A new Government strategy to support the sustainable development of the outdoor recreation sector will facilitate a major upgrade of facilities at the Cliffs of Moher and the Two Mile Gate recreation area near Killaloe.
The ‘Embracing Ireland’s Outdoors’ initiative will bring a more joined-up and cohesive approach to the development of outdoor recreation infrastructure at both a national and county level.
The strategy will involve the establishment of a Clare Outdoor Recreation Committee to ensure there is a focused and strategic approach to the development of local amenities.
As part of the new strategy, €768,204 has been allocated to three Clare projects under the latest tranche of funding from the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme (ORIS).
€500,000 will go towards repairing a looped section of the Cliffs of Moher North Coastal Walk; €180,900 towards upgrading facilities at Ballycuggeran/Two Mile Gate near Killaloe and €87,304 will be used to upgrade the Burren/Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark.
A stretch of the Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk has been identified as requiring a significant upgrade investment. It comprises an area of 2.7 Km on the northern section of the walk, approximately 1.5 kilometres north of the Visitor Centre.
It is proposed to install a boardwalk at the cliff side of the walking trail which would ensure safe access to users as well as people with mobility issues.
Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys TD announced €14m for the development of 59 outdoor recreation amenities and to support outdoor pursuits such as hiking, mountaineering, kayaking, and cycling on Monday (28th November, 2022).
Minister Humphreys made the funding announcement as she launched Ireland’s first-ever national outdoor recreation strategy, ‘Embracing Ireland’s Outdoors: National Outdoor Recreation Strategy 2023-2027’. The five-year strategy focuses on bringing a more joined-up and cohesive approach to the development of outdoor recreation infrastructure at both a national and county level.
At the Cliffs of Moher, funding of €500,000 will be used to carry out repair and upgrade works on a section of the Cliffs of Moher North Coastal Walk to improve visitor safety. The works include the repair of a 1.3km section of the existing walkway, part of which links in with the historical Doolin Road. In addition to the upgrade of the gravel paths, works will include drainage, fencing, stone wall repairs, handrails and the erection of safety signage.
At Ballycuggeran/Two Mile Gate, funding of €180,900 will enable the installation of new universally designed walkways that are wheelchair accessible with a surface that is safe for all users. Road improvements will allow safe access between the walking trail at Moylussa and the lake amenity at Ballycuggeran, two significant amenities within the area that are currently separated by a regional road. Other upgrades include provision of universally friendly picnic tables, upgrading of entry points to the green area/lake to allow them to be universally accessible, introduction of a new set of steps into the designated swimming area from the pier to facilitate entry by people with mobility issues, provision of a hoist to facilitate access to the water by people with disabilities, and lining of the car park to facilitate more spaces and creation of disabled persons’ parking spaces.
The Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark will receive €87,304 for upgrade works. This project will upgrade access to and visibility of the internationally accredited Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark by replacing existing signage and developing new signage for the Geopark’s Geosites and Heritage Trails and will include branded ‘welcome’ signage at main entry roads into the Geopark and into each town and village within the Geopark. The interpretative panels will contain information on the natural and cultural heritage of the Geopark and will include QR Codes linking to the Geopark’s website for more information. This project will improve the promotion of the trails and the unique heritage of the UNESCO Global Geopark and will ensure improved access to sites and trails and increased visibility of the prestigious UNESCO designation throughout the Geopark.
Welcoming the funding for the Clare projects, Cllr Tony O’Brien, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, said: “Outdoor recreation has many benefits for our mental and physical wellbeing. In County Clare, we are fortunate to have outdoor sites and amenities of outstanding quality. The projects being funded will add to the strong outdoor recreation offering in the county. I would like to thank Minister Humphreys and her Department for making funding available to progress these works.”
Pat Dowling, Chief Executive of Clare County Council, said: “This funding will support the delivery of quality facilities at three locations in County Clare and will allow more residents and visitors to take part in outdoor activities. The new outdoor recreation strategy launched by the Minister will further inform Clare County Council’s strategic approach to the development of the county’s many outdoor amenities and attractions.”
Leonard Cleary, Director of Rural Development, Clare County Council, added: “Developing the outdoor recreation sector in the county will bring welcome health and economic benefits in our rural communities. I would like to acknowledge all of the stakeholders, in particular community groups representing a range of sectors, for their input in these successful applications.”