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Friday 19 January 2018

Ancestral home of ‘the Liberator’ Daniel O’Connell to get overhaul as part of €6.6m tourism boost

Brian Hutton

IRELAND’S longest traffic-free cycle and walking route is about to get even longer.

And the ancestral home of "the Liberator", Daniel O'Connell, in Co Kerry, will get an overhaul as part of a €6.6m cash injection for tourist attractions.

Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar said grants rubber-stamped for nine projects in the west and south would boost Ireland's growing reputation for outdoor activity holidays.

"Walking and cycling play to our strengths as a holiday destination," he said.

"The easier we make it for participants, the more attractive Ireland becomes as a destination."

Mr Varadkar said the funding would further open up renowned destinations like the Burren, the Clare Glens and Spike Island.

Included is a €1.8m extension of the Great Western Greenway cycle and walking route to Croagh Patrick and from Castlebar to Islandeady in Co Mayo.

Officially opened in July, the trail already follows 42km (26 miles) of the old Westport to Achill railway which closed in 1937.

It is the longest traffic-free route of its kind for cyclists and pedestrians in Ireland.

Another €3.1m will go towards the upgrade of a walking trail between Shannon Bridge and Sarsfield Bridge along Howley's Quay in Limerick, to include boardwalks and outdoor performance area.

Around €250,000 will be spent on developing walks around Fort Mitchell on Spike Island, Co Cork.

Derrynane House, in Caherdaniel in Co Kerry, the home of Catholic emancipator and statesman Mr O'Connell, will also get €1.2m to help transform it into a major tourist draw over the next three years.

"The new works there will help people to visualise what the house was like when he was alive, and bring to life that crucial period of our history," said Mr Varadkar.

Other projects given the green light for upgrades and development include the Burren Heritage Trail and the Doolin Cycle Hub in Co Clare, as well as the Clare Glens and Nenagh Cycleway in Co Tipperary.

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