Killinamuck Bog was officially handed over to the people of Abbeyleix, when Bord na Mona completed the signing of a 50-year lease to the local bog committee.
The signing of the long term lease this week in the Abbeyleix Manor Hotel, was the culmination of almost 12 years work by a local committee.
Chairperson of the Bog Committee, Gary O’Keeffe welcomed the official handover.
“This is a project that started in July 2000 when the community decided that the bog should be preserved. It was an unheard of event, to have such a large area - 500 acres in total handed over to the community. It has been a long road, sometimes an arduous road,” he said at the signing.
“The large area is unusual because it’s always the first area destroyed when a bog is going to be developed.
“It’s one of only three sites in the country that has an intact lagg, so that has received international attention in terms of ecology, research studies, even the whole edu-tourism type thing again.
“We would be hoping that if we get our plan right and we structure everything right and we get the right people on board that this could be very beneficial for the whole community,” Mr O’Keefke said.
But one of the first major projects that the committee are looking at implementing is a raised boardwalk around the perimeter of the bog, which will allow wheelchair access.
According to Mr O’Keeffe it will be one of the only bogs in Ireland with proper wheelchair access. A long term visionary plan of the group is to build a research centre on the site.
Speaking at the signing of a 50 year lease, Gabriel D’Arcy, CEO said that the project in Abbeyleix was a good example of the semi-state’s social and economic policy.
He said that Bord na Mona were rehabilitating and bringing raised bogs back to nature, while ensuring that no new bogs are brought into service.
“We fully support efforts to restore the last remaining examples of raised bogs in Ireland, while transferring ownership of raised bogs to the National Parks and Wildlife services,” he said.
He said the Killinamuck lease signing was great example of this policy in Abbeyleix. Fine Gael TD, Charlie Flanagan and Labour Senator John Whelan welcomed the signing of the lease.