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More than €180,000 has been allocated to develop the Two Mile gate area at Ballycuggaran, Killaloe. Photograph by John Kelly

Over €750,000 for Clare to develop two key outdoor amenities

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TWO of Clare’s top outdoor amenities will share funding worth €768,204 under the Embracing Ireland’s Outdoors initiative.

A sum of €500,000 has been allocated to develop the Cliffs of Moher North Coastal Walk, with another €87,304 going to the Cliffs and Burren Geopark for upgrade works.

Meanwhile €180,900 has been allocated to Ballycuggaran/Two Mile Gate in the east of the county for the upgrade of facilities there.

Minister Heather Humphreys launched the Embracing Ireland’s Outdoors initiative today, a five-year strategy aimed at developing outdoor recreation nationwide.

Deputy Joe Carey said that the funding for the Cliffs of Moher looped walk is particularly significant and he had made a strong case to Rural and Community Development Minister Heather Humphreys in support of an application from Clare County Council for funding under the ORIS scheme.

“With the backing of local landowners, the IFA and the Clare Local Development Company, the council is ready to proceed with this project and can meet ten per cent of the cost,” Deputy Carey explained.

“Opened in 2011 under the National Walks Scheme and managed by the Clare Local Development Company, the Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk extends for about 18 kilometres from the villages of Doolin and Liscannor. It has given a major boost to the local economy by increasing the dwell time of visitors and secondary spend in the area.

“A stretch of the Coastal Walk has been identified as requiring a significant upgrade investment. It comprises an area of 2.7 Km on the northern section of the Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk, approximately 1.5 kilometers north of the Visitor Centre.

“The proposed project involves repair, upgrade, and creation of a 2.7 km looped section of the Cliffs of Moher North Coastal Walk to improve visitor safety and reinstate biodiversity along the cliff edge.

“This section of the walk has poor underfoot conditions particularly at a section of the trail which does not have a gravel path. The land has poor drainage resulting in very wet terrain which is often impassable for walkers. The difficult nature of the terrain excludes users with mobility issues and lower levels of fitness.

“The current trail extends inland away from the cliff edge which has encouraged the use of an unofficial path which is dangerously close to the cliff edge.

“Extension of the walk to form a loop along the cliff will ensure a safer visitor experience while also protecting the habitat of the special protection area. It is proposed to install a boardwalk at the cliff side of the walking trail which would ensure safe access to users as well as people with mobility issues.

“The funding will be used for installation of a boardwalk, safe cliff viewing areas, repair of the existing road and pathways to include partial replacement of the Liscannor stone wall, stiles, livestock fencing, gravel for paths, and replacement of signage at the Surfers Path walk,” Deputy Carey added.

Welcoming the Clare allocation, Deputy Cathal Crowe said, “Clare is a county with iconic nature and outdoor options on our doorstep. We all know the value of the Cliffs of Moher to our local economy and the pull that has for tourists from around this island but also further afield.

“It’s vital that we protect and maintain them, while acknowledging the tourist footfall that they bring in.

“Since the onset of the Covid pandemic, I think we’ve all gained a newfound love and respect for the great outdoors, whether that be the coast or a forest walk or any of the other amenities dotted across Clare.

“The benefits to spending time outdoors are well documented and this, combined with the tourism and economic impact of having such fantastic amenities locally, means maintenance on these sites is key.

“I’m glad to see the government acknowledge the importance of the outdoors and I look forward to seeing this funding put to good use at some of our best-known places.”

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