Pat O'Toole, Turloch McGovern, Uruemu Adejinmi, PJ Reilly, Gerry Warnock, Minister Ring, Pauric Brady, Paddy Mahon, Gary Murtagh, Michael Carrigy Picture: Shelley Corcoran
Longford County Council Regeneration Department welcomed Minister Michael Ring, Minister for Rural and Community Development, on Thursday, March 05, to officially open the Drumlish to Monaduff section of the North Longford Rebel Trail.
The project was funded under the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme, administered by the Department of Rural and Community Development, under Project Ireland 2040 and implemented by Longford County Council Regeneration Department.
Minister Ring was welcomed on the day by chief executive of Longford County Council, Paddy Mahon, who praised the Minister’s investment in the county over the past number of years. Minister Ring, when addressing attendees, reiterated his commitment to Longford county, pointing to his track record over the past two and a half years.
“If I am still minister when all of this is negotiated, I won’t be found wanting for Longford.” he vowed.
“In two and a half years from my department alone, Longford got €16,934,887. €17m to any county is no small fee and I was proud to be minister that delivered that to Longford.”
Minister Ring then praised the work by Longford County Council, Cllr Brady and the generosity of local landowners which made this project possible.
He stated: “I want to pay tribute to the people that own the land and that made it available. I want to say on behalf of the Government, the community and county, thank you for working with the council and making your land available, because this would not have been possible without you.
“I want to compliment everyone that was involved and in particular, Cllr Paraic Brady and Cathaoirleach Micheál Carrigy. They put in a lot of work and a lot of pressure on me.”
The opening of this section of the trail is the first element to be provided off-road. The trail also presents the first phase in the linking of the two ends of the parish of Drumlish and Ballinamuck. The launch of the Drumlish Ballinamuck Integrated Action Plan also took place on the day, a plan developed by the local community for the improvement of the local area under the headings of social, economic and physical development.
Minister Ring said of the plan: “A lot of work was put into the Drumlish Ballinamuck integration plan and all I can say is, I know you have a lot of plans in here from 2018-2022. You have started the work but there’s a lot more to be done. I know you won’t be found wanting.
“To have so many people turning out from the community, that speaks for itself. The rural aspect provides the funding, the community is the most important part of it. If you don’t have communities working together with the council and elected representatives, nothing will happen.” he added.
Cathaoirleach Micheál Carrigy thanked Minister Ring for his continued support.
He said: “Minister Ring has been a very good friend to Longford. I want to thank you on behalf of the people of Longford for all of your support over the last number of years.
“This project is important in the development of our tourism infrastructure within the county, opening up our national amenities and providing greater opportunities for locals.
“It fits in with Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands and is an important element in the infrastructure enhancement and development of the rebel trail throughout North Longford.”
Cllr Paraic Brady, who was one of many involved in the project, noted that this is only the beginning.
“This is the start of something major for north Longford, not just Drumlish, but also Ballinamuck, Colmcille, Dromard, Granard and Ballinalee. It is a very ambitious project going forward, but this is only one small step.” he said.
“This is the start of something major for north Longford. We are looking forward to what the future holds.”
Cllr Brady praised the local community for pushing ahead with the plans, before thanking landowners.
“I only pushed the project forward. This is the brainchild of a lot of people in the parish who said they couldn’t access the park and had nowhere safe to cycle and walk. We came up with this plan to link the parishes together.
“I’d like to thank the landowners. Without their help, this simply wouldn’t have happened. They were the key to the whole thing and going forward, they are going to be key to the rest of it.
“It is a decent run/walk and it is safe, which is the most important thing.”
Cllr Turlough McGovern echoed these sentiments, before praising Cllr Brady’s involvement in the project.
He stated: “I must praise the landowners for their generosity and of course Paraic Brady for all of the hard work he put into it, not to mention the Longford regeneration team and Longford County Council.
“It is an opening for the rest of us to maybe start up something around Granard.”