A new plan aimed at managing, developing and promoting the Kerry Way walking trail into the future was launched by Minister Brendan Griffin in Dromid. The event also saw the launch of a new interactive trails brochure showcasing the stages of the Kerry Way as well as 20 other looped walks around the South Kerry Region – southkerry.ie/trails. The management plan was jointly developed by South Kerry Development Partnership CLG (SKDP) and the Kerry Way Committee and was funded through the Rural Development (LEADER) Programme with support from the Tourism Department of Kerry County Council.
The large attendance in Ionad Na Dromoda were welcomed by Rural Recreation Officer Paddy Casey who manages the Walks Scheme in the region and who was one of the key drivers behind the development of the plan and walks brochure. He also noted that some 40,000 walkers are using the Kerry Way annually at present.
Minister Brendan Griffin paid tribute to all involved and said that the addition of the interactive map feature will provide tourism promoters such as Fáilte Ireland with an excellent opportunity to showcase the region to a worldwide audience and he highlighted the economic importance of the Kerry Way, at over 220Km to the region overall. Minister Griffin also praised the clear, concise, targeted and well thought out objectives contained in the management plan and said that having the agreement and cooperation of all the parties involved will bring about better results for all. The added that the challenges for the tourism industry continue and the Government are continuing to invest in the industry with some €7m in funding in place between now and the end of the year for a marketing campaign focusing on the regional areas of Ireland. The Minister also paid tribute to the landowners involved and said that he would like to see the Walks Scheme expanded to include other walks in the region.
Speaking at the launch, SKDP CEO Noel Spillane paid tribute to all involved in the development of both the management plan and the interactive walks brochure. He noted that SKDP has a long track record and involvement in supporting the Kerry Way with the initial involvement of the Rural Social Scheme participants and in managing and implementing the Walks Scheme since 2008. He also praised the landowners for their cooperation and involvement in the project and said that he looked forward to working with all parties to develop and enhance both the Kerry Way and the other South Kerry Walks into the future.
Cathaoirleach of Kerry County County and Chair of the Local Action Group Cllr. Niall Kelleher described the Kerry Way as, the jewel in the crown of the Kingdom and the most scenic walk in Ireland. He said that the council will do all it can to support the Development Plan and said that both it and the walks brochure show beyond doubt the high potential for the development of outdoor attractions in Kerry. Cllr. Kelleher also noted the strong cooperation between KCC and SKDP in implementing the LEADER programme in Kerry which has brought significant benefits to the region over the last 3 years.
Kerry Way Committee Chairperson Seán O’Suilleabháin gave a brief overview of the origins of the Kerry Way since it all began back in 1978 and noted that one of the key drivers in its success was the introduction of the Walks Scheme in 2008. He also praised the involvement of SKDP and the work they have done on the route down through the years as well as thanking the landowners for their efforts and vision in enabling the route to be developed.
The new interactive map and hard copy brochure features details of all of the stages of the Kerry Way as well as another 20 Loop Walks in South Kerry. It also provides detail as to the terrain and expected duration, level of difficulty . of the route for the walker and walkers can actually see through the 3D interactive feature, the route they will actually take before the walk it. It was developed by Active Me with photographs from Valerie O’Sullivan. The interactive map, which is free to access and download, can be found at http://www.southkerry.ie/trails
The online map of South Kerry’s way marked trails which contains the trail head GPS location, the route map and other important information on each trail using this website page or use the Google Maps App southkerry.ie/trails