Laois urged to 'step up' after new funding for Slieve Blooms mostly goes to Offaly
Laois has been urged to "step up to the plate" to get the same level of funding for the Slieve Blooms as Offaly has just received.
Offaly has been granted €500,000 to develop new walks and a 2km cycleway in Kinnitty to compliment Coillte's Mountain Bike Trails, while Laois has received €270,000 for new direction and interpretative signs near and in the mountains for visitors.
It is among over €6 million of grants announced this Monday for major adventure tourism projects in Ireland by Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD.
Laois Offaly TD Sean Fleming, Minister of State at the Department of Finance is urging his county to come up with more proposals.
"I welcome the substantial progress being made on the Offaly side of the Slieve Blooms. It is vital that County Laois steps up to the plate with proposals to develop this great outdoor recreation facility to ensure both counties benefit equally under this Oudoor Recreation and Tourism Scheme.
He welcomed the announcement of funding of €270,000 for Laois.
"This funding will support the expansion of outdoor amenities including the bike trail which will benefit local communities and visitors alike.
"It is for the project “Destination Slieve Bloom” which is for the development and implementation of signage, orientation and an interpretation strategy in the area. This will help develop an integrated approach by all involved in the partnership for the Slieve Bloom development area. It will contribute to supporting healthy active lifestyles and build on the tourism potential of the area and will have major spin-off economic benefits locally.
He is calling on Laois County Council and Fáilte Ireland to work closely together to ensure that a substantial proposal is submitted for further funding from this scheme.
Laois Offaly TD Charlie Flanagan has also welcomed the €770,000 of funding.
“This has been a priority of mine for some time and I am delighted more money has become available for routes in the Slieve Bloom Mountain Trails, development of trails and a novice loop. Outdoor pursuits and recreation has a huge role to play in our lives and I am delighted that the money has become available for the Slieve Bloom Mountains, a recreational facility on our own doorsteps.”
Offaly Green Party Senator and Minister Pippa Hackett also welcomes the money.
“Outdoor recreation in Laois-Offaly is receiving €770,000 funding in this latest announcement. Mountain biking has become a hugely popular activity and it’s great to see it being developed in the Slieve Bloom mountains, with Kinnitty as a base. €500,000 is to be spent developing the biking trails. A further €270,000 will be spent on an orientation strategy for the mountain range. In addition to recent spending on the Grand Canal Greenway and the Shannon Master Tourism Plan, this adds greatly to Laois-Offaly’s tourism offering,” she said.
The fund is separate to Coillte's Slieve Bloom Mountain Bike Trails, which is partly completed with short trails already open at Kinnitty in Offaly, and Baunreagh near Mountrath in Laois.
There is now a 9km 'red grade' route opened in Baunreagh, for experienced mountain bikers, and a 10km 'blue grade' moderate to difficult route in Kinnitty. The trails are planned eventually join across the mountains in some 70km of routes. Laois is planned to eventually have a visitor hub with toilets, bike hire, bike wash and café at the trailhead, while in Offaly, visitor facilties are already available locally in Kinnitty village.