FÁILTE Ireland is set to support an approved Local Link bus service for East Clare, boosting public transport facilities for visitors and residents alike. News of the development was secured by Deputy Cathal Crowe who said additional routes will be added as part of the Shannon Tourism Masterplan, which was unveiled last week. The Fianna Fáil TD said that the planned investment will play a major role in rejuvenating the entire east of the county.
“There is huge untapped potential in terms of Lough Derg and East Clare’s tourism product,” said Deputy Crowe. “For many decades, the entire focus has been on developing the Cliffs of Moher and West Clare’s tourism offering and while this has been great, it has led to an imbalance of tourism development within our county and there has been a neglect of the Lough Derg-Lower Shannon area for too long.”
Deputy Crowe also noted the importance of the new routes in the context of the acceleration in plans to develop the visitor centre for Holy Island.
“In recent years, it has been a focal point for Clare County Council with plans now well advanced to develop Inis Cealtra and attract visitors to the historic Lough Derg island and now, over €70m of public money being channelled into developing tourism products for the region. Senior Fáilte Ireland figures have told me that they intend to have an approved Local Link bus service in the area, which would enable both tourists and locals to travel on an orbital basis around Lough Derg, taking in Killaloe-Ballina and the fantastic communities of East Clare including Tuamgraney, Oggonnelloe, Scariff, Mountshannon and Whitegate.”
The Meelick-based TD also noted that the Local Link services would enhance connectivity with neighbouring counties, bordering Lough Derg.
“It also provides the opportunity to take in the eastern shore of Lough Derg in Tipperary, with northerly links to Portumna in south Galway,” he said. “I think it goes without saying that this would be of immense benefit to those living in the region but also far easier on tourists descending into East Clare and the Lough Derg region to move freely between communities and stay in different areas. East Clare will be specifically targeting slow tourism which is cyclists, walkers and trekkers – public transport will be a major added bonus to those looking at East Clare for their trip.”
The Shannon Tourism Masterplan was unveiled last week, under the leadership of Waterways Ireland, and with significant input from Clare County Council and Fáilte Ireland. The document identifies Holy Island and the Ardnacrusha hydro-electric power station as key tourism assets along the River Shannon in Clare. The plan proposes an investment of over €76 million in visitor facilities, along the river, up to 2030.
Clare features in a Lower Shannon Discovery Zone which runs from Portumna to Limerick.
The new masterplan also underlines the importance of the proposed Shannon Greenway which will link Limerick via Clonlara, Ardnacrusha, O’Brien’s Bridge, Killaloe/Ballina, Tuamgraney and Scariff. In addition, it recommends linking the route to Mountshannon where the Inis Cealtra visitor centre is to be developed.