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03 Jul 2022

Limerick nature trail blighted by vandals for second time

Limerick nature trail blighted by vandals for second time

Some of the vandalised signage boards

GARDAI are investigating the senseless vandalism of message boards on a County Limerick nature trail which has left staff and walkers "deeply dismayed".

It occurred on the Ballyhoura Nature Trail near Ardpatrick. The amenity, particular popular with families, runs alongside the mountain bike trails. It is a short 2km looped woodland walk that skirts the Ballyhoura hillsides from the Coillte trailhead car park near Ardpatrick.

Efforts to enhance the nature trail were undertaken in 2020 with the installation of new nature signage. A total of 19 signs, incorporating native wildlife facts and pictures designed for families were placed all along the trail route.

At the end of March this year, in what is the second incident of this type, over half of the new signage boards were intentionally vandalised and destroyed.

Ballyhoura Heritage and Environment chairperson, John Kennedy said it is disheartening to see that for the second time the signage has been vandalised.

"We ask the public to be respectful of our public amenities and report anything to us or local gardai,” said Mr Kennedy.

Padraig Casey, CEO of Ballyhoura Development CL, said: "We continue to work with all partners and funders to leverage investment into the mountain bike trails and the region on an ongoing basis for community and tourism benefit. It is imperative  that our natural amenities be respected."

Local gardaí have been notified and are investigating. Trailhead CCTV footage will be monitored regularly to stop anti-social and criminal behaviour. People who notice anything suspicious are asked to please report it to gardai in Kilmallock or Doneraile. Ballyhoura is also interested in talking to any local companies who make vandal proof signage as a result of this experience.

The mountain bike trails and walks have seen millions invested in the last number of years with ongoing improvement works to the trails. The trails have attracted thousands of people from near and far to the area bringing much economic benefit to the region. The trail centre has hosted national and international events and continues to be a much-used facility. Ballyhoura Development do "not condone this type of vandalism and ask the public to support us to continue to provide spaces like this to enjoy and explore outdoors".

The Ballyhoura region has gained widespread recognition as an outdoor tourism destination, with 21 looped walks, mountain bike trails, Doneraile court and wildlife park, Griston Bog outdoor classroom, garden experiences and the newly opened Annesgrove gardens to name but a few. The new website visitballyhoura.com has seen over 110,000 users in 2021 alone. Tourism is a key driver to the local economy.

Ballyhoura Development CLG and their partners ask that "the public be respectful of the experiences on offer in our communities. We ask that we work together respectfully and sustainably to keep where we live special for ourselves today and for our communities tomorrow".

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