Local tourism enjoyed a significant boost with last Friday’s official opening of the Cavan Burren and Interpretative Centre.
Driven by Coillte and Cavan County Council the Burren consists of a 5km stretch of walking trails, including a multi-access trail and an interpretative centre within the UNESCO designated Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark.
The site boasts exceptional archaeological heritage with over 80 monuments, ancient huts and field systems that survive from prehistoric times.
The 124 hectare Cavan Burren Park was made possible through over €900,000 in funding, some of which was used to provide car parking for 37 cars and nine mini buses.
Chairman of Cavan County Council, Val Smith accurately described the Cavan Burren Park “as a tourism attraction of national importance”.
He commended the work of P&S Civil Works, who built the centre, and acknowledged the contribution to the project of Killinagh Community Council. “Local Leaders like Jim Nolan have been tireless advocates for the development of the site,” he said.
“I commend the Cavan Burren Park to you all and spread the news far and wide, of what the Geopark and Cavan has to offer,” he said, and introduced Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan.
The minister said the project was part of the plan to develop the ICBAN region into “a world class tourism destination”.
“The Cavan Burren Park and other elements of the Border Uplands project will help to unlock the tourism potential of this beautiful county and will contribute significantly to the overall success of the project,” added the Minister.
Minister Hogan pointed out that in County Leitrim, the works at Farnaught Lake, Eagles Rock, and Glenade Lake and the raised bog at Sliabh an Iarainn, will each enhance the accessibility and understanding of these unique sites for visitors.
“Here in Cavan, this flagship Interpretative Centre for the Cavan Burren will support the existing small scale cultural centres and attract larger number of visitors, scientists, geologists, students and researchers from various fields worldwide to the region.
“This in turn will have spin-off effects for local tourism providers, facilities and services and will make an important contribution to the economy of the whole region, with income derived from tourist activity, which will be distributed across a range of economic sectors,” said Minister Hogan.
Welcoming the completion of work, Fianna Fáil Councillor, John Paul Feeley said he is calling for a sustained programme to promote the region and further enhance the tourism product in County Cavan. Councillor Feeley also called for an immediate investment in improving road signage and in a detailed marketing plan for the Cavan Burren the flagship project for Cavan Tourism into the future.
This was echoed by former County Manager Jack Keyes, who said: “You can see from driving up the narrow beautiful roads here today, the place has a very authentic country feel to it.
“Our long term vision is that this will become a site of international importance.”
He added that a substantial first step had been made, and a marketing drive was next on the agenda.
“We have got to get people to visit the site, learn from those visitors, and we also have to visit the schools and universities – a big job now awaits on that front, now that the facility is a reality.”
Mr Keyes predicted that there will be further steps along the way. “We have to see where that next step is – I think there is going to be another major step – I think that will make for very interesting times ahead for Cavan.
“I also think there will be opportunity for spin-off enterprises arising in the area and I know you will get the full support of all the agencies in that respect – so please rise to the challenge – I have no doubt you will,” said Jack Keyes.