Cathaoirleach John Paul Feely.

Calls for Coillte to handover Burren Park to council

Pressure is being put on national forestry agency, Coillte, to cede control of the Burren Park near Blacklion to Cavan County Council in the interests of protecting the historic site and popular visitor attraction for “future generations”.

Cathaoirleach John Paul Feeley, who proposed the change of ownership by way of a motion tabled at last Monday’s monthly meeting of elected members, accused Coillte of “poor management” of what many consider to be one of Ireland’s finest prehistoric relict landscapes.

The Fianna Fáil councillor stated that in the past decade trees had been felled in the area, particularly around several of the monuments. This had created sightlines to adjoining areas, providing a degree of “context” as to the significance of the monuments themselves. However, the cleared areas were subsequently replanted, specifically with Sitka Spruce, a non-native tree, and these viewing areas were beginning to be lost within the growth.

To the meeting, Cllr Feeley mentioned Tullygobbin Hill and Tullygobbin Lake, and noted that, as each year passes, the views are diminished.

He said such loss was tantamount to “vandalism”, adding that “something needs to be done”.

His protestation at the “poor management” was all the more fevered given Cavan County Council is working on plans to deliver a €6.4M tourism development at the Shannon Pot and Cavan Burren Park in Blacklion.

That project, announced last year, is already well underway in terms of final design.

A series of public consultations in the west of the county have also taken place.

The Anglo-Celt can reveal that the council aims to go to planning before the end of this year.

To be a flagship attraction in the northern region of Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, the visitor experience will be two-fold in how it promotes the source of the River Shannon, the Shannon Pot, and further enhances the existing Cavan Burren Park, part of the wider Cuilcagh Lakelands Global Geopark.

After the meeting had ended, Director of Services Brendan Jennings confirmed to this newspaper: “The funding is already in place for the construction of that so we plan to go through the planning phase and the tendering process, and after that construction. We’re looking at planning for later this year, to be still on track to have all completed by early 2025.”

Cllr Feeley’s motion was supported by fellow party colleague, Sean Smith, who described what was being proposed as a “common sense” approach.

There was, he said, a “collective responsibility” to ensure such sites were managed properly, and the assets within protected sufficiently.

There was support too for the motion from Fine Gael’s Peter McVitty, and from Independent Councillor Brendan Fay. Mr Jennings himself responded to the motion. He noted how, over the past decade and a half, interest in the Cavan Burren Park had grown significantly.

He indicated that the council continues to have a good working relationship with Coillte with regards to the location, but understood the concerns being expressed and why the points were being made.