Three Mayo projects are set to see an investment of €6,481,502 between them under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund - following an announcement made this week by Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring.
The three projects are Ballintubber Abbey Culture and Heritage Visitor Centre, Áras Scéalta an Atlantaigh - Visitor Centre and Tourism Hub in Eachléim - and the Clew Bay Greenway Project.
Ballintubber Abbey Culture and Heritage Visitor Centre will receive €2,677,352 for 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 will be a flagship cultural and heritage visitor attraction, showcasing Tóchar Phádraig, one of the ancient pilgrim routes being developed as part of the Irish Camino proposal. This project is being led by Mayo County Council.
The Áras Scéalta an Atlantaigh - Visitor Centre and Tourism Hub in Eachléim will receive €1,879,350 for the development of a major tourism hub in Eachléim on the Erris Peninsula in the North Mayo Gaeltacht, with a view to generating economic and tourism development in the area. 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, and provide tourism incubation space and support the development of craft enterprises - the lead applicant in this project is Udaras na Gaeltachta.
Clew Bay Greenway Project will receive €1,924,800 for a 5km extension of the Great Western Greenway between Belclare and Murrisk, and other infrastructure along the full extent of the Clew Bay route and will provide safe routes from the greenway to nearby points of interest. This will help increase visitor numbers to the area and enhance the experience of visitors and local users along the route. The lead applicant on this project is Mayo County Council.
Minister Ring said: "I am delighted to announce this significant funding for these three projects. Each project has wonderful potential and I have no doubt that when brought to fruition they will bring great benefits to the local communities. This brings to over €11.5 million the investment in rural Mayo communities in the last year through the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund.
"I am proud to have overseen the creation of the €1 billion Rural Regeneration Fund and am hugely excited at how it will help unlock the potential of our local communities in Mayo and further afield. This level of funding for rural communities is quite simply unprecedented and I have no doubt that the projects delivered through the fund will enable rural communities throughout Ireland to grow and prosper.
“I believe that it is vital that we continue to build resilience in our rural communities in Mayo and make them vibrant places for families to live. The projects that this Fund supports are targeting areas where they can have the greatest economic and social impact and will help support communities in facing the uncertainty still posed by Brexit.”
Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, Cllr Brendan Mulroy said: "I wholeheartedly welcome the funding announcement, for three projects which will have a significant impact on tourism in this county. Tourism is a vital component to the economy of this county and any additional investment in new and existing infrastructure will ensure increased visitor numbers which in turn leads to more employment in the Tourism Sector."
Chief executive of Mayo County Council, Peter Hynes, stated: "The announcement of a €6.5 million investment in three tourism attractions in Mayo is most welcome and it will greatly enhance the overall tourism offering in the county. The funding will enable the development of these attractions as nationally important visitor destinations in the Wild Atlantic region by focusing on their uniqueness and nationally important stories. Ballintubber’s cultural and spiritual richness and its early Christian and pre-Christian links; The greenway and its ongoing development along the Clew Bay coastline as a world class activity offering and the inclusion of the Blacksod Lighthouse as a Great Lighthouse of Ireland. All three attractions exemplify the quintessential appeal of Ireland as a visitor destination.”