PROPOSALS for a major extension of the River Fergus walkway have received a significant boost with the allocation of €50,000 to assess how best to link it to Clarecastle Quay where a trailhead development is being planned.

The funding, announced by Rural and Community Development Minister Heather Humphreys, comes less than a year after the opening of the 1.5 kilometre paved cycling and walking route from the Quin Road in Ennis to the Clareabbey roundabout.

Welcoming the €50,000 grant from the outdoor recreation grants scheme, local Fine Gael TD Joe Carey said that the money would be used to develop a plan to extend the route to the Quay in Clarecastle ahead of applying for larger finding to deliver the project in full.

“The overwhelmingly positive reaction to the first phase of the Fergus walkway has given impetus to proceed with the task of linking it to Clarecastle where a trailhead, incorporating a boardwalk and visitor facilities, will be developed,” Deputy Carey explained.

“The project is already generating significant tourism and educational benefits to an area that is beautifully scenic, ecologically rich and historically important. It also has the potential to evolve into one of the most significant recreational projects in the county, particularly in the context of a link to the proposed West Clare Greenway which has been under active consideration for several years.

“The development of the existing walkway is a practical example of how proper planning can broaden the benefits of public investment. The extensive engineering work on the Ennis South drainage scheme provided the opportunity to develop a walkway along the length of the embankment.

“Because some of the groundwork and infrastructure was already in place, a high standard walkway could be delivered at a very competitive price. The level of co-operation between the Rural Directorate of Clare County Council, Ennis Chamber, Clarecastle Tidy Towns/Clarecastle Community Development Ltd (CCDL) and local public representatives particularly Cllr Paul Murphy and Cllr Johnny Flynn was a significant factor in its successful delivery.

“We are hoping that similar synergies can be employed in the next phases of the project and the latest round of funding will allow us to minimise the cost and maximise the benefits of a truly worthwhile development,” Deputy Carey added.

In addition to the funding for the Fergus walkway, a further €121,000 has been allocated to six other recreational schemes around the county.

Allocations to other Clare projects include €28,975 for the creation of a new walking trail adjacent to the Kilnamona GAA complex;€22,304 for the design and development of a lakeside amenity at Doon Lake, Broadford; €21,207 to link cycle routes from Kilrush Town Centre and along the nearby coastal roads; €20,102 towards the development of a community area at Cullaun Lake, Kilkishen; €15,508 for the development of a looped walking trail in Ennistymon and €13,036 to improve the Errina Canal trail surface in O’Briensbridge.

CAPTION: Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey with Rural Development Minister Heather Humphreys.