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Callout for Laois to get slice of multi-million fund to support adventure in the great outdoors

Callout for Kilkenny applications for €14 Million fund to support outdoor adventure activities

Laois hurlers, Ronan Broderick, Willie Dunphy, Mark Hennessy and James Ryan take to the water to support the River Erkina Blueway fundraiser. Picture: Alf Harvey

Applications are being invited to get a slice fof €14 million in funding for outdoor recreation projects and investments that will support the adventure tourism sector in rural communities.

The funding, which is being provided under the Outdoor Recreation and Infrastructure Scheme, the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, has today opened a call for ap.

Her Department says the focus is the development of rural Ireland’s unique natural amenities and support outdoor pursuits and adventure activities such as hiking/mountaineering, cycling, horse-riding, canoeing/kayaking, swimming, surfing, sailing, rock-climbing, fishing, paragliding and hang-gliding.

The fund will provide for investment in the development of outdoor trails, walkways, cycleways, blueways, tidal pools, floating boardwalks and bridleways.

Applicants are encouraged to consider opportunities to develop recreational amenities and increase public access and enjoyment of rural Ireland’s mountains, lakes, rivers, forests, beaches and bogs. 

The Department says the announcement is aimed at supporting outdoor recreation tourism, a growing tourism sector internationally, which has the potential to have major economic spin-off benefits for rural towns and villages as well as improving the health and well-being of rural communities.

“As part of Our Rural Future, the Government’s ambitious new policy for rural development, I want to see rural Ireland become a destination of choice domestically and internationally for outdoor pursuits and adventure tourism," said Minister Humphreys.

“The €14m Fund I am announcing today is focused on supporting a wide range of activities and projects for persons of all ages and abilities.

“I want to see applications coming forward which seek to develop and improve access to rural Ireland’s unique, natural amenities such as our lakes, rivers and beaches, as well as our forests, mountains and bogs.

“Through this fund, we will invest in the development of forest and mountain trails, tidal pools, floating boardwalks on our lakes and bogs, greenways, blueways, bridleways and much more.

“Covid-19 has given us all a renewed appreciation for our great outdoors. Through this fund, I want us to develop our fantastic natural amenities so that people can access them and enjoy them.

“Successful projects will also bring significant economic spin off benefits for our rural towns and villages by attracting both domestic and international tourists in the future,” she said.

Projects applications will be accepted from Local Authorities under the following Measures:

·         Measure 1 for small scale projects requiring funding of up to €20,000,

·         Measure 2 for medium scale projects with funding of up to €200,000,

·         Measure 3 for large scale projects seeking funding of up to €500,000, and

·         Project Development Measure funding of up to €50,000 for development costs for strategic large scale projects.

Also welcoming the funding, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD, said:

“Over the last 3 years, Fáilte Ireland has invested €11million to the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme, with a further €4million committed for 2021.

“Our partnership has helped transform the landscape of Ireland by investing in infrastructure across the country to expand and develop facilities for outdoor recreation activities including walking, cycling, watersports and running.

“With 226 projects funded to date in 2021, we look forward to supporting the Department of Community and Rural Development and Fáilte Ireland in developing the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme for 2021. 

“With increasing numbers of people participating in outdoor activities, especially during the COVID-19 crisis, the ORIS scheme supports the development of new routes and paths, provides invaluable funding towards improvements, maintenance and upkeep of some of Ireland’s most popular trails.  

“These outdoor amenities provide access to healthy, sustainable recreation for locals and visitors alike, while also providing economic benefit for local communities nationwide,” she said.


The Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Fund is open to Local Authorities, State Bodies (EG. Coillte, Waterways Ireland) and Local Development Companies.

Applicants should identify projects which will support the increased use of, and access to, natural amenities in their areas e.g. mountains, lakes, rivers, forests, bogs, beaches.

Other related projects include tidal pools, forest walks, mountain access routes, trail access to birdwatching locations, floating boardwalks on lakes / bogs, and natural play areas included as part of larger trail or other outdoor recreation infrastructure project.


The Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme (ORIS) will provide funding as follows:


·         Measure 1 –

o   Small scale repair/development/promotion and marketing.

o   Funding of up to €20,000 at a 90% rate of aid.

o   Maximum of 7 applications can be submitted by each Local Authority.

o   Maximum of 3 applications (increased from 2 in 2020) can be submitted by each Local Development Company.


·         Measure 2 –

o   Medium scale upgrade and new trail/amenity development.

o   Funding of up to €200,000 at a 90% rate of aid.

o   Maximum of 3 applications can be submitted by each Local Authority.


·         Measure 3 –

o   Large scale repair/upgrade and new strategic trail/amenity development

o   Funding of up to €500,000 at a 90% rate of aid

o    Maximum of one application can be submitted by each Local Authority  or State Body e.g. Coillte.


·         A Project Development Measure has been included on a trial basis which funds–

o   Development costs for strategic large scale Measure 2 or Measure 3 type projects e.g. detailed design, preparation for the planning and/or procurement, appropriate assessment etc.

o   Funding of up to €50,000 at a 90% rate of aid

o   Maximum of one proposal can  be submitted by any Local Authority.


The deadline for applications for Measure 1 is 30th June 2021 


The deadline for applications for Measures 2, 3 & the Project Development Measure is 30th July 2021.


ORIS is delivered by the Department of Rural and Community Development in partnership with Fáilte Ireland.

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