• Cyril McAree

Minister Kyne Welcomes €1.9 million Fáilte Ireland Funding For Connemara National Park

Minister of State for Gaeilge, the Gaeltacht and the Islands Seán Kyne, T.D. has today (Monday, 3rd December) announced funding approval of €1.9 million by Fáilte Ireland for the Connemara National Park. This significant investment will provide more reasons for visitors to explore the region by providing a new and unique outdoor recreation experience of the cultural heritage of the Connemara National Park that complements the natural beauty of the landscape.

The funding will include the development of an additional 10.5 Km of new trails, a children’s natural play area, visitor carpark at Mweelin and a new Lime Kiln Trail to enhance access to more areas of the National Park. The project, when completed, will allow visitors to explore higher level walking and hiking providing greater access to five of the Park’s mountains including Binn Bhán, the highest mountain in Co Galway.

The project is part of Fáilte Ireland’s strategic partnership with the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht’s National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to achieve the aims of further developing quality visitor experiences at Ireland’s National Parks while conserving and protecting the natural environment for the enjoyment of future generations. National Parks provide easily accessible places for visitors to connect with Ireland’s famed landscapes, help boost tourism and support economic opportunities in rural areas where they are situated.

The improvements to the recreational trail system in the Park will include:

Improvements to the Ellis Wood nature trail Improving the sustainability of the Diamond Hill trails The development of an all ability trail from the main car park linking to the Ellis Wood nature trail Development of an all ability trail around the park’s pond area Development of a sensory trail Development of a new farm trail

Welcoming the Fáilte Ireland funding, Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan T.D said:

“I welcome the €1.9m in funding from Fáilte Ireland in Connemara National Park. Continued investment in walking and hiking infrastructure in the Park provides new incentives for people to visit and experience Connemara’s unique culture and heritage. Investment in our natural heritage sites not only allows us preserve our natural environment but it improves health, wellbeing and through sustainable tourism it can improve the local and national economy. Our Parks highlight our beautiful and iconic scenery; showcasing rich geological, ecological and cultural heritage.

Through infrastructural projects such as the one announced today we can continue to protect both our landscape and indeed our cultural evolution.”

Minister of State for Gaeilge, the Gaeltacht and the Islands, Seán Kyne T.D. said:

“Connemara National Park is one of our most popular National Parks and sees more than a quarter of a million visitors each year. And it's no wonder, with its beautiful landscape, varied habitats, indigenous herds and wonderful husbandry, guide and maintenance staff. I am delighted that through the Department’s strategic partnership with Fáilte Ireland the Park has secured €1.9 m for infrastructural development. Using the funding to create experiences such as “the Lime Kiln Trail”, we will provide a unique trail experience showcasing the Park’s cultural heritage. With investment in new experiences like this we hope to give local people and visitors alike more choice while also better managing visitor numbers so that we can protect our wonderful habitats and encourage sustainable and responsible tourism.”

Orla Carroll, Director of Product Development added:

“Our consumer research shows that visits to National Parks are seen as an important element of a holiday to Ireland. Tourism is a very competitive marketplace and we have to remain constantly aware of the trends and requirements of an ever more discerning consumer. We are keenly aware that a key motivator for our visitors in choosing to come to Ireland is our landscape. Connemara National Park is a key attraction along the Wild Atlantic Way and it has seen a rapid expansion in visitor numbers over recent years with more than 250,000 visitors annually. The popularity of the Connemara National Park reflects the quality and richness of the environment and the beauty of the landscape. This significant investment by Fáilte Ireland will see an increased choice of trails and public amenities resulting in an enhanced experience for visitors.”

As part of the event, Minister Kyne also raised the Green Flag which was recently awarded to the National Park and planted an Oak Tree with members of Criost Linn Ability West.

Connemara National Park has had a number of employees from Críost Linn working in the National Park since 1994 and who have all made an important contribution to the Park. They are currently working on a project to replant oaks in the National Park from acorns gathered from old oak woodlands.

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