220 Breathtaking events take place around the country to celebrate National Trails Days

The hills, forests and coasts of Ireland were alive and kicking yesterday as over 220 free events took place to celebrate National Trails Day 2011. The purpose of the event is to encourage people of all age and ability to enjoy the great Irish outdoors available to all 365 days a year. This year an estimated 10,000 people took part in events, on trails in all the nooks and crannies of Ireland’s forests, hills, mountains and rivers.

National Trails Day is an all-Ireland event organised by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, Coillte, the National Trails Office of the Irish Sports Council and Fáilte Ireland. Events to choose from included a children’s treasure hunt in Dublin’s renowned Hell Fire Club, an edible trail on Cape Clear island and a High Nelly trail in Laois. Conservationists and canoeists alike could all find something to appeal to them as part of the event.

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan was encouraged by the amount of people who participated in the multitude of events taking place. Speaking yesterdaythe Minister said he hoped that National Trails Day would be the first step many people would take in taking advantage of the incredible free resource Irish people had right at their feet.

David Gunning, Chief Executive of Coillte, Ireland’s largest provider of outdoor recreation, said, “ National Trails Day offers participants the unique opportunity to see how accessible the great outdoors are to everyone, with an event in every corner of the country. We hope that the thousands who participated this year will see how easy it is to get out and enjoy the great natural resources we have on our doorstep and will continue to enjoy the great trails we have for walking, cycling and all sorts of other activities all year round.”

Shaun Quinn, Chief Executive of Fáilte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority said, “Ireland has a unique countryside that hundreds of thousands of people travel to every year to take advantage of. National Trails Day was set up to increase awareness of this natural beauty for the people who live here because no matter where you live in your county you are never too far from a breathtaking view or a bracing walk and with such a variety of events taking place this year we hope people can see the amenities on their doorstep”.

John Treacy, CEO of the Irish Sports Council, said “National Trails Day affords Irish people the opportunity to see that getting some of the great Irish outdoors is a great way to kick start a healthy routine and hopefully realise the outdoor exercise had in contributing to a healthy lifestyle and a way to appreciate the important things in life. The Irish Sports Council’s National Trails Office is delighted to be associated with its partners in not only promoting National Trails Day but in developing and promoting usage of the national trails on year-wide basis.”