The floating boardwalk at Acres Lake, Drumshanbo
Over a million euro is being sought from a number of agencies to make the “Dream Project” come true for Leitrim Tourism.
Having a Blueway and Greenway from Carrick-on-Shannon to Drumshanbo would enhance visitor numbers by giving tourists an “end to end quality product” according to Leitrim Tourism Recreation Forum.
The dream is not that far from reality and the forum is keeping the end goal in focus and applying pressure and enthusiasm where it is needed.
The plan is to have a connected water and land based track from Carrick-on-Shannon through Leitrim Village to Lough Allen in Drumshanbo, giving visitors the option of services on either end with links to other greenways, walks and activities along the route.
The €500,000 boardwalk at Acres Lake, Drumshanbo is part of this overall project, it is due to be open to the public in September.
Funding and plans will then be developed to link the lake to Drumshanbo and the town to Acres Lake without using the main roadway.
The section from Drumleague to Drumhaver is complete thanks to REDZ funding and the route from Battlebridge to Drumleage Greenway has been completed.
An application by Leitrim County Council for funding up to one million euro seeks to have a connecting walkway/cycleway from Carrick-on-Shannon to Leitrim Village.
Each county in Ireland can only make one application to this Recreation Fund and the forum are delighted Leitrim County Council have used the application for this special project.
Additionally a funding application has been made to Leitrim County Council under Town and Village Renewal for the Leitrim Village to Kilclare Blueway. The local community group in Leitrim Village have also applied for LEADER Funding for connectivity into Leitrim Village from the Canal.
The future plan is to connect Kilclare to Ballinamore and eventually join up with the Cavan/ Leitrim Greenway from Belturbet, through Ballinamore to Mohill. That proposed Greenway is now heading for planning after a comprehensive design and consultation process. A demo stretch to Corgar lake is due to be completed shortly and the local Ballinamore community recently raised €10,000 at fundraising event.
National funding is being sought for the large scale project from Cavan and Leitrim County Councils.
Padraig White from the Forum said while they are working with a number of projects across the county there is a focus on this project and they welcomed Leitrim County Council's focus with the funding application.
Mr White praised the work of Waterways Ireland and said tourism in South Leitrim needs to focus on the extensive water networks. The Shannon Blueway is “extraordinary” in its length and depth.
Mr White said they have been pushing Fáilte Ireland along with public representatives to market the Lakelands and Waterways separately says he understands this has been included in the Programme for Government.
Waterways Ireland have a variety of new entry points along the Shannon Blueway which allow those on canoes/ kayaks to enter the canal without going through the locks.
The Blueway also have craft and food trails on the Waterways Ireland website that include local activities, facilities and businesses so tourists can plan their visit ahead of time.