Tipperary could be in for a massive tourism boost with the launch of the marketing plan for the Beara Breifne Way. The plan for the route that traces the march of the O’Sullivan Beara from his Cork stronghold in 1603 to Breifne in Cavan was launched by Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly in Toomevara.
“This is an incredible walking route and unique worldwide,” ssaid Minister Kelly. “It is a journey of 500kms with its own unique story.”
The walk travels through 10 counties and three provinces before ending in Blacklion, County Cavan. The Tipperary connection takes in Tipperary Town, Cashel, Cappawhite, Hollyford, Upperchurch, Templederry, Latteragh and Lorrha before crossing the River Shannon at Portumna.
“The Beara Way creates huge potential for the local economy and for towns off it,” said Minister Kelly.
The local Labour Minister said he was committing himself to supporting its development and promised that he would bring Department officials together to “make sure we drive it on. It is massive and needs to be sold as such.”
The walk has been in development for the past 29 years and, according to Jim O’Sullivan from Beara, it is worth E8m to the local economy on the Cork peninsula, with 60,000 crossing its first stile.
Cllr Ger Darcy, Cathaoirleach of Nenagh Municipal District Council said the route gave an opportunity to promote North and South Tipperary areas that would not be known as tourist destinations.
“It is an opportunity we should grasp,” he said.
Tipperary campaigner to open the route through the Premier County Matt Ryan, said he was thrilled that the marketing plan for the entire country was being announced in Toomevara.
“It is important to develop parts of the country that generally we don’t see or hear much about,” he said of its importance.
“We can deliver a great project to middle Ireland and give forgotten villages a lift.”
He highlighted the fact that 60 community groups along the route were directly involved in its development, along with the generosity of 850 landowners who had facilitated the way going through their land.
“The landowners are the real heroes of this project. They delivered without any promise of money. Their generosity and effort to help is incalculable,” said Mr Ryan.
Harriet Emerson of Adjust Consultants, who produced the marketing plan, said that all that remained was to complete minor parts of the route, secure funding and support for marketing and define an organisational structure to run it.
She revealed that they were looking at having the route upgraded to Cultural Route of Europe status.
Michael Parkinson of the Heritage Council described the Beara Breifne Way as the biggest community heritage project in Ireland today.