BY HELEN RIDDELL
TOURISM on the Beara Peninsula is set to receive a welcome boost when government restrictions are lifted with the opening of Ireland’s first horse trail, the Beara Bridle Way.
The 17km horse trail, which straddles the borders of Cork and Kerry, is managed by Beara Tourism and runs from Castletownbere to Allihies.
The trail, which cost €83,000, was developed following a successful joint funding application with Beara Tourism and Cork County Council. The Rural Economic Development Zones scheme awarded €53,000 to the project and the Department of Rural and Community Development’s Local Improvement Scheme awarded a further €96,000 to erect a bridge at the section of the trail at Caminches, Allhiies.
Jim O’Sullivan of Beara Tourism explained how the project first started in 2016: ‘We reached out to the British Horse Society, which has over 120,000 members in Britain and Ireland. They visited Beara to carry out an assessment and advised us on the correct procedures. Various infrastructural works included installing special gates along the trail which can be opened and closed while remaining on horseback, and once all the work was completed, the British Horse Society and Sports Ireland gave their official approval and endorsement.’
The trail, said Jim, will be a huge boost for tourism in Beara, which is suffering from the Covid-19 restrictions.
‘With social distancing set to remain for the foreseeable future, the Beara Bridle Way is the ideal way to explore the peninsula while maintaining social distance,’ he said. He also thanked local landowners who signed up to the project, and said local landowners and farmers had been very supportive from day one.
The Beara Bridle Way is also set to benefit local businesses throughout Beara.
Annie O’Neill, who owns Lios Lara Riding Stables, said: ‘I’ve already had people contacting me about hiring horses from us to ride on the trail. We can hire horses to people to ride on the trail or for those who want to transport their own horses to ride here, we can provide stabling.
‘The trail will be great for Beara as the distance it takes to travel to us, people will need to to stay a few days, which will benefit local B&Bs and hotels and restaurants.’
The Beara Bridle Way will officially open later this year. Further details and maps are available at www.bearabridleway.com