Laois on garden tourist map

Wicklow may be the Garden of Ireland but county hall is about to embark on a big project to attract garden tourists to Laois.

Wicklow may be the Garden of Ireland but county hall is about to embark on a big project to attract garden tourists to Laois.

Speaking at the launch of midlandsireland.ie last week, Peter Carey, County Manager,said the garden trail is almost ready to be launched.

“The garden trail is about to be launched very shortly. We have a network of gardens who have come together for the first time. There will be a necklace of gardens to visit,” he said.

The trail includes the State-owned gardens at Emo Court and Heywood as well as Ballintubbert Gardens run by Fergus Hoban and Fruitlawn Garden near Abbeyleix which is run by Arthur Shackelton.

Mr Hoban, who spoke at last week’s launch, said there is a huge market in Britain for garden tourism and he hoped to tap into this market and, in the process, bring tourists and income to Laois.

Mr Carey said he was awaiting news from Failte Ireland about the size of a grant to back the €4 million bicycle tourism project in the Slieve Blooms. Coillte and Offaly County Council are partners in the project.

“We are looking for 90% capital support as opposed to 75% which is already available. It will come from the National Capital Tourism Fund,” he told the Leinster Express.

Mr Carey wants to be working on the project by the summer and is “confident” that 90% of the funding will be approved. The county manager said Coillte have just completed a national strategy for such facilities and they have confirmed that the Laois plan will be one of the main projects.