The Lough Derg Blueway was officially launched on Tuesday 6th March 2018 a special ceremony in Killaloe in the presence of providers of commercial and recreation service providers around Lough Derg.
The launch of the initiative is the culmination of a successful partnership between Clare, Tipperary and Galway County Councils, the Lough Derg Marketing Group and Waterways Ireland, and is supported by the Lough Derg communities and businesses who have embraced the project from its inception.
A Blueway is a multi-activity recreational trail on or alongside idyllic lakes, canals and rivers with easy access to canoe and bike hire, maps and trail information. With easy access and many starting and finishing points, these trails are family and group friendly whether it’s for a weekend away or a daily walk. Packages and activities can be found on www.BluewaysIreland.org.
The Lough Derg Blueway builds on the untapped potential of the existing waterway infrastructure and is enhanced by attractive rural towns and villages of Portumna, Dromineer, Killaloe/Ballina, Scarriff, and Mountshannon. With 21 individual paddling trails, Lough Derg as the largest lake on the River Shannon offers its own unique Blueway experience. The Lough shore provides achievable paddling, walking and cycling trails including heritage trails with over 90 heritage sites and access to the long distance routes of the East Clare Way and Lough Derg Way.
Waterways Ireland’s Chief Executive, Dawn Livingstone said, “The partnership between Clare, Galway and Tipperary County Councils and the Lough Derg Marketing Group has delivered the Lough Derg Blueway to this point. It is the local community groups, individuals and businesses who have come together to provide activity and who will continue to enthusiastically market and promote the Blueway who will ensure it thrives, growing recreation and tourism participation and creating jobs.
In his welcoming address Cllr. Tom McNamara, Mayor of Clare, said, “This fantastic project presents valuable opportunities for communities around Lough Derg to attract more visitors. Instead of everyone pulling in their own direction, the Blueway sees those involved in the promotion of Lough Derg rowing together – in more ways than one. I am certain that we will not have to wait long to see evidence of the economic benefits that will accrue for tourist operators in this region.”
Pat Dowling, Chief Executive of Clare County Council, stated, “Tourists do not distinguish between county boundaries so there is no reason for local tourism operators to do so. The Lough Derg Blueway sees tourism providers in this region point the signposts towards each other. The true value of the Blueway lies not only in the recreational opportunities that it offers but also in its potential to stimulate local business and regenerate local areas.”
“I particularly want to acknowledge the Department Of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs which last year allocated €200,000 under the Rural Economic Development Zones (REDZ) initiative for the marketing, promotion and sustainable development of the Blueway,” he added.
Cllr. Phyll Bugler, Cathaoirleach of Tipperary County Council, has encouraged the businesses around Lough Derg with a vested interest in tourism to capitalise on this opportunity to promote and package the Blueway.
She continued, “The potential to create employment as a result of new businesses emerging around the Blueway is vital to the sustainability of the rural towns and communities surrounding Lough Derg. The Lough Derg Marketing Group will continue to support the Lough Derg Blueway in the coming months and years, helping it to grow into an established national and international tourism offering.”
Joe MacGrath, Chief Executive with Tipperary County Council and Chair of the Lough Derg Marketing Group, said, “Through collaboration, cooperation and ambition between agencies and the tourism trade around Lough Derg we now have an excellent tourism product to attract more domestic and international visitors to the region with the launch of the Lough Derg Blueway.”
Speaking at the launch Cllr. Eileen Mannion, Cathaoirleach of Galway County Council, said, “Increasingly, we are seeing the desire and demand for more activity based holidays. The Blueway Experience provides a packaged product, which will be attractive for tourists and makes the decision to go to the lesser known tourism locations an easier one.”
Kevin Kelly, Chief Executive Galway County Council, stated, “Local Authorities are committed to developing the Tourism Product, which needs to be increasingly sophisticated to attract attention, in an increasingly competitive marketplace. The Development of the Lough Derg Blueway Experience is an excellent example of how Local Authorities can come together with other agencies, to support the tourism sector in promoting their product and the Blueway Brand.”