The Lough Derg Blueway has been announced as one of the first Blueways in the world to achieve official accreditation.
The 160km shoreline blueway in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands joins the the Boyne Blueway in Trim, Co. Meath and the Suir Blueway Tipperary in receiving accreditation. The Lough Derg Blueway water and land trails, which include walking and cycling trails, follow the shores and extend out into the countryside of Lough Derg across counties Galway, Tipperary and Clare.
Blueways are a brand-new outdoor recreation offering currently unique to Ireland. They encourage the use of lakes, canals, rivers and costal environments for walking, cycling, swimming, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding while engaging with nature and heritage.
Fáilte Ireland research shows that 73%* of domestic tourists engaged in outdoor activities, ranging from walking and hiking, to swimming, kayaking and canoeing, on their most recent overnight trip. The official accreditation of Blueways responds to this growing public demand for quality outdoor infrastructure close to water and nature. It will ensure Blueways will be a magnet for visitors and local residents seeking high-quality outdoor experiences.
The Blueway accreditation has been developed by Fáilte Ireland, Sport Ireland, Waterways Ireland, Sport Northern Ireland and Tourism Northern Ireland. An official accreditation will ensure all Blueways will be developed to a consistent high standard from a technical and safety perspective and will deliver best in class sustainable visitor experiences.
The three Blueways being accredited today at the Boyne, Trim Co. Meath; Suir Blueway Tipperary; and Lough Derg Blueway Tipperary, Clare and Galway, have been developed by Waterways Ireland and Local Authorities in line with the accreditation criteria and are now considered best-in-class destinations for water-based and water-side activities.
Commenting on the accreditation, Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin said ‘Under the Programme for Government, we committed to investing in and promoting Blueways and recreational trails for the benefit of local communities and tourists alike. The newly accredited Blueways announced today, will open up Meath, Tipperary, Clare and Galway to water-based and water-side activities.
Fáilte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly added: “Opening up the outdoors is a key strategic priority for Fáilte Ireland, and these accredited Blueways are another outstanding addition to our portfolio of outdoor activity infrastructure. They will tap into domestic and international activity and leisure tourism markets, reaping economic benefits for Meath, Clare, Galway and Tipperary, and other locations around the country as more Blueways receive accreditation.
“The last two years has shown us how important the outdoors is for not only our physical health but also our mental wellbeing and creating opportunities for people to partake in outdoor sport and physical activity is a key priority for Sport Ireland and it’s great to see the first three accredited Blueways launched in Ireland which I’m sure will be the first of many” added Sport Ireland CEO Una May.
John McDonagh CEO of Waterways Ireland said “Waterways Ireland welcomes the accreditation and launch of the Boyne, Suir and Lough Derg Blueways today. Blueways positively change the relationship between local communities and their waterscape by creating active engagement and participation, as well as business opportunities which local communities and tourists can all enjoy.
Pat Dowling, Chief Executive Clare County Council added, “The Lough Derg Blueway is one of the first to receive formal Blueway Accreditation status and this progress demonstrates the commitment of the three local authorities, Waterways Ireland as well as Fáilte Ireland to developing this Tourism Product. The Lough Derg Blueway since it’s launch in 2018 has attracted new business start ups as well as an increase in visitor numbers to this region of Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands. This is an excellent example of how Local Authorities can come together with state agencies, to support the tourism sector in promoting their product and the Blueway Brand.”