New Ballyconnell to Bellaheady Recreational Trail Opens
The 5.5km Ballyconnell to Bellaheady Recreational Trail, a partnership venture between Cavan County Council and Waterways Ireland, was officially opened on Friday, 25th March by Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, Cathaoirleach of Cavan County Council, Councillor Clifford Kelly, and Chief Executive Officer of Waterways Ireland, Mr John McDonagh.
The project, which will ultimately form part of a broader 54km greenway along the old Cavan to Leitrim Railway line, received €684,289 in funding from the Department of Rural and Community Development under the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme. Additional match funding was provided by Cavan County Council and Waterways Ireland.
The new 5.5km trail provides an excellent recreational facility, linking Ballyconnell and Bellaheady, along the scenic banks of the Woodford River on the Shannon Erne Waterway. The trail also provides connectivity to the existing Woodford Village Walk, a key amenity in the UNESCO Cuilcagh Lakelands Geopark.
Welcoming the opening of the new trail, Cathaoirleach of Cavan County Council, Councillor Clifford Kelly said, “This trail is a wonderful addition to our local tourism product and enhances one of our greatest resources – our stunning natural landscape and our abundant waterways. Every 1,000 tourists that visit Cavan help support 14 jobs. The tourism and hospitality sector employs some 3,200 people in County Cavan and projects such as this will contribute greatly to the recovery and future growth of the sector in the coming months and years”.
Officially opening the new trail, Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD said, “Projects like this recreational trail are not just places where we can go for a walk, a run or a cycle”.
“They are places where we can come together as family and friends, to enjoy the beautiful outdoors, and where better to do this than in Ballyconnell which is in the heart of the Cuilcagh Lakelands UNESCO Global Geopark in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands.
“I want to commend the work of Cavan County Council and Waterways Ireland who have worked closely together to deliver this project - without your collaboration, dedication, and drive we would not be here today.
“This project is a great example of how different parties can work, hand in hand, to achieve results for the benefit of the wider community and that will also encourage tourists to visit rural areas of Ireland,” added Minister Humphreys.
Chief Executive of Waterways Ireland, Mr John McDonagh said, “I welcome the completion of this latest recreational trail along the Shannon-Erne Waterway from Ballyconnell to Bellaheady. I want to acknowledge and thank Minister Humphreys for the funding from her department in facilitating our partnership with Cavan County Council to deliver this phase. The recreational trail will provide a wonderful experience for local people, activity clubs, social and youth groups to enjoy. We look forward to working with Cavan County Council to deliver future projects along the Shannon-Erne to enhance the recreational opportunities for local people”.
Chief Executive of Cavan County Council, Mr Tommy Ryan said, “The partnership between Cavan County Council, Waterways Ireland, the Department of Rural and Community Development, and of course our local communities, has been key to delivering this project and I want to commend all involved in bringing this trail to fruition”.
“This trail, which will prove an invaluable resource for locals and visitors alike, delivers on many of the local authority’s strategic goals and objectives as outlined in the council’s Walking and Cycling Strategy, the County Cavan Tourism Strategy, the Healthy Cavan Strategy, and the Local Economic and Community Plan, among others. I want to acknowledge the efforts of our staff across the organisation in delivering this project, and also our elected members whose support has been unwavering for this scheme,” added Mr Ryan.
Cavan County Council Director of Services for Roads and Infrastructure, Mr Paddy Connaughton, said, “Working alongside our partners in Leitrim County Council and Waterways Ireland, we have made great progress in realising our strategic goal of developing the Cavan Leitrim Railway Greenway. In addition to today’s opening, we have also recently completed work on a second recreational trail along this route, a 6km trail from Belturbet to Corraquil, which was also funded through the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme to the value of €500,000”.
“Significant strides have also been made on the Western end of the proposed greenway, which will ultimately link Dromod in Leitrim with Belturbet in Cavan via Mohill, providing a world-class health and recreation amenity along the historic old narrow gauge railway line.”