The Laois and Offaly sides of the Slieve Bloom mountains have been granted €770,000 to boost visitor facilities, with most of it going to Offaly.
The Department of Rural and Community Development is giving €270,000 to Laois County Council for a project called 'Destination Slieve Bloom'. It is for the design and installation of new road signs directing visitors to the Slieve Blooms, and interpretative signs in the mountains.
The project "seeks to develop an integrated programme by all stakeholders for the Slieve Bloom area under the Slieve Bloom Development Partnership.
Offaly County Council has received €500,000 to create a route from Kinnitty village to the starting point of the Slieve Bloom Mountain Bike Trails, and to build a new ‘Kinnitty Woods Novice-Grade mountain bike trail loop'.
Offaly has also received funding for a project called 'Rediscovering Castle Bernard’s Historic Bridges”.
The projects are aimed to compliment Coillte's Slieve Bloom Mountain Bike Trails, which is partly completed. Short trails are 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 to 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.
In all over €6 million was announced for 14 large-scale projects under Measure 3 of the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme, by Minister Heather Humphreys TD.
The investment involves a significant development of popular outdoor amenities such as trails, walkways, cycleways, and blueways.
It is in addition to the €9.7 million approved for 212 small and medium projects earlier this year, and is being funded in partnership with Fáilte Ireland.
Minister Humphreys announced the funding on March 22.
“I know how important our outdoor amenities have been to everyone during Covid-19. That’s why one of my main priorities is investing in the great outdoors. Our greenways blueways, trails, cycle paths and forest walks. These projects will benefit local communities and visitors alike,” she said.
Other examples of the projects awarded funding include:
· Co. Galway – Improvements to the Connemara Trails and Eurovelo Route, including the replacement of two bridges along the Western Way and an upgrade to the mountain bike trail at Derroura Oughterard: €500,000.
· Co. Wicklow – Development of the Blue-light Blueway from Bray along the coast of Wicklow to Wexford: €499,338.
· Co. Limerick – Upgrade to the Limerick Greenway (Abbeyfeale, Newcastle West, Rathkeale and surrounding areas): €418,662.
· Co. Roscommon – Investment in the Mote Forest Park Outdoor Recreation Trail Experience and Cycle Link to Beara Breifne Way: €500,000.
· Co. Carlow - Connecting the Wicklow Way with the South Leinster Way: €371,250.
· Co. Monaghan – Significant enhancements of Hollywood Forest Park, which include the provision of a quality freshwater bathing site: €276,385.
· Co. Donegal – Letterkenny to Burtonport Greenway – The Muckish Railway Walk enhancement: €500,000.
· Co Cavan – Improved access to the new ‘Killykeen Way, a 12km cycle and walking trail linking Killykeen Forest Park and Killeshandra.
· Cos. Cork, Mayo, Leitrim & Galway - Improved safety and sustainable access at four angling locations, including wheelchair accessible platforms: €500,000.