The linear park beside the River Triogue in Portlaoise
Almost €200,000 has been announced today for rural trails and cycle-ways in Laois, one in the Slieve Bloom mountains and the other in Portlaoise town centre.
In Portlaoise, the largely hidden river Triogue is to get €99,500 for a new cycleway and paths.
The small river runs from the People's Park on the Timahoe road, under the link road, under Bridge street, through parish and Presentation sisters' land, under Church street and a railway bridge, into a little used park that exits at Green Mill road, near the old Dunnes Stores.
Making the Triogue a 'greenway' for walkers and cyclists, an environmentally friendly way of crossing the town, is featured among ambitious plans to transform Portlaoise by 2040 in the Portlaoise Public Realm strategy.
There is another €95,930 being given for the Slieve Bloom Way & Loop Walks in the mountains.
Laois/Offaly TD and Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan, announced the grants totalling €195,500 today Monday January 8.
"Today’s announcement will provide funding for the development of new outdoor recreational infrastructure such as trails, cycle-ways as well as the maintenance, enhancement and promotion of existing infrastructure," he said.
“This is extremely welcome and will help to boost tourism here in County Laois. I have been in close contact with Minister Ring regarding these projects and am delighted that funding will be provided to advance two projects in the county," Minister Flanagan said.
The grants are is in addition to the €1 million allocation for phase 1 of the Slieve Bloom Mountain Bike Trail and the €51,000 announced for local tourism projects in July 2017.
The allocation for the rural trails and cycle-ways projects under Measure 2 of the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme in County Laois. In total, thirty two projects under Measure 2 of the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme were approved funding.
“The maintenance of our trails, greenways and recreational amenities is hugely important for tourism across Ireland. It is critical that we continue to invest in infrastructure which enables people to access and enjoy Ireland’s wonderful natural environment," Minister Flanagan added.
"Outdoor recreational and adventure tourism is a key growth sector worldwide and has been identified as a priority for Irish tourism in future years. 2017 was a record year for tourism, with overseas visitors up by 3.7% to the end of November, and we will endeavour to keep this trend going. We will continue to prioritise projects that support the tourism industry which is so vital to rural Ireland," he said.
He said funding for rural recreation projects is hugely important for the health of the Irish nation.
“Last weekend, my Cabinet colleagues launched the 2018, Healthy Ireland campaign which aims to encourage and support people to make healthier choices – whether it’s physical activity, like walking, or making healthier choices at meal times. While they may seem small, these positive, sustainable changes all add up to a healthier lifestyle. Equally the development of outdoor infrastructure such as these walkways will encourage everyone to keep fit and live a healthy active lifestyle. I encourage everyone to get out and enjoy the fantastic free amenities in our communities all across Laois," he said.