Three Mayo projects are to share €540k in funding announced for the county this week under the newly published National Outdoor Recreation Strategy.
The strategy - called Embracing Ireland's Outdoors and the first of its kind for the country - was developed by the Government in partnership with Comhairle na Tuaithe and will see a major investment in outdoor recreation facilities with a focus on hiking, cycling, wild swimming, kayaking, and other outdoor recreational activities.
In Mayo, facilities at Downpatrick Head, Benwee Head, and Old Head Beach. Louisbugh, will each receive €180,000 for improvements and upgrades.
The five year strategy was launched by Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys, this week.
“Embracing Ireland’s Outdoors was developed in partnership with Comhairle na Tuaithe and is a collaborative cross-Government strategy that reflects the views of stakeholders and the public," said Mayo TD Alan Dillon, who welcomed the funding this week. "The new strategy will set the stage to strengthen and support the sustainable development of the outdoor recreation sector in Ireland for years to come bringing huge economic and health benefits to communities across the country.
Spending time outdoors supports our mental and physical health and it improves our quality of life," he added. "There also huge economic benefits, particularly for rural communities.”
Deputy Michael Ring also welcomed the funding, saying: “We have tremendous amenities surrounding us such as forest parks, mountain trails, rivers, greenways, and beaches. This strategy has been devised to develop Ireland’s outdoor recreation sector so we can deliver maximum benefits to communities across the country.
“Outdoor amenities have huge benefits both for people’s health and wellbeing and economic benefits. Through this strategy, the Government believe they can make Ireland the destination of choice internationally for outdoor recreation and adventure tourism."
The programme funding will see trailhead upgrades carried out at Old Head Beach. Louisbugh; trailhead improvements at Downpatrick Head; and at an upgrade to the Carrowteige Coastal Loop Walks at Kilgalligan, Carrowteige.
The new strategy will also see outdoor recreation committees established in every county to ensure there is a focused and strategic approach to the development of local amenities.
“The pandemic awakened a new discovery to explore amongst the Irish public," Minister Humphreys said at the launch of the strategy on Monday. "When we were confined to our counties or we could only meet friends and family outdoors, we gained a new found appreciation for the unique amenities we have on our doorstep, whether it’s our forest parks, our mountain trails, our rivers, our greenways or our stunning beaches.
“Significant stakeholder and public engagement has been at the core of the development of this strategy," the Minister added. "I would like to thank the members of Comhairle na Tuaithe for their tireless work in developing the strategy. Thanks to the high level of stakeholder and public engagement Embracing Ireland’s Outdoors is a truly collaborative strategy that will set the stage to strengthen and support the sustainable development of the outdoor recreation sector in Ireland for years to come."