By Kieran O’Mahony
IT was only fitting that the members of the Inniscarra Lake Tourism Development Company (ILTDC) were honoured recently for their tremendous work in developing the Coachford Greenway. Their relentless dedication in developing this world-class facility saw them winning the Cork County Council Community and Voluntary award for Cork South at the Lord Mayor’s Community Awards for 2015. They were also singled out for bringing the 4th World Feeder Fishing Championships to Cork last summer, which saw teams from 25 different nations compete in the competition.
Not wishing to rest on their laurels, the members of the committee have already put in a bid to be the host venue for the World Youth Angling Championships in 2017. This event should attract around 16 countries, each bringing three teams of junior anglers in the categories of Under 14, Under 18 and Under 21.
‘We already put forward a proposal for it at the last congress in Mexico and the fact that we hosted the Feeder Fishing Championships last summer should hopefully stand to us. We’re hoping to find out either in November or March next year if our bid is successful,’ said Tommy Lawton, PRO of ILTDC and a member of the National Coarse Fishing Federation of Ireland (NCFFI).
‘Last year’s event was a huge success despite the weather and we had Sky Sports broadcasting a programme about it as well as RTE and TG4 there.’
There’s no doubt the development of the 2.8km Coachford Greenway has given an economic boost to the area which is sure to attract more visitors as word spreads about such a world-class facility in the area. Costing €133,000, the project which is open almost twelve months was also funded by Cork County Council, Avondhu/Blackwater Partnership, Failte Ireland, Inland Fisheries Ireland and Coarse Fishing Ireland. The ESB has also entered into a 25-year licence agreement with the ILTDC as the Greenway is located on their land.
‘This facility is there for everyone to use. It’s a walkway for those who want to walk or even cycle and it also gives access to anglers who want to use the lake. Locals and visitors have certainly taken to it and it is being used morning to night. It’s a great flat surface which is ideal for jogging, walking or running.’
The ILTDC was set up in 2012 following an approach from the National Coarse Fishing Federation of Ireland (NCFFI) about the possibility of setting up such a facility. The members of the committee who formed the ILTDC are Rob Allen, John Hogan, Eileen Martin, Martin O’ Mahony, Matt Sheehan, Mary and Colum Cronin, Breda Condon, Trev and Debbie Platt, Peter Turner, Linda Atkinson, Der Casey, Pat Dalton and Tommy himself.
‘When the idea was first suggested people probably thought we were mad with this idea of bringing a world angling event to the area and the desire to develop at least a 2 km stretch of Inniscarra lake providing access to the shoreline. We picked out a section of the lake that we thought would be a good spot and once we formed the company we realised that it was turning into something bigger than we imagined. As volunteers to a new development we had to start applying for grants to different bodies and it did involve a lot of paper work but we got there in the end with the help of Cork County Council and other organisations.’
The hard work paid off and the community now has a multi-purpose amenity, which provides access to the lake for a range of activities that include angling, walking, jogging and rowing spectactors.
At the recent awards ceremony County Mayor, Cllr Alan Coleman praised the members of the ILTDC for their vision and belief in the project, and the manner in which they set about achieving their goal and the way that they delivered the finished product.
‘What this group has done for the Lee Valley area and for the economy of Cork is immense. Not only have they created an inland fishing facility to rival any of those across Europe, but they have also in the process created an outstanding amenity for the Coachford and Mid Cork region,’ said Cllr Coleman.
‘This group of volunteers drawn from various backgrounds have made sure that a tourist industry will be embedded in the community for many years to come and will see many overseas visitors from the UK, Holland and other parts of the continent come to Cork to stay here and fish our waters.’
The reservoir is attracting anglers from all over the globe at present and fishing has been good during the recent festivals. Hundreds of walkers and runners are using the Greenway on a daily and weekly basis and the numbers on the walkway are growing every week. It is expected that during the summer months it will be particularly busy at all times during the day.