Leitrim Development Company were awarded Heritage Council Funding under the Upland Study Visit Grant Scheme 2018. The Study Visit took place in Ballyhoura on 25th and 26th October 2018. All twelve participants were from County Leitrim and included farmers, recreational / tourism providers and community representatives. Overall this study visit focused on community engagement and involvement in the development of upland walks and recreational activities. It focused on key elements relating to trail development including maintenance, repairs, access agreements, insurance and best practice in collaborating with local landowners. The economic benefits of uplands walks to locals were highlighted through local enterprises in the area.
Participants visited Ireland’s largest mountain bike network in Ballyhoura with 98km of trails. The Park is owned by Coillte and funding was secured through Coillte, Limerick County Council, Cork County Council, LEADER and the JP McManus Fund. Plans are underway to further develop the Park with a playground and pump track for bicycles. Trailriders Bike Rental/Shop is based at the trailhead in Ardpatrick, Co. Limerick.
The group also visited a number of upland trails in the area and enjoyed their visit to Stephen Ryan’s farm at King’s Yard, Kilbeheny. Located in a valley on the side of the Galtee Mountains, Stephen’s farm is the trail head for the Galtee walk. Stephen has diversified his farm to offer a small café, camping, shower facilities along with parking. This project was of benefit to all participants as they networked and explored the approach used to develop upland walks. They learned about the importance of landowner and community engagement and collaboration in the development of walks. They saw first-hand the benefits of recreation to a rural area and various elements that are transferable to County Leitrim. They noted that connectivity between communities and community spirit is vital in terms of the local community taking ownership of recreational projects.
Leitrim Development Company would like to acknowledge the funding received from the Heritage Council under the Upland Study Visit Grant Scheme 2018 as well as the great welcome and hospitality they received from all at Ballyhoura Environment & Heritage, Ballyhoura Development and all of the businesses visited as part of the Study Trip.