Coillte, in partnership with Sligo County Council, are pleased to announce that the Coolaney Mountain Bike Trail (MTB) project has moved one important step closer to becoming a reality, with Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring turning the sod at Coolaney forest yesterday.
It is predicted that the project will give a major boost to existing and new local businesses and it is important that accommodation packages, food and drink offerings and links to the many other attractions are developed in tandem with the trails. The MTB project will also complement the many existing walking routes, road cycling activity and the festival activities in the Sligo area. It further reinforces the growing reputation of Sligo county as a destination for active outdoor recreation activities.
Phase 1 of the project’s initiation will consist of 16.5km of mountain bike trails, in Sligo’s beautiful Ox Mountains. Funding of the €840,285 project is under the Department of Rural and Community Development’s 2017 Outdoor Recreational Infrastructure Scheme and was secured by Sligo County Council. In addition, Sligo County Council secured €200,000 from REDZ 2016 to assist in bringing this important tourism and amenity project to fruition.
Planning permission is also in place for a National Scale MTB Centre in Coolaney forest which, when complete, will see over 70km of trails. This is an exciting flagship project for the North-west Region and will create sustainable jobs as mountain biking is a year-round activity and not weather dependent.
Speaking at the event Coillte, Daithi deForge, Coillte’s Head of Recreation said that; “The Coolaney national scale MTB system, when taken in conjunction with the existing very successful trails system in the surrounding regions of Ballyhoura, Ticknock, Dublin Mountains and the new trails system at Slieve Blooms in County Offaly and Laois will make Ireland very attractive destination for international mountain biking tourists.”
The Cathaoirleach of Sligo County Council, Councillor Martin Baker also in attendance highlighted the positive impact the centre will have on the local economy; “This major project will be welcomed by the local community, the fact that the facility is located directly on the Wild Atlantic Way is very apt, given its focus on active outdoor activity.”
Chief Executive of Sligo County Council and Chair of Sligo Tourism, Ciaran Hayes, also added; “The project could not have progressed to this very exciting stage without the very close co-operation between local authority and Coillte and we at all stages noted the tremendous support for the project from the local community and elected representatives in the locality.”
The current phase will open to the public in Spring 2019 and further details will be published nearer the time. No access will be allowed until the trails are officially opened, to allow construction activities to continue safely.
The involvement of Coolaney Development and the Northwest MTB Club has been vital to ensuring the early design and feasibility studies were completed to finalise the project. Both organisations play a key role in growing and encouraging the development of the visitor services and are invaluable to bringing the new trails to life for visitors. The build includes the need for bike hire and repair, accommodation and food and beverage services in the local village and surrounding area.
Located on the Wild Atlantic Way, the Sligo Way and the EuroVelo Route 1(EV1) route passes along the boundary of the trail centre, making it a potential National Cycling Centre for road/MTB enthusiasts and an adventure hub for outdoor tourism.
Damien McGuinn of Coolaney Development Company hopes that; “The centre will provide local villages and communities the opportunity for rural tourism enterprise and employment also providing a valuable sporting amenity for the local mountain bike clubs who have been heavily involved in the project and an active outdoor recreational resource for the entire Northwest.”
Bryan Conlon of Northwest Mountain Bike Club stated that; “The off-road trails will provide the perfect facilities for running national mountain bike events for one of the world’s most exhilarating and enjoyable sports, while also delivering a unique tourism product that perfectly aligns with Sligo’s adventure capital reputation. Just like our world-class surfers, we hope to see some international level mountain bikers emerge from Sligo in the following years. It’s fantastic to get this project realized!”
For more information, please visit www.coillte.ie