It was acknowledged that the Blackstairs Mountains have huge tourism potential which is currently under-developed and not promoted significantly either within the Town or to the domestic / international visitor. It was felt that there is considerable scope to offer 1 day tours using a mini bus or through a business model like Hook Safari that operates on the Hook Peninsula.
Mountain Bike Trails:
There is an interest in developing mountain bike trails in the area. The mountain bike model in Ballyhoura, County Limerick was discussed and it was felt that this is a model that Bunclody could explore further to examine if it is possible to replicate in this locality. It is our understanding that this was developed as a joint venture between Ballyhoura Development and Fáilte Ireland and approximately 92 km were built on Coillte property with their permission.
However, if these are developed on land owned by Coillte, it is imperative that discussions take place with them initially to identify if this is compatible with their national strategy on ‘Off-Road Cycling, 2012’.
However, it is recognised in the Coillte report that mountain bike club activity is currently taking place in Deerpark / Kilbrannish at a moderate to high usage level. This mountain bike trail is promoted on the Trailbadger website and it profiles the facilities and a movie depicting features of the trail.
The cost of further developing these mountain bike trails is significant however, as substantial investment was required to develop the Ballyhoura mountain bike model on Coillte property. An alternative possibility for mountain bike related tourism could focus on private, commercial ‘trail centres’ which have become very popular in the UK in recent years, especially in Scotland and Wales. One such centre has opened in Ireland, near Roscrea, County Tipperary called ‘Bike Park Ireland’ which appears to be quite successful.
Racing 795 is a Mountain Biking and Triathlon club that involves cyclists, runners, swimmers and adventurers. Racing 795 was formed in 2008 with a mission to promote participation at all levels of triathlon and mountain biking in a friendly, supportive and enjoyable environment. The membership currently stands at around 50, mostly drawn from north Wexford and south Carlow. Competition and personal improvement is encouraged and their base is in Bunclody. Opportunities to develop tourism events in conjunction with this Club could be explored.
Due to circumstance outside their control, Newtownbarry House and Gardens will not re-open for the 2018 summer season and is unlikely to be open to the public again in the future. House and Garden tours and visits booked for the season cannot now go ahead including bookings made through Wexford and Carlow Garden Trails. Clody and her family sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused and to thank all who visited the house, gardens and art gallery and supported them over the years.
Best wishes are extended to the Norton family at this difficult time.
Bunclody is surrounded by mountains which are easily accessible from the Town. WLD has delivered a series of walking trail training programmes over the last 18 months involving 16 communities around the county including Bunclody. There are a series of well-developed walks near Bunclody including Kilbrannish Loop; Coolmelagh Loop and Mount Leinster.
Bunclody is also situated just 5 km from the end of the Wicklow Way in Clonegal. This is a popular long distance walking trail over 127 km long which continues up to South Dublin. There is also the South Leinster Way that starts near Bunclody and this is a long distance walking route which runs from Kildavin, Co. Carlow to Carrick-on-Suir in Co. Tipperary covering 102 km in length. The predominant features in the landscape are Mount Leinster, Brandon Hill and the river valleys of the Barrow, Nore and Suir.
It was recognised that walking trails are one of the Town’s major tourist assets which are currently under-developed. It was felt there was scope to develop these further through advancing new trails; more promotion of the existing trails and also encouraging guided walking trails. There is a company called Blackstairs Eco Trails, based in Borris which offers Eco Trails, Guided Hikes, Workshops, Foraging, Foraging Hen Events, Teachers Courses, School Visits, Childrens’ Trails and Fun in the Wild. Links could be developed with this company to identify if guided walking tours could be made available to visitors staying in Bunclody. Annual events could also be designed around foraging or other eco themes.
There are a wealth of historic houses
and gardens within close proximity to Bunclody including:
- Newtownbarry House
- Altamount Gardens
- Huntington Castle
- Borris Castle
- Lucy’s Wood Garden
- Tombrick Gardens
These gardens are members of either the Wexford or Carlow Garden Trails that are widely publicised nationally through websites or in brochures. It was recognised that because Bunclody is located on the border between Co. Carlow and Co. Wexford, visitors are not always aware of the gardens in close proximity to the Town.
It was felt very important that all of these attractions should be jointly publicised to visitors who are staying in Bunclody or the neighboring area.