All of the projects opened, as part of the Minister’s visit, received investment under the Government’s ambitious rural development policy, Our Rural Future.
The Minister’s visit began with the opening of the Edenderry Regeneration Project which received an investment of over €522,000 under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund.
This project delivers phase one of the Edenderry Regeneration Strategy, which will help unlock a large development site in the centre of the town and provide improved access.
Speaking in Edenderry the Minister said, “I know that this particular project is huge for the people of Edenderry – delivering a link road from Granary Court to Fairgreen and unlocking what was once a large derelict section of the town. It also involves providing an alternative route away from the town centre, as well as footways, cycleways, and broadband infrastructure. This project is about revitalising this great town – making it a more attractive place to live, work, run a business and raise a family. Edenderry is a perfect example of how the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund is having a major impact on rural Ireland.”
The Minister then travelled to Derryounce Lakes and Trails.
Over €152,000 was provided to carry out a number of enhancements at this lakeside project under the Department’s Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme.
A further €50,000 allocated under the Project Development Measure of this scheme, which will be used to create a ten year development plan for Derryounce Lakes and Trails.
Speaking in Portarlington the Minister said, “we really have learned of the benefits of our natural amenities and outdoor spaces during Covid-19. Our lakes, our walkways, our rivers and forests have been a godsend to us all in terms of both our physical and mental wellbeing. And as Minister, I am determined to continue to invest in our outdoor amenities under the likes of Outdoor Recreation and the Town and Village Renewal Scheme in the months to come.”
The Minister then went on to Kinnitty where she officially opened the Kinnitty Trail Head Building and the Slieve Bloom Mountain Biking Trail.
The Kinnitty Trail Head Building is a community led project that involves the refurbishment of Kinnitty Parish Hall into a multipurpose space that can be used by the community and by tourists visiting Kinnitty.
This building will also provide much needed toilet and shower facilities for visiting bikers. It was funded through LEADER and Community Enhancement Fund.
The Slieve Bloom Mountain Biking Trail is part of the International Mountain Biking Project which received an investment of roughly €10.3 million through the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund.
The Trail is the most extensive trail system built to date in Ireland and the UK.
More than 80kms of trail riding will be available to domestic and overseas mountain bikers.
This project also positions Ireland as one of the best international destinations for trail riding.
Speaking in Kinnitty, Minister Humphreys said, “one of my big priorities as Minister for Rural and Community Development is supporting our outdoor, natural amenities. That’s why we have put in unprecedented investment into our trails, cycleways, forests, lakes, and greenways under the likes of the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme. Here in Kinnitty, we now have one leg of the longest Mountain Biking Trail in Ireland. This project has delivered a transformational recreation and tourism amenity. I wish to congratulate Coillte, Offaly and Laois County Council on the completion of the trails here in the beautiful Slieve Bloom Mountains that will bring so many benefits to the communities in the region.”
Speaking about the importance of adventure tourism, the Minister said, “the last two years have shown us how vital our outdoor amenities are for our mental and physical wellbeing. Investing in our natural amenities to benefit the health and wellbeing of our communities and to support the growth in local and international adventure tourism is a key goal of the Government’s rural policy, Our Rural Future.”