Minister Michael Ring
Kilkenny boasts three walking trails – out of a total of 39 nationwide - all of which are supported by 1,905 landowners across the country who receive total payments in the region of €1.8m for their work on the scheme.
The information was published in response to questions from Sinn Féin’s Martin Kenny who asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development about his plans to increase the number of rural recreation officers employed by his Department by appointing one in each county.
Minister Michael Ring’s Department administers the Walks Scheme which facilitates the development and maintenance of many of Ireland’s walking trails.
The scheme involves landholders as key participants in the provision of high quality walking trails, by contracting them to undertake maintenance work on sections of National Way Marked Ways and other priority walks that traverse their lands.
Minister Ring said: “Participating landholders receive modest payments for maintenance work undertaken, in line with agreed work plans.”
The Walks Scheme is currently operating on 39 trails supported by 1,905 landowners who receive total payments in the region of €1.8m for their work on the scheme.
It is a national scheme involving all landholders on National Waymarked Ways, Looped Walking Routes and Heritage Routes, along with other trails that have been approved by the National Trails Office.
It ensures that National Waymarked Ways and priority walks that traverse public and private lands are maintained and accessible. Participants in the Walks Scheme undertake to complete the enhancement and maintenance of the trails.
According to data published on the Department’s website, Kilkenny boasts three such trails under the scheme and they are: O’Gormans Lane, Freshford loop, Nore Valley.
The Minister added: “The Scheme is largely implemented on the Department’s behalf by 12 Rural Recreation Officers in counties Clare, Donegal, Kilkenny, Wicklow, Kerry, Sligo, Mayo, Cork, Tipperary, Galway, Laois and Roscommon.
"These Officers are employed by Local Development Companies who administer the Walks Scheme, together with a host of ancillary initiatives under Service Level Agreements with my Department.
“The Programme for Partnership Government and the Action Plan for Rural Development include a commitment to increase the number of trails covered by the Walks Scheme and my officials are working towards this objective.
“I intend to initiate a comprehensive review of the scheme’s operation this year in order to determine how best to expand the scheme and maximise the impact of the resources available to me.
“This review will inform any decisions to be made regarding bringing any new walks or Rural Recreation Officers into the operation of the scheme.”