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Taoiseach launches 500km BearaBreifne Way

Monday, 27th May, 2013 9:33am
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Taoiseach launches 500km BearaBreifne Way

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A WALKING route which was launched by Taoiseach Enda Kenny last week will enable walkers to travel from Dursey Island to the Glens of Antrim. They will also be encouraged to avail of a specially designed passport, which can be stamped with heritage stamps for each town and village they visit along the trail.

The 500km Beara–Breifne Way follows the route Donal Cam O’Sullivan Beare, the last independent chieftain of the West Cork and Kerry area, took with his followers after the Battle of Kinsale in 1602. Donal Cam and 1,000 men, women and children set off from the Beara Peninsula on New Year’s Eve in 1602 on an arduous 14-day trek to join forces with rebel leaders in Breifne, County Leitrim. Only 35 finally arrived into Leitrim with Donal Cam.

The walking route is the culmination of a joint effort with local community groups from towns along the route who have come together to set up 12 interlinked trails across ten counties and incorporating all four provinces. The groups worked with over 240 landowners, local authorities, the IFA, Failte Ireland, Leader and the Heritage Council to bring the project to fruition. The trail, which is now the longest walking route in the country, is being billed as Ireland’s answer to the famous Spanish route the ‘Camino de Santiago’.

Over 350 people from community groups along the route travelled to the Mansion House for the launch, including a large contingent from Beara.

Speaking at the launch, the Taoiseach said: ‘I would like to pay tribute to the organising committee, the numerous community groups and members of the farming community who have come together to make this project happen. It is great to see tourism infrastructure like this being delivered.’

Castletownbere-based Fine Gael TD Noel Harrington said: ‘This initiative is a stunning example of communities working and linking together. This trail will also bring added employment to each area, which will in turn boost the local and national economy, and will highlight each area’s heritage and wonderful scenery.’ He went on to ‘especially’ thank and congratulate Jim O’Sullivan, Castletownbere, of Beara Tourism, who was involved in this initiative some 15 years ago, and ‘who saw the vision of what this trail would be for tourism in each area, as well as for Ireland nationally.’

Michael Starrett, chief executive of the Heritage Council, which has been involved with the initiative since 2001, commented: ‘Practically all of the land used is private. Farmers and landowners have come together to grant access to walkers. With 240 farmers living on the Beara Way alone, the scale of community collaboration becomes clear.’

The project is part funded by Fáilte Ireland, the Heritage Council and a number of county councils, partnership companies and community groups. It was developed in conjunction with the National Trails Office.

Passports will be available from www.bbgreenway.com.