A new, enthusiastic group has been set up with the aim of promoting the Knockmealdown Mountains and the surrounding areas.
‘Knockmealdown Active’ is the title of the new group, which is lead by a steering group drawn from the communities of Clogheen, Ardfinnan, Goatenbridge, Newcastle and Ballyporeen and the different interest groups in those communities.
The group hope to promote the huge, untapped potential of the natural beauty spot.
The origins of ‘Kockmealdown Active’ are in the report of Dublin-based SLR Consulting, who were engaged to carry out a feasibility study for the development of a recreational strategy for the Knockmealdown Mountains and surrounding area.
Funding for the feasibility study came from South Tipperary Tourism Company, South Tipperary Development Company, the Department of Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs and the European Union.
The report found that the Knockmealdowns and surrounds have potential as a walking destination for recreational walkers, with numerous way-marked ways and lopped walks in place. The area is already popular - 200 people took part in the Knockmealdown Crossing with Peaks club just last week. The area could also be a destination for cultural heritage - Newcastle is a ‘breac Gaeltacht’ and this could be a major attraction for the area in future.
The Knockmealdown Steering committee has applied for funding to develop an Irish language weekend which would incorporate language classes, walks as Gaeilge, ceili etc. They are also considering applying for a TG4 programme called The G-Team, which will visit on communities that want to develop an Irish festival.
Other areas of potential development including orienteering courses for students/scouts/youth clubs etc near Clogheen; promoting the area as an educational tourism destination (for example Geography school trips that would encompass Bay Lough, the Knockmealdowns and nearby Mitchelstown Caves); a tourism destination for country sports like fishing, shooting and hunting which would be a boost for accommodation providers and local business in quiet winter months; and as a heritage tourism destination- Liam Lynch monument and GAA heritage.
As it starts its promotional work the group is eager to hear from locals with information and pictures of activities in the area, so Knockmealdown Active can generate a daily round up of what’s happening in the area.
If you have a photograph of the beauty and the fun in the area then you could be in line to win a prize of €50 for the best ‘Knockmealdown Active’ photo. The group has an email - firstname.lastname@example.org, and a Facebook page called Knockmealdown Active. Entries must be emailed before May 30.
The consultants highlighted some of the strengths of the area as the clean, unspoilt environment, the good selection of walks and excellent potential for outdoor activities. However some of the weaknesses were named as the lack of a central point for accessing tourist and visitor information, that the Knockmealdowns straddle three separate counties, so it is not a priority for any one county.
The Knockmealdown Active steering group is being supported and helped in every way by Philip Ryan and Con Ryan. Philip Ryan is project officer with Celtic Community Link which is a Muintir na Tire initiative and his time working with our group is being funded by the Ireland/Wales fund. Con Ryan is rural recreation officer with the South Tipperary Development Company. The steering group feel indebted to both organisations and both men for their enthusiasm and support in this project.