiatives.

This service is directed at all sectors of the District including community and voluntary groups, clubs, schools, social enterprises and small businesses who will all be able to search across EC and UK funding sources.

All services are free to users in the district and beyond via Magherafelt District Council’s new website

For further information contact Michael Browne on 028 7939 7979.