Umar Muhammad, age 8, from Carrickfergus, has been crowned the Young Travel Writer 2018, impressing judges with his creativity, imagination and story-telling. With an incredible response of over 100 entries, Umar has beaten off strong competition and an array of creativity from across Northern Ireland.

Umar’s winning entry told the story of his adventures on the Maritime Mile in Belfast, discovering the rich maritime history on offer. He also completed his entry with imaginative illustrations, detailing a map of his explorations on his bicycle, as one of the entry requirements for his category.

Rosemarie McHugh, Director of Product Development at Tourism NI, congratulated Umar on his win: “Umar’s entry stood out in terms of bringing our heritage to life through a wonderful adventure on his bike, demonstrated with lovely colourful illustrations and a story that showed how much fun he had on his travels.  We hope Umar and his family enjoy their stay at the wonderful Blackhead Lightkeeper’s House and we hope to see his adventures captured on his new camera!”

Umar was selected as the winner of his category, the P3-P4 group, before being chosen as the Young Travel Writer 2018.

Gemma O’Neill, Northern Ireland illustrator and children’s author, was the Young Travel Writers judge for Umar’s category: “We have such a rich maritime history here in Northern Ireland and it’s something that should definitely be explored more. The trail that Umar took sounded like a lot of fun and he’s done very well to structure all the lovely places and things he saw into the piece of writing.

“His piece has a strong beginning, middle and end. It’s very descriptive and the personal tone brings an extra depth to it. It’s a lovely piece of writing, along with his fantastic drawing that captured his adventure. It was a pleasure to read and I’ve discovered a new trail that I’ll have to explore now myself!”

The winners of the other Young Travel Writer categories include:

  • P5 – P7 group: Maya O’Hagan, age 8
  • Year 8 – 10 group: Euan McCaughey, age 12
  • GCSE group: Emma Gillespie, age 14
  • Video group: Michael Tomek, age 10

Open to budding young writers and filmmakers from the ages of 6 to 16 years old, the competition has highlighted that the amount of imagination and talent across the region is second-to-none. Entrants have shared plenty of captivating tales from their adventures during the European Year of Cultural Heritage, demonstrating how there is always something exciting to explore right on your doorstep.

Rosemarie added, “We’re delighted to see the level of interest in the competition – we have had a fantastic number of entries and congratulations to all those who were shortlisted and won their categories. It was very difficult to choose an overall winner as we had such a variety of entries, from imaginative poems detailing explorations around NI to incredibly impressive video content.”

The winners of each category have received a GoPro Hero 5, and Umar, as the overall Young Travel Writer 2018, has also won an exclusive weekend break at Blackhead Lightkeeper’s House with his family in Northern Ireland. Tourism NI has hosted the Young Travel Writers competition in association with partners, Department for Communities, Heritage Lottery Fund, the Arts Council and the British Council.

To view Umar’s winning entry visit

To get inspiration for family breaks across Northern Ireland please visit

Pictured (l-r) are: Maya O’Hagan, winner of the P5-P7 category; Gemma O’Neill, illustrator, children’s author and Young Travel Writers judge; Euan McCaughey, winner of the Year 8-10 category; Umar Muhammad, winner of the P3-P4 category and the overall Young Travel Writer 2018; Rosemarie McHugh, Tourism NI Director of Product Development and Young Travel Writers judge; and Michael Tomek, winner of the video category.

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