Members of the team visiting the walk.

Corrydonlan Bog Walkway feasibility study launched

A feasibility study on the Corrydonlan bog walkway aimed at preserving native bog habitat and increasing ecotourism, was launched in Rathowen Community Centre on Saturday last, October 23. The main bog walk can already be accessed at the Ballinalack Inny River car park, and the plan is to develop a walkway next year as part of Ireland’s climate and national development plan 2021-2017.

The walkway will take in Rathowen, Ballinalack and Streete, and some of Westmeath’s most important native bog habitat, a haven for wildlife and biodiversity, and a critical carbon sink.

Rathowen Community Development and partners launched the feasibility study, carried out by Rethinking Rural Ireland, a social enterprise that helps towns and villages to regroup through innovation projects.

They assembled an experienced team of environmental, planning, and communications specialists to complete the study and carried out focus groups and discussions as part of their research.

The proposed trail route options presented as part of the study will give locals and visitors an informative experience of a unique bogland environment and feature rich historical sites and monuments, such as ring forts, standing stones, and medieval castle ruins.

The Corrydonlan Bog Walkway feasibility study was launched on Saturday night in Rathowen.

As one of Europe’s last raised bog peatland habitats, this area of Westmeath is home to 100 native and endemic flora, fauna and birds, and the development of the Corrydonlan Bog Walk will help to protect and preserve those.

Head of Rethinking Rural Ireland, Shane Cogan, says: "This site is key to over 16 nationally protected plant and bird species, and acts as a climate change sponge for helping Ireland meet its commitments on the international Climate Change Agreement, signed in Paris in 2015.

"Peatlands play a significant role in the natural and cultural heritage of Ireland. The Rathowen Ballinalack Streete area is internationally recognised as a Ramsar-type site and is of global, national and local importance in terms of our ancient and modern heritage," Mr Cogan said.

Local liaison officer for the bog walkway project, Jerry Nally, says: "We’re delighted to launch this feasibility study. The health and environmental benefits for visitors are plentiful, alongside raising awareness of the natural treasures as well as the global environmental challenges we face. We’re looking forward to welcoming people from far and wide to enjoy everything we have to offer."

RRI was established in October 2020, as part of the UCD Innovation Academy. Its founder, Shane Cogan, is a Masters educated human rights/ humanitarian aid worker with a track record of securing large multi-million euro funded technical proposals over 15 years.