Funding secured for Cuilcagh Mountain Experience through cross border leader cooperation project

Published: 5 January 2021

Cavan County Council and Fermanagh and Omagh District Council have successfully secured close to €474,000/£420,000 in LEADER funding through a cross border cooperation project. Additional funding of twenty five percent will be provided by the Councils to fund works in their respective jurisdiction.

This collaborative project is aimed at enhancing the visitor experience around Cuilcagh mountain, a focal point of the Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark (MACUGG).

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 with a concentration of attractions including the Marble Arch Caves, Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail, popularised as the ‘Stairway to Heaven’, and Tullydermot Falls.

This project will deliver 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 will include upgrades of existing amenity sites, car parking, signage and trail development.

In addition to physical infrastructure, this LEADER project will facilitate the development of a new brand identity for the MACUGG including the delivery of a PR & Marketing Plan. Furthermore, a new website will be delivered to support promotion and marketing of the Geopark, including Cuilcagh mountain.

The final project element includes 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 MACUGG in driving sustainable economic development within the UNESCO designated Geopark.

Chair of the Fermanagh & Omagh Local Action Group, Cllr Allan Rainey said

“I am delighted that Fermanagh & Omagh Local Action Group have invested in this Co-operation Project.  The partnership between the Councils has enabled the exchange and sharing of ideas and experiences, ensuring a dynamic and efficient approach.  Cuilcagh, and the surrounding visitor attractions, have become very popular destinations for visitors and tourists and these developments will further enhance their experience”.

Work has commenced across all project elements with an expected completion date for March 2021. Commenting on the cooperative project, Cllr John Paul Feeley, Chair of the Geopark Committee said; “Protecting this special landscape whilst making Cuilcagh accessible to the public for their enjoyment is our shared objective. The collaboration between all stakeholders in securing this funding is a wonderful example of what can be achieved through cross border cooperation. When project works are completed, it will not only improve 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”.

For further information, please visit: www.marblearchcavesgeopark.com

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.

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