Global Network of National Geoparks

New plans to boost tourists and income for Cavan

Source : Source: Published :July 2, 2008


Cavan is in pole position to benefit from millions of euro of investment if appeals in support of the Castlesaunderson Scouting Project and a geopark in the Cuilcagh Mountains are successful in the coming weeks.

The county council is hopeful that the EU Special Programmes Body will look positively at the application by the partners of the All-Ireland Scout Jamboree, according to the director of services, Seamus Neely. He revealed that a number of evaluations on the project had taken place, including a significant one announced last week. The EU Body has now recommended the project to the institutions that will make the decision on formal approval.

“It’s fair to say that final approval has not issued yet, but a significant advance has been made on the way to such a decision,” said Mr. Neely. “But we shouldn’t pre-empt that final decision, which will be forthcoming in the next few weeks.”

There was good news for on Jun. 23, when county councillors heard that Cavan and Fermanagh were joining forces to send a formal application to UNESCO, seeking recognition for a cross-border geopark stretching across the Cuilcagh Mountains and incorporating the Marble Arch Caves and the Burren area of west Cavan - an area with huge geological and historical importance.

The county manager, Jack Keyes, said that UNESCO will adjudicate on the application during the summer, and if the verdict is positive the next step would be to develop the various sites in association with An Coillte.

The project offered Cavan a landmark attraction with benefits for the entire county, Mr. Keyes told the June meeting of the council. “It will be the first cross-border geopark in the world. Work is already is under way, with the provision of new signs, mapping and the making of the area more accessible to people,” he said.

Senior figures from Fáilte Ireland North West were at the meeting to give the geopark idea their backing. The chairman, Pascal Mooney, and the acting chief executive, Martina Bromley, also assured the council that in the tourism plan for the region, Cavan was at the centre of the action. They acknowledged that, while in the past Donegal had been dominant in the region because of its established tourism industry, the situation was changing and the lakeland counties were coming to the fore in terms of their unique strengths as places for a wide range of holidays and sporting pursuits.

At the meeting of Belturbet Town Council on Monday, Cllr. John Scott welcomed the news on Castlesaunderson, pointing out that it would be the most significant development to take place in the area for some time. He said that he and his scouting colleague, Seamus O’Reilly (regional commissioner), had been working on the project for the past two years, and he complimented the county manager, Jack Keyes, Mr. Neely and the Scouting people in Dublin for their work on moving the project forward.

Cllr. Anthony Vesey acknowledged the consistent support of Minister Brendan Smith, saying he looked “forward with confidence that the necessary final approval will be forthcoming in due course,”. Cllr. Seamus Fitzpatrick said “we must win on this occasion. I look forward to rapid progress in relation to the approval process.”

Mr. Keyes told the Anglo-Celt that Cavan County Council had played a pivotal role in advancing the application for funding: “It is acknowledged that progress to date has been satisfactory and we will be redoubling our efforts over the coming months to convince all concerned of the worth and viability of our proposal,” he said.

Other major tourism-related projects mentioned at Monday’s meeting were Rally Ireland, a stage of which will use the roads around Glangevlin and Blacklion in January 2009, and the extensions of the Shannon Erne Navigation to Killykeen and of the Shannon Navigation to Dowra. Mr. Mooney said a full re-opening of the Ulster Canal from Lough Erne to Lough Neagh would bring increased tourism traffic to Cavan, and suggested that St. Angelo Airport at Enniskillen could be an important entry hub for this region.

He informed the meeting that the north west attracted 1.5m visitors who spent €366m in 2007; two thirds were Irish and the remainder from overseas. Cavan attracted 100,000 overseas visitors who spent €35m in 2007.

“It emphasises the vital importance that tourism is to the economy here in Cavan, which has unique characteristics in terms of its attractiveness for angling holidays.” He suggested interest groups in the area could hold one large festival, which Fáilte Ireland could back, though it has a limited budget of about €150,000 out of which it gives grants to a substantial number of small festivals.

Cavan is in pole position to benefit from millions of euro of investment if appeals in support of the Castlesaunderson Scouting Project and a geopark in the Cuilcagh Mountains are successful in the coming weeks.