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Tourism trio gets major investment

Comment & Opinion

FUNDING INJECTION Last week’s announcement will see €2.6 million spent on the restoration and reconstruction of the east wing of Ballintubber Abbey for a cultural and heritage centre.

Villages of Eachléim, Ballintubber and Murrisk to benefit

THE regeneration of rural Ireland remains one of the biggest challenges facing the Government. Improving the standard of living in our smaller towns and villages is sure to be a key topic on the doorsteps ahead of next year’s anticipated general election.
Last week, Minister for Community and Rural Affairs Michael Ring announced €62 million in Government funding for 26 Rural Regeneration and Development projects across the country. Three of those are located in Mayo, and each has great potential to help sustain and grow employment and investment in their areas.
A total of €6,481,502 has been allocated to the three Mayo initiatives.
The first of these projects is located in Eachléim and will see the development of a major tourism hub in the north Mayo village on the Erris Peninsula and in the north Mayo Gaeltacht, with a view to generating economic and tourism development in the area.
It is hoped the hub will act as an orientation point for visitors to learn about the cultural and natural heritage attractions in the area, including Blacksod Lighthouse, provide a tourism incubation space and support the development of craft enterprises.
There is no doubt that the Erris Peninsula could become a jewel in the Mayo tourism crown, and this visitor centre will be crucial in getting the word out there and making sure that the thousands of visitors who come to Mayo make the journey to the north of the county. Údaras na Gaeltachta is the lead applicant for this project, and just short of €1.9 million has been allocated.
Ballintubber Abbey is widely known as the abbey ‘that refused to die’. Thanks to the recent 800th anniversary celebrations, many tourists now have the historical site earmarked as a place to visit. However, there has long been a need for significant investment in a centre on the site of the abbey to tell the amazing history of the area, and last week’s announcement will now hopefully make that a reality.
Mayo County Council is the lead applicant of this project, which will see over €2.6 million spent on the restoration and reconstruction of the east wing of Ballintubber Abbey, to house a cultural and heritage centre which will tell the story of the abbey and monastic life in Ireland. This is set to be a flagship cultural and heritage visitor attraction, which showcases Tóchar Phádraig, one of the ancient pilgrim routes being developed as part of the Irish Camino proposal.
We in this newspaper have long hailed what we feel is the huge potential in the west Mayo area in particular for pilgrimage tourism, and the centre could operate as a starting point for the many thousands who undertake the ancient Tóchar Phádraig walk from Ballintubber to Croagh Patrick every year.
One of the great tourism successes of recent years has been the concept of the greenway, and these walking and cycle tracks continue to pop up now with regularity across the country.
Mayo indeed led the way with the opening of the Great Western Greenway, and last week’s announcement will see just over €1.9 million invested in a 5km extension of that greenway between Belclare and Murrisk, and other infrastructure along the full extent of the Clew Bay route will provide safe routes from the greenway to nearby points of interest. It is hoped that this will help increase visitor numbers to the area and enhance the experience of visitors and local users along the route.
Huge numbers now climb Croagh Patrick on a weekly basis, and news of this investment continues the good news for residents of Murrisk, who are hoping their water supply issues are finally coming to an end and that work on the path on Croagh Patrick will also commence shorty.
Chief Executive of Mayo County Council Peter Hynes correctly stated last week that all three of the attractions exemplify the quintessential appeal of Mayo and Ireland as a visitor destination. Locals living in Eáchleim, Ballintubber and Murrisk will undoubtedly be excited by the potential that these projects offer for their localities.
It really is vital that rural Ireland makes the most of what it has on its own doorstep, and continued investment like this will ultimately mean that more people will be able to live and work rurally.