A Service Level Agreement (SLA) has today been signed between Cavan County Council and Waterways Ireland for the development of the Ballyconnell to Bellaheady Recreational Trail.
Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, TD, was present at Ballyconnell National School, along with Cathaoirleach of Cavan County Council, Councillor Paddy McDonald, Cavan County Council Director of Service, Eoin Doyle, and Joe Gillespie, Waterways Ireland, Northern Regional Manager, for the signing of the SLA, and hailed the potential of this ‘world class’ tourism development.
“I am delighted to be invited to the signing of this Service Level Agreement, which marks the start of a project which will develop a world class recreational trail that will allow County Cavan tap into the growing tourism market for walking, cycling and outdoor activities,” said Minister Humphreys.
“The trail will create a significant tourist attraction and amenity that will assist in regional and local employment and economic and social development,” she added.
The project, when complete, will provide a 5.5km recreational trail suitable for walking and cycling from Ballyconnell to Bellaheady Bridge along the Woodford River. It is a significant capital project which will cost approximately€750,000; with the Department of Community and Rural Development providing 80% of the funding, while Waterways Ireland and Cavan County Council provide the match funding. The funding provided is under the Department of Community and Rural Development’s 2017 Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme.
The Outdoor Recreation Scheme is part of the Government’s Action Plan for Rural Development and is designed to maintain and improve our outdoor recreational infrastructure including for example our greenways, Blueways and walking trails.
Speaking at the SLA signing, Cathaoirleach of Cavan County Council, Cllr Paddy McDonald said the trail would provide a great addition to the county’s tourism offering.
“This trail will further encourage people to get out and enjoy this wonderful part of the county in our wonderful Geopark, while simultaneously encouraging healthy activity. This will improve the day to day lives of many people as well as providing a welcome boost to the local economy.”
Director of Services at Cavan County Council, Eoin Doyle said getting to this stage was the culmination of a great deal of work by several stakeholders.
“I look forward to a fruitful working relationship with Waterways Ireland on this most worthwhile project, and want to commend both their staff and our own staff in Cavan County Council for helping get the project to this stage. I would also like to acknowledge the support of the elected members of Cavan County Council for improving the tourism infrastructure in the county, and the vital input of the local people in this Geopark community,” said Mr Doyle.
Construction on the 5.5km trail is expected to reach completion by September 2018.
Joe Gillespie, Waterways Ireland Northern Regional Manager confirmed “ the development of the Ballyconnell to Bellaheady Recreational Trail is an excellent opportunity for us to work in partnership with Cavan County Council to fulfilour mandate to extend recreational provision. The project will also enable us to work with tourism providers to encourage high quality tourism packages and extend the Shannon-Erne Blueway trail. We would like to also acknowledge the support of the the Department of Community and Rural Development and Minister Humpreys for her ongoing support of our waterways.”