THE sun shone down as people turned out in their droves for the launch of the South Laois Tourism cycle trail last Sunday morning.
The cycle trail was offically opened in Durrow by the GAA President Liam O’ Neill. The five on-road cycle trails are the first ever cycle trails in the county. They range from 8km to 48km and loop from Durrow to Cullahill, Ballacolla, Ballinakill and Attanagh, while also connecting with the Kilkenny Cycle Trails in Gathabaun.
A number of groups came together to make the cycle trails happen which Michael G Phelan said was two years in the making.
“It is a really good project and it will be of great benefit to the area, people will be able to find their way around all the towns and villages. It improves the whole area,” he said..
Michael, who acted as MC for the day, thanked everyone involved for their contribution, including the South Laois Tourism group, Failte Ireland, Laois Partnership, Laois County Council and Laois Sports Partnership. Failte Ireland financed the map boards and cards for the project, while Laois Partnership gave 75 per cent funding for the signage, with South Laois Tourism raising money for the other 25 per cent. Laois County Council provided sign licences and insurance for the trails.
Michael also thanked Eoghan Hogan from Kilkenny trails, and Michael Malumphy from North Tipp cycling club.
GAA President, Liam O’Neill commended all involved for the delivery of a positive development in a time of difficulty.
“I congratulate the local community tourism group, South Laois Tourism, who have spearheaded the project and brought several agencies together to design, sign and promote the cycle trails”, he said.
Laois Partnership Company Chairman, Michael Bergin, also praised the initiative.
“We are also supporting the development of new walks in Cullahill and Abbeyleix, upgrade of existing walks in Durrow and marketing support for festivals taking place in the region. It is my hope that our support for all of community led projects will encourage visitors to stay in the county for longer,” he said.
Representing Laois County Council were Cllr Brendan Phelan and Sports Officer, Anne Marie Maher who both thanked all agencies involved and wished the group well into the future.
After the launch a large group of people set off on the selection of trails and two Ballyroan natives managed the 48km trail in an hour and a half.
Michael said that the feedback from the cyclists was great with everyone enjoying the challenge, especially at The Ballagh, a steep hill between Cullahill and Durrow.
For more information contact the South Laois tourist office at 087 601 5862 or visit the South Laois Tourism website.