Youghal’s reputation as ‘Ireland’s Finest Coastal Resort’ will be significantly enhanced with the completion of the first phase (395 metres) of the long-anticipated 2000mm-wide mobility-disabled access boardwalk running from Youghal Front Strand to Claycastle. The route is set to be completed by the end of January 2012. (The second phase of the development will see the completion of the link between Claycastle and Redbarn).The boardwalk consists of hardwood timber deck supported on piled foundations, not requiring a railing, and once complete will span 1926 metres, eventually forming part of the National Coastal Walking Route.
Financed by Failte Ireland (under the Tourism Capital Investment Programme 2007-2013) in partnership with Youghal Town Council, the boardwalk will promote and enhance Youghal’s considerable ecological resources in a sustainable manner. The completion of the walkway will benefit both domestic and international visitors to Youghal, but also local Youghal residents, providing a safe and well marked walk-way for recreational use. The amenity will further enhance the resort’s three blue flag beaches. It is expected that families of all ages (the key target market for the area) staying in the Quality Hotel & Self Catering Resort in Redbarn will be provided with direct pedestrian access to the town.
In 2008, The Youghal Socio-Economic Development Group (YSEDG) commissioned consultants to prepare a report on the feasibility of an eco-friendly walkway from Youghal Town Centre to Ballyvergan Marsh and onto Redbarn. A boardwalk was considered the most appropriate method of providing controlled access to the route, having a low impact on the environment which would be accessible, for the most of its length, to wheelchairs and push chairs. In 2010 Failte Ireland indicated that the proposed project would comply with the terms of their capital funding and in turn the YSEDG undertook the successful fund development of the first phase of the project which is in the jurisdiction of Youghal Town Council. Failte Ireland allocated 75% of the costs of the project, totalling €137,434 with Youghal Town Council financing the remainder. Commenting on the project, Fiona Buckley, Head of Operations South West stated: “Investing in our tourism offering is critical to ensuring we are able to compete with other holiday destinations across the globe - offering visitors to Ireland a memorable holiday experience, which includes high quality activities and attractions. As a national tourism development authority we are continually working to ensure we do just that and this development here is Youghal is a great example of what can be done and further adds to the great visitor experience that is already available in the South West.”
Following a public tender process, Byrne Plant Hire & Civil Engineering Contractors were awarded the contract for the project which got underway in October 2011. It is expected that following on from the completion of Phase I of the project (Youghal Town Centre to Claycastle) in January 2012 Phase II of the development of this walking route linking Claycastle with Redbarn would get underway. Failte Ireland has indicated their support in financing capital works for Phase II following the completion of Phase I subject to availability of funding. Phase II of the project is under the remit of Cork County Council and is the most ecologically sensitive and challenging in terms of access. An ecological impact assessment and the appropriate assessment screening on this section of the proposed walkway are currently underway.
Speaking ahead of the opening of the boardwalk, Town Clerk Liam Ryan said: “The delivery of this Boardwalk shows the commitment of Youghal Town Council to improving the tourism infrastructure of the Town, and is a further step forward in maximising the potential of our natural tourism assets for the economic benefit of business in Youghal. We will be actively encouraging Cork County Council to complete Phase 2 of the Boardwalk Project linking Redbarn and the Quality Hotel to the town. These linkages will benefit substantially the Strand area of the Town and help to develop further sustainable tourism jobs for the Town.”
Crucially, the environmental impact of the walkway will be minimal with the boardwalk providing a ‘buffer zone’ to help combat soil erosion. Always central to the development of the boardwalk were that Youghal’s considerable ecological resources would be promoted and enhanced in a sustainable manner having a particular regard for Ballyvergan Marsh. The route traverses a number of natural habitats, thereby offering opportunities for the identification of various species of birds and plants as well as highlighting the value of biodiversity and the ecological value of the marshlands. The completed walkway will aim to build on this natural resource and promote a greater awareness of the natural and cultural heritage of the area in particular among international visitors to the town.
The potential for the development of educational tourism is significant, as the route will offer the possibility of developing a number of themes including urban development, ecology, geology and coastal processes.
The completion of the first phase of the project comes in the wake of the announcement that Youghal has secured a number of escorted tour series for 2012 and 2013 from CIE Tours International. Investment in heritage and tourism infrastructure is finally beginning to reap rewards for Youghal as the town delivers on the needs of its two key tourism markets – the cultural/heritage tourism visitor and the domestic family market. These visitors will in turn contribute to the boosting of Youghal’s economic fortunes in the years ahead.
Date: Sun Jan 29 2012
Owner: John Hennessy
Size: 9 items
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