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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.

On Wednesday morning, Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys (FG) announced the funding, less than a year after the opening of the 1.5 kilometre paved cycling and walking route from the Quin Rd in Ennis to the Clareabbey roundabout.

A further €121,000 has been allocated to six other Clare projects. They 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.

Clare TD, Joe Carey (FG) said the €50,000 River Fergus grant 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,” he stated.

Deputy Carey added, “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”.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, Cllr Paul Murphy commended the efforts of the Clarecastle Development Group, Ennis Chamber and Clare County Council on the project to date. “I’d like to welcome the grant of €50,000 towards a feasibility study to explore the potential of bringing the Fergus Walkway from Clareabbey further down the stream to the Quay in Clarecastle. It has been a long-term aspiration of the local development company who teamed up with Promote Ennis and Ennis Chamber a number of years ago, it was great to bring the first stage to fruition in recent times”.

Footfall on the first phase of the Walkway has clearly demonstrated its popularity, Murphy flagged. “Minister Humphreys saw first hand the traffic that was using it, she was very impressed with it. Momentum has been achieved with the first phase, it is critical that we keep that going, the allocation of monies is most welcome. The footfall using the first phase is huge, from dawn to dusk there’s people using it every hour in all kinds of weather, I regularly go there early in the morning on my bike bringing me on a loop to Quin and onwards, there’s people using it from 6am every morning”.

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