Last Friday may not have been the perfect day to exhibit the county’s heritage sites, but Minister Simon Harris enjoyed his tour nonetheless.
And while the Minister of State at the Department of Finance, PER, and Taoiseach with Special Responsibility for the OPW, Public procurement, and International Banking (incl. IFSC) was forced to don his wellingtons to view the famous Motte in Granard and stand under a large brolly at Saints Island in Newtowncashel. Thankfully the rain had subsided slightly by the time he reached the much admired Corlea Visitor’s Centre in Kenagh, where he was treated to a powerpoint presentation of the tourism plans for the county, which the local Wetlands and Heritage group assured him would not cost his department “the earth”.
The Minister also stopped off at the Shannon Callows in Lanesboro, where he met with local area representatives and members of the local anglers association.
“I have had a very extensive tour of Longford and it has been very informative,” Minister Harris said. “In my job you need to be able to visualise things in order to understand and I have been able to do that here today.”
He went on talk about his trip to the Motte in Granard and admired the “very evident” sense of community spirit that was there.
“I was really inspired by the community in Granard,” he added. “They really have a ‘can do’ attitude and that is really heartening to see.” They are a community with heart and vision and I am certainly willing to help in any way that I can.”
And before he turned his thoughts to Corlea Trackway in Kenagh, Minister Harris confirmed that negotiations with his department in respect of the project in Granard would continue and that help and support would be made available to the people of Granard.
“No matter how much money the State has or hasn’t got, we can’t do everything and we rely very much on community,” he continued. “I will certainly do everything I can and will work with Deputy James Bannon to help you to achieve your aims. The wonderful thing about the Corlea Centre is that you have a massive capital asset here that has not really been utilised. I am really excited about the tourism potential and to see first hand the harnessing of their tourism assets.”
He then added, “What we need to do now is work out how we get people here to Longford to see and experience these wonderful sites. How do we get people to the Motte in Granard? How do we get people down to the bogs and trackway here in Kenagh? Yes, the potential is there and certainly the will is there - the sense of volunteering is very strong in Co Longford and is there for everyone to see. Together, we can get things done.”