Cuilcagh Lakelands UNESCO Global Geopark launches new sustainable tourism recreational infrastructure project at Killykeeghan Nature Reserve

28th October 2022

Killykeeghan Launch (1)

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and Cavan County Council have successfully delivered Rural Development Funding Leader funding through a cross border cooperation project known as The ‘Cuilcagh Experience’ Project.

This collaborative project is aimed at enhancing the visitor experience around Cuilcagh mountain, a focal point of Cuilcagh Lakelands UNESCO Global Geopark.

Both Councils are responsible for the joint management of the Geopark and share the common commitment to enhance the visitor experience around Cuilcagh mountain which has seen significant growth in visitor numbers in recent years with a concentration of attractions including the Marble Arch Caves, Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail, and Tullydermot Falls.

This project has delivered significant improvements through infrastructural developments including upgrades to the existing visitor amenity at Killykeeghan Nature Reserve and additional car parking spaces.  Further upgrades at Altchcullion Viewpoint, Tullydermott Falls, Bellavalley and Cuilcagh Lowlands Walking Trail have included upgrades of existing amenity sites, car parking, signage and trail development all adding to the sustainable recreational development of the area.

In addition to physical infrastructure, this LEADER project has importantly facilitated the development of a new brand identity for Cuilcagh Lakelands (formally Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark) including the delivery of a PR & Marketing Plan. Furthermore, a new website has been delivered to support promotion and marketing of the Geopark, including Cuilcagh mountain.

The final project element included the delivery of a pilot Sustainability Training Programme to businesses located within the Geopark. Engagement with the local business community is a key priority for the Geopark in driving sustainable economic development within the UNESCO designated Geopark. A total of 10 businesses from Cavan and Fermanagh participated in this piolet programme. Due to its success a new programme has been launched in recent weeks with over 17 participants with a key focus on energy reduction for businesses and regenerative tourism.

Speaking at the event, Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council Cllr Barry McElduff said:

“Sustainable Tourism and heritage-based initiatives are undoubtedly a significant driver within the District boosting the local economy, generating jobs and instilling civic pride.

They also create a sense of cultural exchange between visitors and locals through the sharing of knowledge, stories and experiences.

The ‘Cuilcagh Mountain Experience Project’ epitomises this ethos and is an excellent example of what can be achieved through effective collaborative partnership working in this instance namely by Fermanagh and Omagh Local Action Group (FOLAG) Ltd, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council (FODC) and our neighbouring Local Action Group in Cavan and Cavan County Council (CCC).

Speaking at the event Cllr John Paul Feeley, Chair of the Geopark Committee stated:

“Protecting this special landscape whilst making Cuilcagh accessible to the public for their enjoyment is our shared objective. The collaboration between all stakeholders in delivering this project is a wonderful example of what can be achieved through cross border cooperation. This funding has not only improved the marketing of Cuilcagh as a visitor attraction but it will greatly enhance the overall visitor experience to the Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark”.

This is a LEADER cooperation project between Fermanagh and Omagh Local Action Group/ Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and Cavan Local Action Group. This element of the project is part funded under Priority 6 (LEADER) of the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and the European Union. We would like to acknowledge the assistance of County Cavan Local Community Development Committee (LCDC), Cavan County Council, Breffni Integrated CLG, Department of Rural and Community Development, the EU and EAFRD in part-funding this project. Funded by the Irish Government Under the LEADER Programme 2014-2020.

This project was a collaboration between Cavan Local Action Group/Cavan County Council and Fermanagh and Omagh Local Action Group/Fermanagh & Omagh District Council.

Financial Support provided by Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (Northern Ireland) and Department of Rural and Community Development (Republic of Ireland)