Arrow Community Enterprises (ACE) Limited, the group for local community development in the Lough Arrow region of south Sligo has come to an agreement to operate the Field Study Centre at Ballinafad in line with the original ethos of this flagship initiative, which is to maximise the tourism potential around our local historic sites, heritage, and archaeology.
Local businessman, Patrick Ward, of The Coach House Hotel in Ballymote and The Foxs Den in Keash will develop the centre in partnership with the Lough Arrow community as 2-star guest accommodation.
Commenting on his venture, Patrick said, “During the pandemic, I saw the opportunity to connect tourism-based community enterprise in Ballinafad. I plan to encourage tourists to visit and explore nearby amenities, water sports and walking trails and to visit the world- renowned archaeological sites. These include the Carrowkeel megalithic tombs and Keash Caves. With the new N4 road open to Sligo, we can provide family friendly, inexpensive accommodation in scenic surroundings within easy access to Sligo. In addition to supporting remote working and forming a community network, I am keen to provide local employment and work with local providers.”
A programme of enhancement and renewal works is at completion for the Field Study Centre. This comes following ACE successfully securing €100,000 in funding under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme, a key part of the Action Plan for Rural Development and the Government’s Project Ireland 2040 Programme for Rural Regeneration.
ACE made the application to upgrade the Field Study Centre and provide trailhead facilities linking the Red Earl Road, a segment of the Miners Way walking trail.
New doors and triple glazed windows were installed to increase energy efficiency and security for the building. Structural works including an upgrading of the heating system and exterior repainting occurred over the summer, while trailhead facilities are being finalised.
The latest addition of a community-based tourism enterprise is in keeping with the original ethos of the building and will promote Ballinafad and the Lough Arrow area as a destination for culture and local heritage and archaeology within the region.
The centre will continue to play a significant role in community life and as a base for the National Parks & Wildlife Service.
ACE Chairman, David Tormey said, “ACE are delighted to have made such progress in enhancing the building and its usage during this challenging year.
“I would like to pay tribute to all our committee members for their dedication; especially its longest serving members, Louis Carty, Roisin McGlone, and Michael Keville who committed their time and energy in securing the future of the centre. Also, to acknowledge Michael Carty of Sligo County Council, Michael Quigley former CEO of Sligo Leader and the local community for their support and engagement.”