Home News Council Born na Mona urged to retain Laois site ‘with unlimited tourist potential’

Born na Mona urged to retain Laois site ‘with unlimited tourist potential’

Born na Mona have been urged by Loois County Councillors to ensure the continued use of a site “with unlimited tourist potential.”

The motion was raised at the March meeting of the Portlaoise Municipal District this week by Fianna Fáil Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald.

“I have been contacted by Clonkeen and District Community Group, who want Bord na Mona to retain all the existing narrow gauge railway trackway associated with the Portlaoise Cul na Mona works and turn them into a greenway for the benefit of local and national communities,” Cllr Fitzgerald said.

“It could become an amenity for future generations with unlimited tourist potential.

“The current trackway runs from the Cul na Mona plant,  close to Ballyroan, up as far as Ross in Ballyfin.

“With peat harvesting stopped and the tracks no longer in use, a considerable number of locals, including people from Portlaoise, are now using this as a walkway.

“I really believe we should regularise this before Born na Mona remove the track and all is lost.

Cllr Willie Aird supported the motion, saying “well done to the residents of Clonkeen that have come forward and formed this group.

“This is a real gem that we have – other areas in the country would love to have what we have.

“But we have not benefitted to the same tune as others have from Bord na Mona, and it’s time now that they stood up and supported the infrastructure that we have.

“It’s beautiful out there, and if we could just harvest some of that, the tourist potential with the fauna and the flora it would be absolutely brilliant.

“You’re talking about going green, and the green image – here it is, on our doorstep.”

Cllr Barry Walsh, whose father worked with Bord na Mona for many years, said “this would be a fantastic addition to the town, and to Laois in general.

“This should qualify for Just Transition, so if we can get a plan in place, there’s funding for it.”

Cllr John Joe Fennelly pointed to the success in Abbeyleix along the old railway line, saying the walkway attracts a huge amount of people.

“It’s good for business as well; the tourist attraction of this is phenomenal,” Cllr Fennelly said.

The Fianna Fáil Cllr also mooted the idea of connecting the Clonkeen site to the Abbeyleix walkway, extending a path all the way from Portlaoise to Attanagh.

Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley said that Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley has committed to raising the issue at his annual meeting with the CEO of Bord na Mona next month.

“I think we should look to meet with the CEO at Bord na Mona as well, and strengthen our case, because it would be a waste to just let this pass.”

An Cathaoirleach Catherine Fitzgerald agreed, and it was decided that the Municipal District will call for a meeting with the company’s officials.

“This is a very exciting project and It’s up to us to get this up and running. The generations to come will appreciate this project,” Cllr Fitzgerald said.

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