16/07/2012 Minister Deenihan Announces Plans for Iconic Killarney Walking Trail
Jimmy Deenihan, T.D., Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has announced that he has convened a dedicated Steering Group to oversee plans for the development of a new walking trail for Kerry – the Lough Leane Trail – which will start and end in Killarney town taking in two of Killarney’s famous lakes, Lough Leane and Muckross Lake. The new looped walking trail will be approximately 28km with the majority of the trail traversing Killarney National Park. Sections of the trail adjacent to Killarney town will also be a multi-use trail suitable for both walkers and cyclists.
The steering group, comprising the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Kerry County Council, Fáilte Ireland, and local community representatives, were called together for the first time by Minister Deenihan in Killarney on Friday 13th July. The group has been charged with the development and roll out of the project, and will oversee the detailed design and planning of the Lough Leane trail ensuring that local knowledge of the area is incorporated in to the development process. To this end, the group will be chaired by local businessman and member of Fáilte Kerry, Mike Buckley.
The Minister said that “as Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, it is my intention to facilitate, to the greatest extent possible, public access to, and appropriate visitor use of our National Parks and Nature Reserves. As a keen walker myself and an even keener advocate of healthy outdoor pursuits, I have long believed that we need to develop their full potential for the purposes of outdoor recreation and tourism growth”. He added that “the National Parks and Wildlife section of my Department has been doing great work on this and I have every confidence in NPWS working together with the other parties to deliver on this new trail”.
Funding has been secured from Fáilte Ireland for the detailed design and planning of the trail in accordance with best practice to ensure that a high quality low impact trail that meets the needs of the visitors is delivered- the ‘right trail in the right place for the right person’.
Speaking at the first Steering Group meeting, chairman Mike Buckley also a member of Fáilte Kerry, emphasised that the project had the potential to become one of Ireland’s most iconic walking attractions. “This is a very exciting time for Kerry. Research indicates continued growth internationally in activity and walking holidays. Walking holiday destinations such as the Lake District in Britain attract millions of holiday visits every year. There has been a huge investment in walks throughout Kerry over recent years and lots of great work undertaken by various agencies, local landowners and voluntary groups. This new walk around Lough Leane will be world class and will give us something which we can promote strongly to visitors overseas; there is no doubt that Kerry will reap the benefit.”
A responsible and considered planning approach in consultation with local landowners is being taken to this project due to the scale of the project and the sensitive nature of the National Park.