Blackwater heritage trail aims to entice more visitors
Pictured in Fermoy with the bus that will take visitors on a tour of the new Blackwater Valley Heritage Trail; Damien Tobin, Tom Barry TD, Valerie Murphy, CEO of Avondhu Blackwater Partnership, Heritage Specialist Christy Roche & Sean Hegarty,… Credit: (Photo: Dermot FitzGerald)
By JOE LEOGUE
Thursday August 11 2011
A TOURISM initiative instigated by a local development group aims to promote North Cork’s rich heritage, while providing a welcome boost to the area’s economy in the process.
The Avondhu Blackwater Partnership has launched the Blackwater Valley Heritage Trail, a unique tour that promises to highlight the cultural, historical and social history of north Cork to visitors both local and international.
Damien Tobin, co-ordinator of the Rural Transport Scheme, explained that the trail has already been put in place, and that the latest development offers interested visitors an opportunity to take in the full heritage of the region, from Mallow in the west to Lismore in the east via bus. He says they expect the tour to not only appeal to those visiting the region, but locals who are largely unaware of the history on their doorstep.
“There are so many of the historical ‘big houses,’ for example, right here in the Blackwater valley that people don’t know about. We have already set up the trail and the information points across all the points in the region. This next step is about presenting it as a package and making it as easy as possible for groups to take in the trail,” he said.
The tour will run on a non-for-profit basis, and is subsidised by the State as part of the Rural Development Programme.
The new attraction aims to entice people to come to the region, with the hope that the spin off may encourage visitors to spend money in local shops or cafes, according to Valerie Murphy, CEO of Avondhu Blackwater Partnership.
“This is a simple idea, but one we hope to develop a social enterprise out of,” she explained.
“We feel that the tourism marketing for the south of the country places too much emphasis on West Cork and Kerry and fails to promote what we have here in North Cork.
“Through the auspices of Deputy Tom Barry we have negotiated with Failte Ireland, who have committed to a tour guide training for 20 people. We hope to offer places giving tours to people on a part time basis, perhaps farmers in the region who know the area and need income support, or others who may be bent towards this kind of work,” she added.
Deputy Tom Barry was on hand to launch the trail, and was full of praise for the initiative shown by the local development group.
“This is about the creation of a brand, one that promotes the hugely significant cultural, literary and historical places of interest the region has to offer,” he said.
“It is fantastic to see that locals will play a part in giving the tours. We have a strong oral tradition in Ireland, and this is a continuation of that which allows our history to be experienced in an authentic fashion.
“This idea is about empowering locals to transmit their history and in turn instils a read pride in our area,” he added.
The trail takes bookings of groups of ten or more every Wednesday and Saturday, with a standard price of €25 per person. For more details call 025 33411