THE provision of horse trails similar to the Beara Bridle Way could prove to be a major tourism boost, while also meaning less horses would be on rural roads, according to one local councillor.
Cllr Gobnait Moynihan (FF) got unanimous support at a recent meeting of the local authority for her motion calling on the local authority to provide more horse trails around the county.
‘Opening up more horse trails similar to Beara Bridle Way means less horses on our roads.
‘At present the only option is on the road or beach. Riders used to use unofficial trails but are being pushed off for varying reasons including permission, permits and insurance,’ said Cllr Moynihan.
‘We have walking trails, cycling trails and quad bike trails and now what we need badly are horse trails.’
Cllr Moynihan congratulated Cork County Council on the work they have already done with the group in Beara and the successful 17km of trails laid out on the Beara Bridle Way. The trail is part of an overall project to create a national bridle way on a route along the coast of the Beara Peninsula, crossing six mountain ranges, running along the banks of the River Shannon and through the lake regions of Roscommon and Leitrim.
According to Cllr Moynihan, Horse Sport Ireland in conjunction with Trek Ireland and Trek Trails are working with stakeholders such as Coillte and Bord na Mona to provide safe designated trails for horses around the country.
‘There are huge advantages to having these trails whether it’s from the health side of it but also the safety side which means less horses on the road. There is also huge tourism potential both nationally and internationally and this goes on all over Europe.’
Cllr John O’Sullivan (FG) said the potential for areas with such trails is immense and strongly supported the motion.
‘Cork County Council should liaise with both Coillte and the Department of Agriculture on looking at this,’ said Cllr O’Sullivan. Cllr Danny Collins (Ind), who is chair of the Bantry Cheval Committee, said he sees the dangers of horses on public roads, and trails would take horse riders off the road.
Niall Healy from Cork County Council said the Council recognises the value of horse trails and has had a great working relationship with the Beara Group, which set up Ireland’s first ever horse trail.
‘The Council is happy to engage with trail promoters and will continue to collaborate with and support groups who are working to deliver trails that meet national standards,’ he said.
‘It is also imperative that project proposals can demonstrate that the necessary insurance cover can be put in place to protect private landowners.’
Mr Healy confirmed that the Council is working with the Beara group to secure funding for Phase 2 of this trail which, if secured, would amount to an additional circa €220k investment in the region.