ACHILL received a welcome New Year’s present when over €200,000 in grants was approved for the community including €96,000 for the Achill Sound to Saula Greenway.
The allocation of grants included a total of €196,000 in grants from the €2.2 million Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme going to Co Mayo which was announced yesterday (Monday) by Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring.
The Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme is part of the Government’s Action Plan for Rural Development and provides funding for the development of new outdoor recreational infrastructure such as trails, cycleways and blueways, as well as the maintenance, enhancement and promotion of existing infrastructure.
As well as providing €96,000 towards the extension of the Greenway onto Achill Island, Minister Ring also approved funding of €110,000 going towards the Bowers Walk in Ballinrobe.
Since his appointment as the Minister for Rural and Community Development in June, Minister Ring has now approved over €8 million in funding for projects and schemes in Mayo through 17 different Departmental schemes.
The investment in the Achill Greenway comes just a few weeks after funding was allocated to surface the final stretch of the greenway into the village of Polranny at the entrance to the island.
Minister Ring said he was delighted to be able to approve the funding for the various projects which he said will be a boost to tourism in the county.
“I am delighted to make this funding available for this excellent initiative. €96,000 has been allocated for the construction of a greenway from Achill Sound to Saula. This is an extremely important piece of infrastructure. It follows on from significant investment by my Department in improving tourist infrastructure in Achill, including our investment in the Achill Experience.
“Our ongoing investment in Achill will attract more visitors and help ensure that more people in Achill will have the opportunity to gain employment and have a decent livelihood in their own community. It also means that more people will get to experience this magical part of the world,” he said.
Last year, Minister Ring approved a total of €1,243,000 for 15 Mayo projects under the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme and he said he looked ‘forward to further investment in Mayo and across the country through the scheme this year’.
Minister Ring also announced that he has approved an allocation of €89,000 from the Leader programme to support the development of phase two of the Achill Experience tourism initiative.
The Achill Experience is the island’s first all-weather visitor centre and encapsulates many aspects of island life both present and past. It also includes Mayo’s first aquarium which made headlines last year when it housed three very rare lobsters which were discovered off the Mayo coast.
The new funding will go towards a new 80 square metre extension to the front of the building which will house a new reception area and retail operation, exhibits and animation on Achill’s cultural and maritime history and a seating area.
“This will be very welcome news for the local community in Achill. The approval of this project means that over 550 Leader projects have been approved across the country for funding of €14.6 million. The Leader programme is well and truly up and running, and I expect that it will grow rapidly in 2018,” he said.