New Hiking trail from Waterford to Tipperary officially opened
Heather Humphreys, Minister for Rural and Community Development has formally opened the pilgrim walk of St. Declan's Way and St. Declan's hostel in Mount Mellaray this morning.
The 115km walking trail, that has been 10 years in the making involving 45 farmers and landowners, stretches from Ardmore in County Waterford to Cashel in Co. Tipperary.
The 31 new trails across 13 counties, which received funding of €213,000 from the Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD), are to be added to the ‘Walk’s Scheme’, which aims to open up the countryside to local walkers, hikers and tourists.
Under the scheme, funding is provided to farmers and other landowners to maintain the trails that travel through their holdings.
Today’s announcement means there will now be 80 trails under the Scheme, which is operated by the DRCD in conjunction with the Local Development Companies (LDCs) and over 2,400 farmers and landowners in total.
Additional funding will also be provided to the Local Development Companies that deliver the scheme locally, as well as for the salaries paid to the Rural Recreation Officers who play a vital role in delivering the Walks Scheme and developing the outdoor recreation sector locally.
Thank you to Minister for Rural and Community Development @HHumphreysFG who was in attendance to open St Declan’s Way & St Declans Hostel in Mount Melleray this morning! @DeptRCD #Deise pic.twitter.com/CKbjPAUVrd— Mary Butler TD (@MaryButlerTD) September 29, 2021
Minister Humphreys also today announced the creation of up to 8 new Rural Recreation Officer posts in addition to the 13 already in place. These are designed to further enhance our outdoor amenities and the experience of visitors to Rural Ireland.
The announcement delivers on commitments in both the Programme for Government and Our Rural Future to increase the number of trails under the ‘Walks Scheme’ in order to boost outdoor recreation and tourism in rural towns and villages.
The Minister said walkways, trails, greenways, blueways and cycleways were a defining feature of Rural Ireland:
“They have been a godsend throughout the Covid-19 Pandemic – 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’.
“Today’s announcement is further action behind that policy. By adding 31 new trails to the Walks Scheme, we are opening up our rural countryside further to walkers, hikers, adventurists, cyclists, as well as domestic and international tourists.
“And it means 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.”
The new St Declan's Hostel was also launched this morning. Mount Melleray is Ireland's oldest living monastery, Abbot Richard Purcell said monasteries were always important for those on a journey offering rest and a bed along the way:
"(St Declan's Way) was one of Ireland's most famous and important pilgrim paths. Many of those who will walk this path today may be considered modern pilgrims walking not because they need to get from one location to another, but because they want to go on a journey, and so it's significant this path should pass through Mount Mellary Abbey."
Abbot Purcell said the new St Declan's Hostel would offer simple overnight accommodation for those walking St Delcan's way.
The building housing the hostel was original an alms house to provide assistance to those seeking help and the monks of the Abbey see the hostel as another aspect of their outreach and hospitality.
Cllr Seanie Power, Deputy Mayor of Waterford, welcomed the opening of the trail and the hostel saying it would provide significant gain not just in economic terms, but to the wider community.
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