One of the biggest tourism development plans for the Shannon River area was launched yesterday.
The €76.5m Shannon Tourism Masterplan will be a ‘lifeline to survival for local communities’ according to the Manager of Boyle’s Lough Key Forest and Activity Park – Louise Fitzpatrick who was interviewed during the launch along with Eileen and Seamus Gibbons from Electric Bike Trails.
Louise also had the last word in the launch video saying “The jigsaw has now come together”.
The Masterplan is a collaborative project led by Waterways Ireland with Fáilte Ireland and 10 Local Authorities along the River Shannon and Shannon-Erne Waterway including Roscommon Co Co.
Boyle features strongly in the 145 page plan which details a total transformation of the tourism offering and product for the town and region over the next ten years.
One of the main items that Waterways Ireland are currently ‘looking at’ is the implementation of the ‘Lough Key Masterplan’ – a multi million euro plan for the future development of Lough Key Forest Park.
This plan is currently being worked on by a number of organisations locally and nationally and envisages the further development of the Park to include strengthening links between the Park and the town of Boyle.
Some other items referencing Boyle in the Shannon Tourism Masterplan include:
- Rejuvenate the Boyle Canal
- Strengthening Boyle town as a key service hub
- Support proposals to enhance the family friendly Lough Key experience
- Develop a ‘Shannon Discovery Bus’ from Limerick to Boyle
- Plans to increase recreational connectivity from Lough Key to Boyle town
- Further development of the Lough Key to Boyle cycleway with an ultimate link to Carrick on Shannon
- Develop links to Boyle Arts Festival
- Green/Blueway linkage form Lough Key to Shannon via Knockvicar
- Host international and inter lake angling competitions in Lough Key
- Enhanced Blueway linkages to/from Boyle under provision of Boyle 2040 plan
A section in the plan titled ‘Development Opportunities in relation to the Shannon Towns’ says:
“Boyle is the principal town of North County Roscommon and has suffered economic decline over the last two decades. It is connected to the Boyle river through the Shannon and by the Boyle Canal to Lough Arrow and Lough Key. It lies within 6k of Lough Key Forest Park. Boyle is leading out on strategies for towns along the Shannon Navigation with Boyle 2040, a plan which addresses the challenges for the town in adapting to new roles and a new identity and creating a re-imagined town centre. Under the objective of ‘Strengthening the Boyle to Lough Key Connection’, it envisages a mutually beneficial shared future, delivered through strategic infrastructural improvements and redevelopment projects. Future opportunities to enhance synergies between Lough Key and Boyle town should improve access by water.”
According to John Mc Donagh. Chief Executive with Waterways Ireland: “The Shannon has always played – and will always continue to play – an important role in the heritage, history, economy, and tourism development of the counties through which it flows. The Shannon Tourism Masterplan sets out a clear set of ambitions and an action plan to achieve them. The collaborative effort which has brought the Plan to this point will be essential to its success. All the partners are committed to the journey towards the Shannon as a World Class Destination within Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands”.
Waterways Ireland’s new Tourism Masterplan has received an enthusiastic endorsement from Boyle native and local TD, Frank Feighan.
“I am very excited about this 140-page plan which contains a real vision for the development of what is a wonderful key tourism destination within Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands” stated Minister Feighan
“Failte Ireland, Department of Community and Rural Development, Heritage, and Leader has been identified as potential funders for many of the proposals in the plan.
“In conclusion I want to encourage our local authorities to embrace this plan and prepare their own plans around this document, I will be engaging with Roscommon and Leitrim Councils to ensure that we can tap into a potential 1.2 million domestic and international tourist market projected to visit the Shannon Waterways by 2030” declared Minister Frank Feighan
You can view the promotional video and read the Masterplan here
(Pic Lough Key copyright Boyletoday.com)