Eddie Noonan and family look out at the view from the Cobbs Road section of the walk
A VOLUNTARY group which has re-established scenic walking routes has brought a new lease of life to an often forgotten corner of West Limerick.
Often passed over by many tourists heading down the N21 or N69 to Co Kerry, the Broadford/Ashford area is one of the most beautiful and scenic parts of Limerick.
A community project, chaired by Broadford man Sean Neenan has brought a series of neglected trails around the Mullaghareirk mountain range back into use, delivering economic benefits to the area.
Set up in 2012, the voluntary committee has produced storyboards and guided walks around six routes in the hills above the two villages, with the trails running between 6km and 20km.
While guided walks are offered on the second Sunday of the month – with alternating starts between Broadford and Ashford – the up-to-date storyboards and waymarkers ensure that outside these times, it will be hard for anyone to get lost!
Broadford/Ashford Walking Trails is the Limerick Leader’s representative in the annual Get Involved contest, a national initiative aimed at recognising sustainable enterprises.
And this is exactly what the local group believe they are providing to the parishes.
In a submission to the Get Involved judges – who will consider the application fully next week – the group states: “Our project shows our holistic application of sustainability principles. Our community sees many advantages in the trails, and each aspect of the benefits of the trails are interconnected. With such a huge emphasis on mental health and wellbeing, and exercise being a very important factor relating to these, the trails are there for everyone to use on an ongoing basis. The community is caring more for its environment by enjoying the flora and fauna and learning as they walk with the informative storyboards.”
The project marries the need for sustainability with an appreciation for the environment.
On top of this, it has improved the atmosphere in what are already thriving communities in Ashford and Broadford.
“Maintaining social contact with our neighbours is very important to us in the West Limerick area. The first co-operative creamery opened in Ireland by the co-operative movement was in the Dromcollogher/Broadford area in 1889 and strong links like these continued to be carried out. Unfortunately in recent times, the area has suffered a number of factory closures, particularly in the area of poultry processing, and the amalgamation of large dairy factories. As a consequence, pro-active and inclusive roles have been taken on by various members of the community to build local resilience and generate new livelihoods.”
“The walks will be there for generations to come, while being used by all age groups now. They are of huge advantage to the local school as they have been awarded Green and Active flags.”
The group hopes being part of the contest will give some much needed attention to the area, which was hailed by RTE’s John Creedon as “A beautiful part of the world with fantastic views over the valley floor”.