The Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre celebrated its first birthday last week with an event which also marked the official opening of the famous visitor centre and one man was the special guest.
John McKay, aged 97, worked as a ‘flag’ boy on the tram that used to bring visitors to Giant’s Causeway.
And John, along with the youngest visitor to the centre on the day, officially opened the centre in a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Lisnagunogue man John was accompanied to the event by his daughter Margaret Smith and grandsons Karl Smith and James Craig.
A giant birthday cake was commissioned to mark the celebration, with a local baker from Armoy, Cherry Blossom Cake Company, winning a competition to provide the unique cake.
It was a day for extra celebration as the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) announced that the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre has been rated as a five-star experience for tourists.
The five-star accreditation was awarded under a new NITB scheme designed to provide visitors with quality grading information on Northern Ireland’s tourist attractions.
Speaking at the landmark event, Heather Thompson, Northern Ireland director for the National Trust said: “We are very proud of this amazing visitor experience which has welcomed hundreds of thousands of visitors from across the world.
“We are also very proud of the economic benefit this site brings to the surrounding community and Northern Ireland as a whole with the Giant’s Causeway employing 181 people through a range of services.
“This visitor centre acts as a gateway to our only World Heritage Site.
“It provides a world class experience that is worthy of that unique status.
It explains how the Giant’s Causeway was formed and highlights the essential conservation work carried out by the National Trust on the north coast and beyond.
“Visitors gain a deeper insight into the myths and legends of bygone days and discover the stories of the people who live in and around the Causeway today.
There is also the chance to connect with and learn more about the local people for whom the Causeway Coast provides an important livelihood.
This connection with local communities is key to the centre’s success.”
The Visitor Centre was recently recognised for its architectural excellence with a National Award by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).
The centre is now on the shortlist for the RIBA Stirling Prize, for the best UK building of 2013.