A new tourism site could be on the cards for Co Clare that would provide camping facilities with numerous water activities to boot.
Lands at Ballaghafadda on the Kildysart Rd have already been zoned for tourism prompting Cllr Paul Murphy to request the site be promoted “as an anchor destination for the Shannon Estuary Way”.
In a motion to the September meeting of the Ennis Municipal District, the Fine Gael representative wanted the site’s “massive potential” to be considered for camping, caravan and campervan facilities plus water activities such as kayaking, pedal boats and canoeing. As part of the request, he asked for an overall vision to fund and develop it be provided by the MD with the project to dovetail “with the already existing adjacent potential of Killone (Newhall) Lough and Ballybeg woods” the channel for which would require cleaning and a widening of the Kildysart Rd along the verge of the site also necessary, the extent of which dependent on the scale of works.
Rural Development Director Leonard Cleary acknowledged its potential as a Shannon Estuary Way destination. “The landbank was purchased with the dual objective of providing a new county burial grounds on the adjoining zoned (community) lands as well as some tourism functions”. He felt there was “opportunity for development”.
Cleary confirmed assessments such as flood risk had to be conducted “to determine best use”. A funding stream for the development of the complex is to be reviewed, “there is potentially a revenue stream from the County Burial Ground element, however other funding sources will be required to develop the site” such as grant aid funding, development levies or leasing which would result in phased development. A survey of the lands has been commissioned by the Rural Directorate and a desktop study to be undertaken “to determine the order of magnitude and scope for the site”.
His response pleased Cllr Murphy with the Clarecastle man highlighting the site’s proximity the M18, Shannon Airport and Galway as key strengths. “I’m passionate about it because it’s on my doorstep but it’s also on the doorstep of town”.
Described by Cllr Ann Norton as “an extremely positive motion,” she maintained “it would benefit the whole Municipal District” and draw in visitors from outside Clare. “There is a huge amount of people out there that have a huge interest in fishing, it is hugely important that Clare County Council keep moving forward and make the most of this opportunity not alone for Clarecastle but the Ennis Municipal District”.
“It has great tourism potential for Ennis, Clarecastle and the whole county. It would be great for the Kildysart Rd to have a campervan site,” Cllr Pat Daly stated. Fine Gael’s Mary Howard praised the vision of her colleague in bringing the item forward. “It has the potential to follow Lees Rd”. She recalled a recent trip to Cobh with Ennis Tidy Towns, “they have a great setup for campervans, there is very little maintenance work involved in it and it is a runaway success”.
Part of the reply which pleased Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy was that councillors would be briefed on the matter by the end of the year, “A campervan park would increase bednights, this is a District wide objective”. Cllr Johnny Flynn supported the motion but cautioned, “It takes at least five years to get anything done on a large scale”.