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€200k allocation for walk and cycle route that will link to planned West Clare greenway

THE Government has given the green light for a new walk and cycle route that will eventually link Clarecastle to Ennis and on to the planned West Clare Greenway Local TD Joe Carey welcomed the allocation of €200,000 under the Government’s Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme Measure 2 to the River Fergus Walk & Cycle project, saying he is “overjoyed” the first phase of the cycle and walking route has been approved”. The Clarecastle-based TD recounted how he has lobbied his colleagues in government on the project for several years, including Minister for the OPW Patrick O’Donovan who visited the area in December 2020. The Fine Gael deputy said: “This is really exciting news for the community. The River Fergus Walk & Cycle will be a fantastic amenity that residents, commuter and visitors to the area will enjoy for generations to come.” It has been several years since the Clarecastle Community Development Ltd (CCDL) and Ennis Chamber identified the opportunity to …

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Ten years in, Clare-based network is a world leader in sustainable tourism

THE Burren Ecotourism Network is celebrating its 10th anniversary, marking a decade of growth, achievements and awards which have seen it become a worldwide leader in sustainable tourism. The network which now consists of nearly 70 tourism businesses has grown from 18 founding members when it was launched by Darina Allen and then Mayor of Clare, Councillor Christy Curtin at Gregans Castle Hotel on March 3, 2011.   Members range from operators like Burren Fine Wine & Foods and Marie McGauran’s Burren Walks to iconic tourist attractions such as the Cliffs of Moher. Businesses include those from hospitality, food, farming, activities, culture and heritage sectors, all committed to sustainable tourism in the Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark. During the 10 years that followed the network continued to develop, with new members joining and initiatives in food and sustainability. This has contributed to the tourism group being widely regarded as ‘best in class’, with regular invitations to share the Burren story …

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Out & About – On the Run

I don’t run. My last attempt was during the first lockdown when I downloaded a “Couch to 5k” app. I’m still on the couch. So I am filled with awe and admiration for the runners that pass me by, whether they are lithe gazelles loping by or shufflers going just above walking speed. But I sometimes wonder “do they really enjoy it?”. And based on some local runners giving their experience here, it seems that they do. Are you tempted to try it? Mary Killeen Byrt, Ennis While out for a walk I wondered how I could get through the ‘Winter of Discontent’ of another lockdown, I came up with the ‘brilliant’ idea of doing a virtual couch to 5k with my 3 daughters who are based in Dublin, Brussels and Brighton. And so the Couch to Potato WhatsApp group was formed with the goal of running a 5k together on Christmas Day! There are days when running is a …

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Cormac brings Clare coast to life online

AT A time when thousands of us are learning to appreciate the natural world within our 5km travel limit, a Donegal man is offering a fascinating insight into the wealth of plant and animal life around his North Clare home. Cormac McGinley, who is an expert in zoology and marine biology, spent 11 years as a ranger at the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre before setting up his own coastal walking tours company. While the pandemic put a bit of a spanner in the works, Cormac admits, he decided to make good use of his time by sharing photos, videos and expert insights on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. “I live in Liscannor, so literally, wherever I walk within the travel limits, there is something spectacular to see,” he said. “I was building up the tours business and working with Leaving Cert students giving Geography field trips, and also training companies based along the Wild Atlantic Way. Then, …

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Clare host for virtual Féile Bríde event on Saturday

HOPES for the arrival of Spring are closely associated with St Brigid’s Day and, in normal times, thousands would have made the pilgrimage last Monday to the saint’s well in Liscannor. This year, to mark the day and to celebrate the ancient festival of Imbolc, a virtual event is being hosted by the Irish peace and justice organisation Afri and will include two Clare-based contributors. The virtual Féile Bríde takes place from 3-5pm next Saturday, February 6, and will feature a combination of inspirational talks, poetry and music, combined with the live-streaming of the annual tree planting ceremony. Afri coordinator Joe Murray said he’s looking forward to the event and expecting several hundred attendees from throughout Ireland and abroad. “We’re surprised by the huge volume of registrations already this year,” he remarked. “It feels like people are particularly hungry for hope in these times and that is understandable given all that is going on in the world. February is a time …

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Inspiring hope through travel tales

Lahinch author Ruairí McKiernan writes about the challenges of writing his first book, overcoming initial rejection from publishers, and then launching what became a No.1 bestseller at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. It was never my dream to write a book, but it seemed life had other plans. The first call to write came when I was 23 and living in Canada. A publisher approached me after hearing me on the radio discussing globalisation. I was no expert on the subject, but I decided to give it a go. A third of the way through the first draft I gave up. Too hard, too time-consuming; the writing life not for me. “Never again,” I said. Fast forward a decade. I’m hitchhiking around Ireland on what I called a listening tour; seeking out hope for myself and my country. At that time I was burnt out, feeling lost and depressed, and so too was post-boom Ireland. I began meditating, bringing awareness to …

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Happy Howly Christmas everyone.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Well, I hope you all enjoyed the Christmas break. I know it was a bit different from other years but that didn’t make it any worse. Before the real lockdown happened, I got the chance to pay a flying visit to two of my favourite places – Brooklodge in Wicklow and The Twelve in Barna. We hardly stirred from either hotel, with lazy days spent snoozing in the room or in the lounge. A change is as good as a rest and snoozing in different surroundings is very refreshing I always find. I had some sad news in BrookLodge though. My friend Oscar went to Doggie Heaven a few weeks before our arrival. I’ll miss him as he was always good for a laugh and a gossip. He had a lovely, long, happy life though and that’s all a dog ever wants. On the way to Galway from BrookLodge, we stopped in Dublin to meet my Aunty Aileen and we …

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Banner teams strive for title of Ireland’s fittest family

TWO ultra-fit Clare families will put their strength and stamina to the test on national television over the coming weeks in a bid to be crowned Ireland’s Fittest Family. The hit TV show, which already features Clare man and Wexford hurling boss, Davy Fitzgerald, will see the Kulczynski family from Ennis and the O’Halloran family from Newpark, Kilkishen go through extreme endurance challenges in settings from ski slopes to bogs. Over the course of the series, which started last Sunday on RTÉ One, a total of 16 families will be whittled down to four for a gruelling final contest, from which only one winning team can emerge. With highly impressive fitness credentials, the Kulczynski family are hotly tipped to stay in contention until the very end. Elite junior triathlete, Sabian has multiple national titles in triathlons, aquathons and duathlons and represents Ireland in competitions across Europe. He is a swimmer, mountain biker, road biker and used to run cross country. …

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