June 30th 2023
My government colleague, Minister Heather Humphries, has announced a €3 million fund today to develop and upgrade over 300 forest parks, walking trails and outdoor amenity sites around the county under the 'Our Rural Future' programme. The funding is part of a Strategic Partnership between the Department of Rural and Community Development and Coillte that is designed to boost rural tourism and local economies, and it's great to see a number of popular spots in Carlow and Kilkenny benefitting from investment.
In Carlow, Clogrennan wood and Kilbrannish loop will receive capital investment of €23,000, along with funding for maintenance works and upgrades, and in Kilkenny Castlemorris demesne, Grenan loop, Jenkinstown park and Ballyrafton wood, the Castlecomer - Ardra loop, and Brandon Hill will benefit from a combined €40,000 in upgrades and improvements.
The 20 most popular Coillte forest parks were also revealed today, with two popular Kilkenny walking trails making the top 20. Jenkinstown Wood saw over 75,000 visitors last year, while while almost 60,000 people enjoyed a visit to Millenium Woods. It's great to see Kilkenny's forest parks and walking trails featuring among the best in the country, and as those tens of thousands of visitors will attest, the benefits that they provide in terms of our physical and mental wellbeing are huge.
Ireland's forest parks, walking and cycling trails, uplands and blueways are also really important assets in terms of attracting tourists to rural Ireland and supporting our local economies, so this is really valuable funing in terms of enhancing over 300 outdoor projects the length and breadth of the country, and giving people access to and time in nature.
This government is committed to smart investment rural communities, and growing the potential for sustainable tourism in this way is further proof of how we are delivering for rural areas under our landmark rural development policy, ‘Our Rural Future’, as well as our National Outdoor Recreation Strategy, ‘Embracing Ireland’s Outdoors’.