Mount Melleray as she announces the addition of 31 walking trails to boost outdoor recreation and rural tourism
St Declan’s Way and Anne Valley Walk in Dunhill added to Government’s ‘Walks Scheme’
Waterford to be allocated funding for a Rural Recreation Officer
Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD joined Waterford Fine Gael Senator John Cummins in Mount Melleray, Co Waterford today (Sept 29th) to announce the addition of 31 new walking trails to her Department’s Walks Scheme, including St. Declan’s Way and the Anne Valley Walk. Funding was also announced for a number of new Rural Recreation Officers, including one for Waterford.
The ‘Walk’s Scheme’, which aims to open Irelands countryside to local walkers, hikers and tourists includes funding to farmers and other landowners to maintain the trails that travel through their land holdings. Senator Cummins said “without the cooperation of landowners, the development of trials like St. Declan’s Way and the Anne Valley Walk would not be possible and I would like to compliment the owners for their willingness to engage and cooperate on the development of these trails”.
Stretching over 115km from Ardmore, Co. Waterford to Cashel, Co. Tipperary, St. Declans Way traverses through some of the most beautiful landscape in County Waterford and it is expected to generate significant tourism revenue for communities along its entire length.
Senator Cummins also welcomed additional funding to employ a Rural Recreation Officer in Waterford. He said “One of the eight Rural Recreation Officers will be hired in Waterford and will play a vital role in delivering the Walks Scheme and developing the outdoor recreation sector locally. I think the funding for this officer is a further demonstration of the Governments commitment to tourism and rural Ireland. Our walkways, trails, greenways, blueways and cycleways are a defining feature of Rural Ireland and there is no question they have been a godsend throughout the Covid-19 Pandemic in providing so many of us with the opportunity to get out for some exercise and to meet up with family and friends. Over the past number of months, we have seen unprecedented investment in our outdoor amenities, underpinned by the most ambitious ever policy for Rural Ireland, ‘Our Rural Future’.”
Speaking at the announcement in the historic grounds of Mount Melleray Abbey, Minister Humphries said, “As a Government we are investing in some of the most picturesque locations in the country, so that they can be enjoyed and experienced by millions of people every year. In rolling out the Walks Scheme, my Department works closely with our Local Development Companies, community groups and rural farmers and landowners. We are indebted to our farmers and other landowners such as those here in Waterford and throughout the country that facilitate access to these wonderful trails and who now, through this scheme, are being funded to maintain the walks to the high standard we have all come to expect. Another important part of today’s announcement is the decision to appoint up to 8 new Rural Recreation Officers, as well as improving the salaries of the Rural Recreation Officers that are already carrying out great work across the country. These individuals are crucial in implementing the Walks Scheme and working with all stakeholders to enhance our outdoor amenities.