This year, CLDC contributed a case study for our Rural Social Scheme (RSS) program, as part of a national review process.
We were proud and happy to showcase the good work that has happened through the RSS program, by showcasing the benefits of one project for the participants, the environment, and the local communities.
Description of the project
Since 2004, the RSS Scheme in county Clare has been supporting and contributing to a project called The Burren Way. The Burren Way is a 123km walking trail which meanders across the county, providing locals and tourists alike with an accessible means of exploring the natural wonders of our county, and the unique landscapes and history that we are so proud of. The RSS project support covers the six unique trails which make up the Burren Way, and consists of marking and preparing new trails, addressing issues that arise, and maintaining existing trails and walkways on a continual basis (as per the requirements documented in the bi-annual reports from the National Trails Office, and in conjunction with the Rural Recreational Officer.)
Benefits for the participants
Over the years since 2004, many members of the RSS have participated in this placement, and each of them has had a natural appreciation of the area. Their appreciation and love for the place – the natural habitat, the beauty, and the historical importance of its features – would feed into the tasks they would undertake in preparing and/or maintaining such a diverse area. Many participants would really enjoy being stopped by passers-by, and asked questions while they were working. They enjoyed sharing and talking about the area, the history, or giving recommendations. Working outdoors in natural habitats brings many well-documented health benefits – physically, mentally and emotionally – for participants, and working in a place that is meaningful to them brings satisfaction, both in terms of day-to-day contributions, as well as a deeper fulfilment.
Impact of the work for the communities
The Burren Way brings you inland from Lahinch, on the Western side of the Burren, to Doolin on the coast, and via the town of Lisdoonvarna on to Ballyvaughan to the north. It then crosses the heartland of the Burren through the villages of Carran, and Corrofin on the eastern side of the Burren. Just south of Corrofin the route links with the Mid Clare Way and forms an attractive loop walk on the eastern side of the Burren. There are six key trailheads, which provide information map boards erected by the RSS. These are located close to local services and facilities, such as shops, accommodation, restaurants, and public transport. The walk and trailheads bring tourism right into the local community, as well as providing locals a means of enjoying and appreciating the natural heritage on their doorstep. The Burren Way creates a link between towns, villages and communities across Clare, and offers communities a healthy (and family-friendly) way of engaging with their local landscape. The infrastructure created and maintained by the RSS gives everyone the opportunity to enjoy and appreciate the natural beauty of the environment, and crucially keeps people safe while doing so. Having RSS participants en route offers an added benefit for walkers, of chatting with a local and getting personal stories, history, and guidance.
Because the walk connects so many different towns and villages across the county, and trailheads begin in 6 different places, (Lahinch, Doolin, Lisdoonvarna, Ballyvaughan, Carran, and Corrofin,) there are many options for tourists and locals alike, to engage with the local communities and gain an appreciation for the unique culture, history, and landscape. Without the input of the RSS, these trails would become neglected, dangerous, and fall apart, and this community amenity would be lost.
Up to 500,000 people use the trail annually. As you can see, this is a vast area being widely utilised, with tourism being directed to local businesses and amenities, whilst promoting health, local history, landscape preservation and the beauty in our natural environment. This is unmeasurable, in importance and impact, for local communities and businesses alike across the county.”