As part of it’s mission for 2011 to put particular emphasis on the promotion of walking as a recreational activity in East Clare, East Clare Tourism will be staging it’s first ever Walking Festival from October 21st to 23rd. The festival will showcase the outstanding natural walking facilities there will be a definite economic benefit to the area with walkers, friends and families visiting and staying over the weekend.
The festival was launched back on Thursday September 8th in McNamara’s Bar & Restaurant, Scariff by Presidential Election Candidate Sean Gallagher. Speaking at the launch, Mr Gallagher stated that “this festival is a wonderful example of a community working together to provide a local response to current economic challenges while encouraging participation in walking, a physical activity which makes the most of the natural environment we all live in.”
Mayor of Clare, Cllr Pat Hayes, said that “the importance of tourism as a local economic driver cannot be underestimated and that he hoped that this 2 day event would become an annual feature in the festival and events calendar for East Clare. The variety of walks caters for all levels of ability and fitness. In true festival spirit it is not all about walking. A programme of entertainment has been arranged so as to ensure all visitors enjoy the food, music, dance and hospitality of East Clare which we are well known for and proud of”.
The committee behind the festival is a partnership of all stakeholders which includes East Clare Tourism, Shannon Development, East Clare Way, UL Activity Centre, East Clare Walking Club, Clare Walking Tours, Clare County Council, Cantata2, Clare Tourism Forum and CLDC under the Chairmanship of Pat Hayes MCC, Mayor of Clare who was “keen that all the relevant stakeholders should come together to ensure the success of the festival.”
Welcoming the festival, Ruairi Deane, Tourism Product Development Executive with Shannon Development, said “Shannon Development is delighted to support this great new addition to the events calendar. Activity tourism, particularly walking, is a key part of the tourism offering in East Clare and this new festival will build on the investment in walking routes in the area that have been supported under Shannon Development’s Shannon Region Trails initiative.”
Siobhan King, Clare Tourism Officer with Shannon Development, said “the company was delighted to support the design, print and distribution of the festival brochure through the EU Cantata2 programme and sees such events being key to attracting increased visitors to East Clare in the shoulder season.”
The festival organisers also received great encouragement from renowned walking writer Christopher Somerville, who having walked the Ballycroum Loop near Feakle in June of this year wrote:
“The sun began to slip through the misty clouds at last, showing us distant hills and glints of loughs. This East Clare walk could have gone on forever and we’d never have tired of it.”
Chris also told East Clare Tourism recently : “What a lovely website and festival you’ve devised. I’m sorry that we can’t be there for the festival but we are looking forward to coming to East Clare again soon.”
The festival will be a 2 day event and will centre around the East Clare Way, which is a National Waymarked Walking Route. All walks will be guided and will take in some of the great natural wild beauty of East Clare. There will be walks near Slieve Aughty and Slieve Bearnagh including the magnificent scenery of Lough Derg and Lough Graney.
All walks will be graded and there will be something suitable for walkers of all abilities and ages.
A hearty welcome awaits you in East Clare! Nightly entertainment will be provided including the very best of East Clare traditional music. The Welcome Gathering on the Friday night affords you the opportunity to meet members of the East Clare Walking Club who will be your guides for the weekend. You will also be able to view the walking routes, mingle with your fellow walkers and chat about your chosen walks.
For further information check out www.eastclarewalkingfestival.com