Community and agency partners across Limerick and North Cork gathered at Griston Bog near Ballylanders on Tuesday last to join Ballyhoura Development for the launch of the Ballyhoura Trails Masterplan.

A 15-year framework aimed at increasing the quality and quantity of recreational trails for residents and visitors alike within the Ballyhoura Region.

Trails have become an integral part of the Ballyhoura area over the past 30 years, providing a recreational experience for thousands of people annually. The local trails have grown to become a critical part of the region's identity, sense of place, and lifestyle. They are a significant driver of local social, environmental, and economic activity and contribute positively to the health and well-being of residents and visitors alike. The region's natural beauty and rich cultural and built heritage environment are central to these benefits.

The Ballyhoura Trails Masterplan focuses on three overarching themes: Partnership Working, Product Development, and Marketing and Promotion. It sets ambitious goals for accessibility, geographic diversity, and international appeal. The plan aims to ensure that everyone, regardless of skill level, has access to these trails, emphasising the importance of community and agency collaboration.

The development of this strategy has been a community-driven process, engaging 450 individuals, including community groups, volunteers, trail users, and local businesses, alongside collaborations with the steering group agency representatives. 

Mary Laffan, Chairperson of Ballyhoura Development CLG, expressed "gratitude to Outscape and the staff of Ballyhoura Development who have led and facilitated the process on the ground to ensure that all voices are heard in the development of this strategy." The Board of Ballyhoura Development also "expressed their appreciation to the steering group of the Masterplan including representatives from Ballyhoura Heritage & Environment CLG, Ballyhoura Fáilte DAC, Ballyhoura Bears Walking Club, Cork County Council, Limerick City and County Council, Fáilte Ireland, Munster Vales, Cork and Limerick Sports Partnerships and Coillte for their valuable contributions."

Marie Healy, Projects Officer for Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands at Fáilte Ireland said: “Fáilte Ireland welcomes the launch of the Ballyhoura Trails Masterplan. Ballyhoura is an important part of Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands and this Masterplan will help enhance its tourism offering by integrating the various trail types into a cohesive visitor and community experience. The Plan will also support Fáilte Ireland’s Destination Experience Development Plan (DEDP) process for Ballyhoura Country which will commence later this year. This DEDP will ensure that tourism development in Ballyhoura will have a sustainable and regenerative focus, with benefits accruing to the local community and nature.”

The hope is that the Trails Masterplan will provide a framework for all communities and activities across the region to align plans with, and that it is strongly supported and considered by the future commissioning of County-led Outdoor Recreation Strategies and the Fáilte Ireland Destination and Experience Development Plan for the Ballyhoura region in the months and years ahead.

The Ballyhoura Trails Masterplan was supported through funding by the LEADER Programme 2014-2020. 

Ballyhoura Trails Masterplan