Newry and Mourne District Council received funding from the European Regional Development Fund, INTERREG IVA Programme through the CASA Project. This project is managed by CASA (Castleblaney/South Armagh) Partnership who secured £1.3million funding development. Part of this funding is allocated for building a mountain trail from the Slieve Gullion Forest Drive to the summit of Slieve Gullion the home of a 6000 year old passage tomb known as the Cailleagh Berra’s house.
Before work started the trail was extremely wet and boggy with the erosion getting worse, up to 10m across on some sections. In order to stem the erosion there will be a trail laid out in order to halt this erosion. The work will be environmentally friendly and cater for as many user groups as possible. The plans went out to public consultation before commencement and Newry and Mourne Council received some feedback that is now integral to the project.
The work started in June and is to take about 8 months. Marian O’Rourke, Project Officer for CASA said, “The Slieve Gullion Pathway is making great strides with plans to complete by end of 2012. We are delighted that this ‘walkers trail’ will open up a new world to many people…the summit of Slieve Gullion. This is going to allow better access and bring more people to experience the beautiful Slieve Gullion summit where they will enjoy breathtaking views! Slieve Gullion is becoming a ‘place to visit’ for day trippers, walkers, hikers, local families, young and old, it is great to see that whilst the facilities are being put to good use, this progress is also boosting trade in the local economy.”
With the summer being such a washout Oliver Hearty and his team took full advantage of the good weather last weekend and contracted in Irish Helicopters to lift 1 tonne bags of material up to the upper parts of Slieve Gullion. Helicopters are used to get the heavy granite stone to where it is needed. If any other type of transport was used it would tear up the very fragile peat and heather ecosystem.
Irish Helicopters are a very professional outfit and without them the project would have taken a lot longer and been a lot more intrusive to this Special Area of Conservation. Helicopters are an invaluable tool for this type of remote working environment.
Darren Rice Ring of Gullion Officer said, “It’s great to see the work progressing, especially when we have all been working on it for so long. You can follow the progress of the trail by visiting www.ringofgullion.org or by liking us on Facebook, just search Ring of Gullion AONB.”