Ennis, Ireland (PressExposure) June 14, 2013 -- Tourism in the West of Ireland has been given a significant boost with the opening of the 400,000 Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk, a 12km route providing improved public access to some of County Clare's most scenic coastal locations.
Mayor of Clare, Councillor Pat Daly today performed the official opening of the standalone coastal walk which links the villages of Doolin and Liscannor, and also is part of the Burren Way long distance walking route.
Targeted at the more experienced walker, the newly constructed 12km coastal path takes walkers from Hags Head outside Liscannor Village along by the iconic Cliffs Of Moher and into the village of Doolin. Trailheads with mapboards and designated parking for walkers are located at Moher Sports Field outside Liscannor village, Doolin Community centre outside Doolin village, and at the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre.
The Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk Project is a collaborative effort between Clare County Council, Clare Local Development Company, The National Trails Office, Failte Ireland, the local community and almost 40 landowners along the route.
"This is a major tourism project not only for North Clare but for the growing walking tourism market in Ireland. We believe it is one of the most spectacular coastal routes in the country and will attract the type of visitors that will stay for longer in the area. Clare County Council is delighted to have been the lead authority for this project," commented Mayor Daly.
Latest figures from Failte Ireland reveal that more than 775,000 overseas visitors to Ireland go hiking/cross-country walking each year. Around a third of these visitors stated that walking was an important factor in their choice of Ireland as a holiday destination
Mayor Daly added: "This project significantly improves the Burren Way and provides a spectacular linear walking product for visitors to the villages of Lahinch, Doolin, Liscannor, and all villages in the wider Burren region. There is significant potential to develop and expand new and existing local tourism businesses around the walk. I wish to acknowledge the collaborative approach adopted to developing this project by local landowners and the various local, regional and national development agencies."
75% of the funding for the multi-agency initiative is being provided by Failte Ireland, under the National Development Plan 2007 - 2013 with the balance being funded by Clare County Council. Clare Local Development Company secured the involvement of local landowners in the project, with the National Trails Office having provided the necessary technical expertise as well as annual trail inspections and Public Liability Insurance in conjunction with Clare County Council. The successful contractor for the project was County Wexford-based Metro Building Contractors Ltd, while Clare Local Development Company and the Burren Way Ltd. are responsible for the management and maintenance of the newly opened walk.
Fiona Monaghan, Failte Ireland commented: "this project is an excellent example of how partnership approach to development can deliver a key project which will deliver long term economic benefits to the surrounding area. I wish to acknowledge the contributions from all the agencies involved and in particular I want to pay tribute to the support and cooperation from the landowners without whom this initiative could not have been developed. This initiative is regarded as one on the finest walks along the West Coast of Ireland and will be a key element in the development of the 'Wild Atlantic Way' which is a 2,500km iconic tourism route currently being developed by Failte Ireland along the entire Atlantic Coast of Ireland".
Gerard Kennedy Chairman of Burren Way Ltd. stated: "This is something we've been working towards for several years and its tremendous that it has now become a reality. I want to thank the landowners on the route for their co-operation. Also Clare County Council and Failte Ireland for the funding and management of the project and Eimer McCarthy, CLDC's Rural Recreation Officer for her tireless work on the ground. This is a wonderful tourism and recreation resource for North Clare, the benefits of which will be seen for years to come."
According to Eimer McCarthy of Clare Local Development Company (CLDC): "CLDC's Rural Recreation Programme and Walks Maintenance Scheme provide an important link between landowners and the funding agencies necessary to get such a project off the ground. The Walks Scheme also ensures continued communication with landowners, as well as maintenance and upkeep of the trail, and is central to the successful management of this spectacular new coastal walk into the future".
Walkers are advised that the Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk is a challenging, remote and exposed Clifftop trail, which requires high levels of fitness and an ability to adapt to changing and extreme weather conditions. Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk trail maps are available to download for free from http://www.discoverireland.ie and http://www.irishtrails.ie.
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Background To The Clare Coastal Walk Project - In 2007, the potential for the coastal path between Doolin and Liscannor to become an official walking route was highlighted locally to the Burren Connect Project. A working group was set up, with a view to exploring the possibility of securing comprehensive landowner permission for walkers to walk the route. The introduction of the Walks Scheme and a Rural Recreation Officer to Co. Clare in 2008, as well as the provision of Public Liability Insurance by Clare County Council for landowners on the route, it was felt would greatly assist this process. Funding for the significant upgrade works required also had to be secured, and it was decided that National Development Plan funding available to Local Authorities was the most suitable funding option.
Daithi De Forge, technical expert with the National Trails Office carried out an initial inspection of the route in 2009, and deemed it suitable for upgrading. Landowner permission was the most important element of this project, and with 39 private landowners farming the land right out to the cliff edge on a 12.7 km stretch between Doolin and Liscannor, the working group set about discussing the proposal with them. As the existing path was seriously eroded, and missing in places, landowners support in these sections was critical to actually even having a route for the walk. Individual and group meetings were held locally and on site with all landowners during 2009 and 2010. The IFA as well as all members of the working group were present at the group meetings, to address common queries and concerns. In 2010 the 5 year Walks (Maintenance) Scheme was provided by the Rural Recreation Section of the Department of Environment Community and Local Government via Clare Local Development to the 39 landowners on the route. With landowner agreement in place, NDP Funding to upgrade the route was secured by Clare County Council.
Due to the designation of the area as a Special Protection Area, the National Parks and Wildlife Service were involved from the start, and following an Appropriate Assessment in 2009, the proposed upgrade to the path was given the green light. The tender process has been managed by Clare County Council, and Metro Building Contractors Ltd.