‘TREMENDOUS ASSET’ Minister Michael Ring is pictured in Ballycroy National Park with David Strong, Western Regional Manger, Ballycroy National Park and Gerard Murphy MD, Coillte Ireland. Pic: Eamon O’Boyle.
Minister Ring announces major expansion
Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring announced a major expansion for Ballycroy National Park last week.
The national park will now include the area known as Wild Nephin, which means that the total size of the park has now been expanded to over 15,000 hectares.
“This is a tremendous asset to the Mayo area. Now along with the Wild Atlantic Way, the national park in Ballycroy is now equal to those in Wicklow and Killarney,” Minister Ring told The Mayo News on Monday.
“A strategic plan has also been put in place now with Fáilte Ireland. We also plan to complete the Great Western Greenway in the Achill area [as reported in last week’s Mayo News], and we then plan to extend it down through Ballycroy,” he explained.
The new acquisition of land will also be the key link from the Great Western Greenway going north into Bangor Erris and Ballycastle and it will be an important tourist hub and a gateway for cyclists and hikers from the Greenway into north Mayo.
“The transfer of the beautiful Wild Nephin area into Ballycroy National Park will make Ballycroy one of the largest national parks in the country and one of the premier destinations to experience nature in a pristine and wild landscape,” Minister Ring explained.
He also mentioned that one of the major advantages this consolidation of land will be access to the national park, which will now be greatly improved.
The expansion of the park has come about thanks to a long-running collaborative project between Coillte and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
Ballycroy National Park was established in 1998 as Ireland’s sixth national park, and it offers a wide variety of activities and attractions to its visitors.
Its visitor centre boasts a range of facilities, including an interactive exhibition, panoramic views of Ballycroy and Achill, a restaurant (the Ginger and Wild Café), a nature trail with a pond and viewing point, guided walks and a host of special events.
The national park also offers guided walks of the Claggan Mountain Coastal Trail, the Letterkeen Loop and many other trails. The visitor centre is now closed for the winter months, but it will reopen in March.