Anger over failure to include Leitrim as part of Wild Atlantic Way Region

Leitrim Observer Reporter

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Leitrim Observer Reporter

Huge untapped tourism potential in Tullaghan says local Councillor

Co Leitrim's only coastline at Tullaghan.

North Leitrim County Councillor, Justin Warnock has described the inclusion of North Leitrim in the Ireland's Hidden Heartlands tourism region as "completely wrong" and "baffling".

Earlier today Fáilte Ireland unveiled Ireland's new Regional Experience Brand - Ireland's Hidden Heartlands - an area which a runs from Leitrim's coastline through East Clare, Roscommon, East Galway, as well as parts of Westmeath, Cavan, North Tipperary and Offaly.

The remaining parts of the country have been divided up under three other tourism brands namely Dublin; Ireland's Ancient East and The Wild Atlantic Way Region.

Cllr Warnock said that the decision to not to include any part of Co Leitrim in the Wild Atlantic Way tourism region, despite the fact that the route runs through North Leitrim "just doesn't make any sense".

Speaking to www.leitrimobserver.ie this afternoon, Cllr Warnock said he was "disgusted and angry" that north Leitrim has been "effectively cut off from its natural hinterland, the Wild Atlantic Way".

"When you look at the map of the new tourism areas you see the Wild Atlantic Way running through North Leitrim but insofar as promotion of the area is concerned, we've been lumped in with the midlands," he observed.

"I can't for the life of me understand the thinking behind this. The majority, if not all, of each county the Atlantic Way passes through, is included, in the Wild Atlantic Way Region brand. All counties that is, with the exception of Leitrim.

"Four years ago the Wild Atlantic Way was launched and at that time we had to fight to have Leitrim included on the maps. Now, here we are once again, cut off from the very tourism area we need to promote North Leitrim. It is baffling.

"When you see that all of Donegal and most of Sligo has been included in the Wild Atlantic Way tourism area and North Leitrim hasn't, it just doesn't make any sense. Who made this decision to put Leitrim in the Hidden Heartlands area with the rest of the midlands? The Hidden Heartlands area may have some relevance for south Leitrim because of the Shannon, but it has no relevance all all to North Leitrim."

Cllr Warnock said serious questions needed to be asked about the rationale behind this decision.

"Do Fáilte Ireland think North Leitrim has nothing to offer tourists coming to visit the Wild Atlantic Way? This is crazy. Those of us in the north of the county have been working to ensure that the tourism potential of the area is realised. The only way we can do that is for North Leitrim to be in the Wild Atlantic Way Region. That is where our potential lies. That is where we can grow and develop our services. The Wild Atlantic Way is the only way we will bring tourists to North Leitrim.

"There is nothing, no real link for North Leitrim to be in the Hidden Heartlands area. What possible draw can there be for tourists to move north from Carrick-on-Shannon along the R280 to see all we have to offer. The N15 is the obvious route for tourists to move into North Leitrim and the Wild Atlantic Way Region is the only tourism area North Leitrim should be in."