The sod has been turned on the first phase of an almost €3 million plan to transform Carrigfoyle quarry and lake in Barntown into an outdoor Activity Centre and forest walking trails.
Phase one of the ambitious development costing €850,000 , will start next week and will consist of the construction of a new access road to the site, parking areas for cars and buses and sewage and water connections down the hill to Larkin's Cross.
Also included will be the creation of three kilometres of walking trails suitable for people of all abilities along with information and direction signs and clifftop viewing points around the lake, all on local authority lands.
The works are being funded by Wexford County Council with grant aid under the Outdoor Infrastructure Recreational Scheme. The initial stage is expected to be completed by the end of August next year.
The second phase which is currently being designed, will cost an estimated €2 million and will see the development of an Activity Centre with a reception area, cafe and toilets.
Carrigfoyle Activity Centre is a joint venture between Wexford County Council and the Waterford Wexford Education and Training Board, with the local authority building and premises and leasing it to the WWETB.
It is expected that Sheilbaggan Outdoor Pursuit Centre in Ramsgrange will transfer to the centre, conditional on approval for the re-location from the Department of Education, with discussions currently taking place. This would bring an educational dimension to the tourism attraction.
A new footpath and cycling lane already in use have received positive feedback from visitors, according to executive engineer Michael Jones who made a presentation on the project to councillors on Monday, accompanied by senior engineer Brian Galvin.
Carrigfoyle Activity Centre will offer supervised water-based activities such as canoeing and kayaking, with zip lines and other outdoor pursuits such as rock climbing also planned.
The first sod was turned by the Mayor of Wexford, Cllr. George Lawlor last Friday at a ceremony attended by Minister of State with responsibility for Defence, Paul Kehoe and Wexford District Council members who have strongly welcomed the development.
'The centre will be situated within the outstanding natural amenity that is the old quarry on Forth Mountain with panoramic views over a wide area of Wexford', said the Mayor, Cllr. Lawlor.
'It will be a terrific attraction for Wexford people and visitors, providing outdoor pursuits in a wonderful natural amenity', he said.
Cllr. Garry Laffan who lives in the area said there is great excitement and anticipation among local people about the plans following 'tragic events' there in the past.
'All the people around the area are absolutely looking forward to it', he added.