€1.2 million to support recreation facilities and outdoor tourism

Upgrades planned for Deerpark, Dun an Rí, and Killykeen

Funding worth €1.2 million has been allocated to support recreation facilities and outdoor tourism in forest parks and other Coillte sites.

The investment includes the upgrades of pathways, trails, access roads, boardwalks, carparks and toilet facilities at 33 Coillte sites nationwide.

Among them, €10,000 will be spent upgrading the car-park at Deerpark, and €30,000 upgrading the existing toilet block at Dun an Ri Forest Park in Kingscourt.

A further €70,000 will be invested meanwhile in upgrading both the visitor car-park and a full upgrade of the existing toilet block in Killykeen, Killeshandra.

There is also investment earmarked for Coillte sites in neighbouring counties, with the toilet block to be upgraded at Rossmore Forest Park in Monaghan (€50,000), and the investments in upgrading the car-parks at Littlewood (€12,000) and Summerhill (€9,000).

This additional funding means that the Department of Rural and Community Development will be investing €3.2 million in total in outdoor recreation facilities at Coillte sites this year.

Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD,

Over 18 million individual visits are made to Coillte forests every year with the visitor numbers increasing by 40% during the Pandemic, according to a report published by the Minister today.

The report found that between March and December of last year, some 2.2 million people visited the top 50 Coillte forests.

The funding is designed to enhance the experience of visitors, support rural tourism and develop Ireland’s unique forest amenities.

Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD announced the funding during a visit to Rossmore Forest Park, Co Monaghan, which was the second most visited Forest in Ireland in 2020 after the Dublin Mountains.

During the visit, the Minister also announced the publication of a report outlining the activities funded by her Department and delivered by Coillte in 2020, as part of a five year strategic partnership to improve outdoor recreation facilities.

“For so many of us in rural Ireland, the Pandemic has taught us just how fortunate we are to have big open spaces on our doorstep,” she said. “From our fields, hills, mountains, rivers, lakes and forests – our unique outdoor amenities are amongst our greatest assets.”

Coillte is Ireland’s largest landowner and also the largest provider of outdoor recreation in Ireland, and the minister added: “The fact that it welcomes 18 million visitors to its sites each year demonstrates the important role it plays in facilitating both domestic and international tourists.

“Coillte is uniquely placed to provide access to world class tracks and trails through their extensive estates and I am delighted that my Department is providing funding to Coillte to develop these 33 vital amenities.”

Daithi deForge, Head of Recreation at Coillte said with an almost 40% increase in overall visitor numbers to our most popular recreational forests during Covid, access to the outdoors and Coillte’s recreation facilities such as forest parks, picnic areas, walking and cycling trails has never been more important.

“The increased number of visitors to our forests has led to increased pressure on facilities and with the Department’s support we are now investing in new and upgraded facilities at many of our recreation forests.”