The Department Of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs has allocated €200,000 under the Rural Economic Development Zones (REDZ) initiative for the marketing, development and promotion of The Lough Derg Blueway, which includes the soon to be completed Lough Derg Canoe Trail.
Managed by a Steering Committee comprised of Lough Derg Marketing Group, Clare County Council, Tipperary County Council and Waterways Ireland, the project aims to build on the existing tourism and recreational infrastructure as well as improve economic activity surrounding the Blueway on Lough Derg by working with communities in the towns and villages in its hinterland.
Cllr. Siobhan Ambrose, Cathaoirleach, Tipperary County Council welcomed the announcement of funding for the Lough Derg project stating, “The Lough Derg Lakelands is an excellent hub for activities both on and off the water attracting increasing numbers of domestic and international tourists annually. The REDZ funding will allow us to invest in marketing and promoting Lough Derg as a world class destination offering a memorable visitor experience and the capacity to engage with the communities around Lough Derg during the process.”
Welcoming the funding allocation, Joe MacGrath, Chairperson of the Lough Derg Marketing Group and Chief Executive of Tipperary County Council, explained that the REDZ initiative is about community participation, boosting employment, tackling rural isolation and helping communities to identify the issues and also the solutions.
“The concept of a REDZ involves supporting communities to avail of opportunities to help themselves and their local areas and it is the essence of what a community led approach to rural development is all about. Clare County Council and its partner agencies looks forward to engaging with the local business, community and voluntary sectors in the Scarriff and Nenagh REDZ areas during the coming months to deliver on the opportunities presented by the Lough Derg Blueway,” he added.
Mr. MacGrath said the project will result in a high quality product that will increase tourism to the local towns and villages located close to the western and eastern shores of Lough Derg.
He continued, “The value of the Blueways lies not only in the recreational opportunities that they offer but also in their potential to stimulate local business and regenerate local areas. We will be engaging with businesses and communities throughout the Scarriff and Nenagh REDZ areas while the Blueway’s network of walking, cycling, heritage, food and canoe trails will be marketed and promoted as a signature experience on Lough Derg. It is intended that the initiative will deliver one of the key objectives of the ‘Roadmap for Experience Development and Destination Marketing 2014-2017’ for Lough Derg.”
Meanwhile, the proposed Lough Derg Canoe Trail, which is scheduled for completion by January 2017, will see canoe facilities and service blocks installed in Killaloe, Ballycuggeran, and Scarriff, Mountshannon and Dromaan harbours. The Trail project is an initiative of the Lough Derg Marketing Group and is being funded under the Lough Derg Stimulus Fund. Waterways Ireland is leading the design and development of the project in partnership with Clare County Council, Galway County Council and Tipperary County Council.