The first of Nenagh Mayor Virginia O’Dowd’s Be A Tourist At Home For A Day initiatives was described as a”brilliant” and a “super idea” by North Tipperary marketing officer Aine McCarthy.
The newly-appointed executive said that the inaugural trip last week from Nenagh to Birdhill via Garrykennedy and Ballina was one that families could do over the summer.
“It doesn’t require a huge level of fitness and can be done at your own pace,” said Ms McCarthy.
The group, led by Mayor O’Dowd, left Nenagh’s railway station and cycled to Garrykennedy, where they had scones and coffee in Larkins, before taking the back road over to Castlelough, which Ms McCarthy described as a “beautiful, quiet road”.
She said that the stops in Garrykennedy and then Ballina were very important because they were supporting local businesses.
The group continued on to Birdhill where Denis Floyd gave thema tour of the award winning Tidy Towns village’s community park, before heading back to Nenagh on the train. The Ballybrophy line is one of the few lines in Ireland that still has the capability to carry a number of bicycles.
Ms McCarthy said that the group will meet shortly to discuss the opportunities that are there to promote the idea to more people, both in the area and outside the county.
She revealed that the council plans to launch a new website that will include a tourism section and the routes will be posted on the site.
Mayor O’Dowd said that the there was so much to do and see on the trip that they ran out of time.
“We followed the signposted B route from the Nenagh cycyling routes which brought us over quiet roads, especially the back road from Garrykennedy to Castleough, which is right by the lake,” she said.
She said that the launch was one of her mayoral initiatives and was designed to encourage people to experience what the area had to offer and it was important that any money spent was left with local businesses.
“I would encourage people to use the three cycle routes that I helped set up under the last council. The routes are all looped, which means that if you need to double back or find the going anyways tough, it is easy to make a detour and head back to Nenagh,” she said. “The routes bring you through some beautiful parts of the countryside around Lough Derg and Nenagh, parts that you make not see from a car.”
She said that one example of this was at the community park in Birdhill, which, she said, she had passed many times in her car without realising it was there.
“Our trip was done through the eyes of a tourist, and any tourist experiencing what we experienced would be very impressed with what we have to offer,” she said.
Mayor O’Dowd pointed out that, apart from the fitnes benefit, taking a cycling trip meant no petrol costs, which meant more spending power in your pocket and that it allowed you to engage more with local people and the countryside.
Mayor O’Dowd is planning two further trips in the coming weeks, details of which will be available later. Brochures on the cycyling routes are available from the tourist office and from tourist accommodation providers.