Bright and beautiful sunflowers are set to bloom along the Foyle and beyond this summer as part of special plans to remember John, Tomás and Amelia Mullan.

The Redcastle Sunflower Festival is always a popular challenge for families, but this year, the competition will be opened to anyone, anywhere, who wants to pay tribute to the Mullan family.

Dad John, son Tomás (aged 14) and daughter Amelia (six) continue to be in the hearts and minds of so many communities after they lost their lives in a tragic car accident along the river Foyle last August.

The Mullan Family

This year, in the lead up to the first anniversary, it is hoped that hundreds of flowers can be planted and bloomed in gardens everywhere to spread a little happiness in their honour.

John Mullan ran a flourishing garden centre in Moville and took great joy in helping customers take care of their own gardens. Young Amelia followed in his footsteps when she wholeheartedly embraced the sunflower festival challenge last year and grew her own impressive flowers with the help of her brother and her father.

The Redcastle Sunflower Festival committee have decided to welcome everyone to take part this year and to enjoy planting sunflowers with some expert guidance from the Mullan children. Their mother Geraldine Mullan has helped to create Amelia’s growing guide which will be published by the festival committee.

Organiser Tanya McColgan is welcoming everybody to get involved and share a little sunshine.

She said: “Sunflowers are known as a happy flower. The month of August is going to be a challenging time for Amelia and Tomás’ school friends, but we hope that if they put their focus and energy into growing their sunflowers and seeing them bloom, I think it will be nice for them.

“Families and individuals can take part and enjoy the process of starting something from a seed, starting it in a little pot and when it’s warm enough, to have them planted outside and supported, or tied together to the support one another. With the lockdown and these strange times, they really add joy and sunshine, and come the winter time the seeds will feed the birds and insects.”

Residents along the Foyle will be encouraged to put their flowers on display to brighten the roadsides and everyone can get involved with the competition wherever they are by entering online in September.

There is a prize for the tallest sunflower and for photos of ‘nature visitors’ like bees, butterflies and ladybirds, on their flowers. Details of how to enter will be shared on the Redcastle Village Association in due course.

The association will also be sharing details on how to get giant seeds, and if anyone is isolating and unable to get seeds, they can get in touch with the page to have seeds posted out: