Minister for Rural Development Heather Humphreys has unveiled a strategic partnership between the Department of Agriculture and Bord na Móna, aimed at promoting outdoor recreation activities on Irish bogs. The partnership aims to revitalise towns and villages in the midlands and boost tourism in the region.

During a visit to Co Offaly this week, Minister Humphreys announced the new initiative, highlighting the increasing number of visitors choosing to explore the midlands as part of the "our rural future" and "hidden heartlands" initiatives.

Speaking on the partnership, Minister Humphreys stated: “This initiative, in conjunction with Bord na Móna, is about capitalising on the huge tourism potential in the midlands. My Department is already progressing an excellent strategy with Coillte in terms of developing our forest parks – places that are great locations for families and tourists alike to visit.”

Existing strategy

Building on the success of the existing strategy with Coillte in developing forest parks, Minister Humphreys emphasised the importance of converting the boglands into recreational areas, stating: “This is one of a wide range of initiatives we are undertaking to develop our outdoor amenities and which is central to the recently published 'embracing Ireland's outdoors: national outdoor recreation strategy'.”

The minister announced funding of €50,000 for the development of a recreation strategy for Bord na Móna, which will focus on expanding and enhancing the existing recreation facilities.

Ger Breen, head of land and habitats at Bord na Móna, added: “This funding represents a major milestone in realising the Bord na Móna vision of rehabilitated peatlands existing side by side with renewable energy assets and sensitively developed, biodiversity and natural spaces for public enjoyment.”

“The development of recreational spaces within our estate will provide both health and wellbeing benefits for our local communities and support the growth of sustainable tourism within the midlands, helping to regenerate the local economy,” he said.