FAM tour hosted for agency partners of Joyce Country & Western Lakes aspiring UNESCO Global Geopark
A familiarisation (FAM) tour of the Joyce Country and Western Lakes Geopark was hosted for some collaborating partners on Tuesday 28 February 2023. In perfect spring weather, representatives of Údarás na Gaeltachta, Galway County Council and Fáilte Ireland were able to see and hear about the outstanding natural, cultural and built heritage in the geopark – including its geological features of international significance.
Appropriately, the tour began in Cong on the border between counties Galway and Mayo – two of the collaborating state partners. A stop in Clonbur and chat with two local businesses followed – Tomás Burke (JJ Burkes bar/restaurant), and Johnny Coyne (Lough Corrib Adventures, for Corrib sailing and kayaking) – then on to Corr na Móna and Finny. A real “wow moment” was on the hill road overlooking Lough Nafooey, where it is hoped an info panel will soon be erected describing the unique geological history of the valley and its surrounding mountains – including volcanic activity stretching back 490 million years (more info here). Participants then gazed at the Deircs – a series of corrie lakes feeding into the Owenbrin valley separating the Partry Mountains and Maumtrasna – from the carpark of the Lough Mask Distillery, a newish start-up receiving support from Údarás na Gaeltachta. A brief stop in Tourmakeady included viewing the newly energy-retrofitted Geopark office, hot drinks from the pop-up Caife Glas, and meet and greet from the local Coiste Pobal. Cornmarket square in the heart of Ballinrobe was the final stop. Representatives of Ballinrobe’s community organisations informed how both the Town Hall development and the Geopark will help the town revive and thrive in the coming years.
On return to Cong, the Údarás na Gaeltachta ceo Tomás Ó Síocháin and colleagues launched the Geopark Management Master Plan 2022-2028, which sets-out ideas, priorities and actions on tourism-led community and business development in the geopark. The Master plan is available to download in English or Irish.