Key tourism projects targeted by €2.3 million fund

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Muscians play Dord Iseal bronze horns to mark the Summer Solstice at Lough Gur where there are plans to develop a Solstice Park. Photo: Keith Wiseman

AN EXTENSION of the UL greenway; a regional athletics hub in Newcastle West and a solstice park at Lough Gur area among the key projects that will be targeted by a €2.3 million rural development allocation from Limerick City and County Council.

And, according to the council, the fund has the potential to leverage an additional €15 million for the projects.

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Along with LEADER funding of €9.3 million, Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP) of €3.8 million, Hinterland funding of €3 million and other funding schemes, a total of around €40 million is due to invested into rural parts of County Limerick over the new few years.

The €2.3 million Rural Development Fund allows Limerick City and County Council to develop a more coordinated and strategic approach to supporting rural communities in key strategic projects, town and village renewal, dereliction and rural tourism in co-operation with Ballyhoura Development and West Limerick Resources.

The €2.3 million Rural Development Fund has been agreed by the councillors as part of the annual budget process over the past number of years, with around €500,000 allocated to Ballyhoura Development and West Limerick Resources as a contribution towards their work.

Among the projects being funded include:

Extension of the Greenway from UL to Montpelier. Funding is provided to commence the process of extending the greenway from UL to Montpelier via Castleconnell. The proposed route will go through the village of Castleconnell, which will result in economic regeneration for the village, while it also lends itself to the possibility of working with Waterways Ireland in strategic locations along the route to create a blueway amenity.

Newcastle West Regional Athletics Hub: A 9.44 acre site was purchased at Cloonyscrehane, Newcastle West on the Dromcollogher road and it was proposed that the Newcastle West Regional Athletics Hub should strive to the Gold standard on a phased basis. This will allow for the facility to get up and running in the short term and move on to catering for the county, provincial and national events over the long term.

Incorporating the Barnagh Tunnel into the Great Southern Greenway Limerick: The project involves the installation of an underpass under the N21 to allow the Barnagh viewing area link up with the GSGL through the Barnagh Tunnel. This will increase the safety of those using the GSGL who cross the N21 to the Barnagh viewing/ picnic area and tunnel.

Bourchier’s Castle: Bourchier’s Castle is a key structure in the potential visitor experience at Lough Gur. The castle is the most iconic building at the east shore of the lake. While access is currently restricted, limited works have been on-going over the years. Maintenance works need to be carried out on the castle and an associated building. The overall aim is for Bourchier’s Castle to become the flagship building in the Lough Gur complex.

Stone Mansion Interpretative Centre, Kilmallock: The project involves the conversion of the stables, courtyard and the central Victorian building at the rear of the 16th century Stone Mansion to create a tourism hub, interpretative centre, café, retail outlet, exhibition area and multi-purpose space and to develop the adjoining plot to provide an on-street entrance and open air seating space with a medieval garden and outdoor activities for the interpretative centre including access to the medieval town wall to the rear.

Lough Gur Solstice Park: The “Solstice Park” adjacent to the Lough Gur Heritage Centre, would offer a dual purpose space as an environmentally sensitive children’s playground and as an area dedicated to rest and relaxation. The proposed “Solstice Park” would also offer an ideal respite area for visitors with special needs. Plans include a lake view bandstand and astronomically related play facilities that would provide an insight into the phenomena that occur on the Summer and Winter Solstices.

The fund also makes a contribution towards ongoing town renewal scheme in Patrickswell and a regeneration project in Askeaton.

by Tom McCullough
[email protected]