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Ballycroy National Park to benefit from new funding strategy


NATIONAL TREASURERSPictured at Ballycroy National Park at the announcement of funding for the country’s National Parks were, from left: Orla Carroll, Fáilte Ireland; An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny; Minister for of State Regional Development, Michael Ring, TD and Minister of Statefor Tourism and Sport, Patrick O’Donovan, TD.  Pic: Michael Mc Laughlin

Áine Ryan

BALLYCROY National Park was the venue over the weekend for the launch of a new Government strategic partnership with the National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS), which will provide initial funding of €500,000 in a bid to increase tourism revenues in the rural areas where the parks are located. The funding is for the five National Parks and five Nature Reserves along the Wild Atlantic Way as well as Wicklow National Park, located in the recently branded Ancient East.
Officiating, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said: “This new strategic partnership between Fáilte Ireland and the National Parks and Wildlife Service is an excellent example of State agencies proactively working together to advance a shared objective to benefit local communities. Tourism offers real opportunities for rural areas and this investment of €500,000 comes just days after the launch of ‘Realising our Rural Potential – the Action Plan for Rural Development’.
Mr Kenny explained that maximising rural Ireland’s tourism and recreational potential was one of the key pillars of the overall plan, announced by him in Longford last week.   
“Five of our six National Parks run along the Wild Atlantic Way and Wicklow National Park forms part of Ireland’s Ancient East.  The funding will undoubtedly allow for the design of excellent tourism projects building on the strengths of each location, as well as further promoting our National Parks and Nature Reserves for visitors and tourists,” he said.
Speaking, also, Minister for State for Regional Economic Development, Michael Ring said the country’s ‘national parks form an integral part of our national tourism product, and can play a key role in regional development’ and in a strategy to ‘demonstrate the beautiful variety of Ireland’s natural heritage’.
 “While the last few years have been difficult in relation to exchequer funding, I am delighted that we are now in a position to invest further in our natural heritage. This funding reflects the commitment in my department’s Action Plan for Rural Development to enhance supports for rural Ireland. It is my intention to continue to invest in our National Parks and Nature Reserves to ensure they remain a vital tourist resource which underpin the economy, both nationally and regionally.
“This partnership proves the Government’s ongoing commitment to the preservation of our natural heritage for future generations of citizens and visitors alike. It is a culmination of constructive engagements between my Department and Fáilte Ireland and addresses a long-standing strategy to foster our natural heritage.”
Meanwhile, Fáilte Ireland’s Director of Strategic Development, Orla Carroll said: “We know from our own research that more and more visitors want to experience the Irish landscape up-close and personal.  Our national parks can do just that – by unlocking this potential we can give our visitors a real opportunity to get back to nature and get in touch with Ireland.” 
Nature-based tourism has been significantly increasing, according to Fáilte Ireland.

Did you know?

Killarney National Park was established as far back as 1932. Glenveagh National Park was established in 1984; Connemara National Park in 1990; Ballycroy National Park in 1998.