West Cork could benefit from Mizen to Malin ‘Camino’

April 28th, 2022 11:45 AM

By Jackie Keogh

The ambitious walking trail would be a continuous route from Cork to Donegal.

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THE success of the Wild Atlantic Way could be replicated in a continuous walking route from Malin Head to West Cork.

A spokesperson for Fáilte Ireland said the proposed Wild Atlantic Coast Path – which is part of the Programme for Government plan – is still at the preliminary conceptual stages.

She said Fáilte Ireland is to initiate a consultation process with communities along the entire Wild Atlantic Way with a view to creating a continuous walking route, which some people believe could be Ireland’s answer to the Camino de Santiago in Spain.

‘Before a consultation process can be initiated,’ the spokesperson said, ‘Fáilte Ireland will first look at the project concept and establish a methodology to progress the project.

‘Community consultation will,’ she added, ‘form a component of this and the outcome of the National Outdoor Recreation Strategy (NORS), which is currently in development.’

She said this will provide guiding principles to support this project in terms of ‘access to the countryside’ because ‘collaboration with key stakeholders, including private landowners along the route, will be key to progressing this ambitious project.’

Cllr Paul Hayes (Ind), who is a walking enthusiast and guide, believes the foundations for such an undertaking area already in place given ‘the magnificent trails already in place such as the Beara Way, Fastnet Trails, Castlefreke Woods, Drimoleague, Sheep’s Head and Seven Heads Walks, to name a few.

‘With some further development and engagement with key stakeholders, such as farmers and landowners,’ he said, ‘I think we could offer a package to compete with anywhere in the world.

‘An influx of visitors into very rural parts of West Cork would be a huge boost for the local economy,’ he added, ‘with local shops, cafes, restaurants and accommodation providers all benefitting, when ordinarily they might be bypassed in favour of the traditional tourist routes such as the Ring of Kerry.’

‘The reality is that we are competing with the likes of the Camino and the Wales Coastal Path to attract international visitors who enjoy long, uninterrupted, coastal walking and hiking experiences,’ according to West Cork-based communications consultant Siobhán Burke.

‘We do need to think about how it is possible to create similar connections and similar routes here and add to them to existing routes such as the Beara Way, the Sheep’s Head Way, and the Fastnet Trails.’

She also pointed out that the Beara-Breifne Way is Ireland’s longest national waymarked trail. The 500 km route goes from the tip of the Beara Peninsula at Dursey to the Blacklion area of Co Leitrim and Cavan.

It follows the line of the 17th century march of O’Sullivan Beare, the last great chieftain of West Cork and South Kerry area.

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