Funding for rural outdoor amenities welcomed

Funding for rural outdoor amenities welcomed


Funding has been made available to the River Fergus Walk/Cycleway Project

The Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, Cllr Mary Howard, has welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, of €200,000 in funding under the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme (ORIS) 2020 (Measure 2) for two projects in County Clare.

These projects are among 38 projects in the country to benefit from €6.5 million in funding announced by the Minister on 4th March. This investment is in addition to the €88,250 approved for County Clare for five smaller Measure 1 projects that was announced in January.

The scheme provides funding for the development, promotion and maintenance of outdoor amenities such as trails, walkways, cycleways and blueways. The funding announced under Measure 2 of the scheme provides funding of €200,000 for each of the two projects in the county, namely:

(1) River Fergus Walk/Cycleway Project – this project will see the development of a universally accessible walkway/cycleway connecting the outskirts of Ennis to the outskirts of the adjoining village of Clarecastle

(2) Trail Head and Canoe Project – this project entails the development of a series of canoe trails (four) and trail head at O’Briensbridge. The access and egress at O’Briensbridge will be via a floating pontoon jetty.

Cllr Howard said: “The importance and value of our outdoor recreational facilities and the contribution they make to our physical and mental wellbeing has been highlighted in the past year. There is a greater appreciation for these facilities with a marked increase in the number of people using our walking trails, cycleways, parks and other resources to exercise and keep fit, while respecting the guidelines on social distancing during the Covid-19 crisis.”

Mayor of Clare Cllr Mary Howard – Photo: Eamon Ward

Speaking on the announcement, Pat Dowling, Chief Executive of Clare County Council, made reference to the importance of this funding, which has provided investment for the development of new amenities and the enhancement of existing facilities since 2016. Mr Dowling said: “Investment in outdoor recreation facilities will play an important part in supporting the county’s social and economic recovery as restrictions are lifted and the tourism sector re-opens. These facilities will represent a tremendous long-term asset for communities and visitors alike into the future.”

Leonard Cleary, Director of Rural Development, Clare County Council, said: “The delivery of the two projects funded under the scheme will be beneficial from the perspective of encouraging outdoor tourism and recreation activities. This will enable people to experience more closely the unique natural heritage on offer in the county and will play a key role in developing environmentally sustainable tourism. The Trail Head and Canoe Project will be led by Waterways Ireland in partnership with other statutory agencies and in association with the local host communities. The River Fergus Walk/Cycleway Project, which links Ennis to Clarecastle, will be led by Clare County Council’s Project Management Office and builds on the significant research initiated by the local community in Clarecastle and supported by the business community in Ennis.”

A further announcement in respect of large-scale projects under the ORIS, with funding of up to €500,000, is expected in the coming weeks.