Local TD, Denis Naughten has welcomed reports by Centre Parcs UK that it is to develop a tourism project in Ballymahon, Co. Longford which has huge potential to boost tourism in County Roscommon.
“Centre Parcs is a major tourism operator and its plan for the site in Ballymahon, will see over 100,000 visitors come to the region annually. This equivalent to the number of tourists that visit Killarney, Co. Kerry each year”.
“A key project to ensure that County Roscommon benefits from this announcement is the establishment of a national wetlands park on the Mount Dillon cutaway bogs between Sliabh Ban and the River Shannon”.
“Presently, Bord na Mona is in the process of pulling out of peat extraction on 18,000 acres of bogland just north of Lough Ree in both Counties Roscommon & Longford and this provides County Roscommon with potential to capitalise on the Ballymahon announcement.
“The wetland park project has huge potential to attract tourists, particularly those who will visit Ballymahon, as the project is directly linked to the Mount Dillon bog complex, by the new cycleway along the Royal Canal, which comes as far as Termonbarry on the River Shannon”.
“A feasibility study on the wetland park project has already been conducted in conjunction with the local community and UCD and there is now an opportunity to extend the current cycleway via the Mount Dillon bogs, from Termonbarry to Silabh Ban and on to the towns of Strokestown and Lanesborough/Ballyleague”.
“It is important to note that at the moment 700,000 tourists participate in hiking and cross country walking in this country, something that Roscommon has in abundance. The Ballymahon development in conjunction with the Mount Dillon cutaway bog project, have the potential to bring tens of thousands of tourists to all parts of County Roscommon”
“A similar project at Lough Boora in County Offaly has already proving to be a great success and it is now imperative that we keep the Ballymahon tourists in the local area and not just see this as a base for tourists to visit costal attractions”
“I have already received the endorsement of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Environment for this bog project and the local committee have presented the proposal to the Department of Arts, Heritage & Gaeltacht.
“Opening up these 18,000 acres just north of Lough Ree as a wetland park would not only be a major international draw for both eco and recreational tourism but would also have an added benefit of being able to extend the flood plain of the River Shannon during the winter period to provide enhanced water storage between Lough Allen and Lough Ree, thereby alleviating the extent of flooding on the River Shannon” concluded Denis Naughten.