Ballinasloe, the hidden gem of Ireland, recently hosted a remarkable Tourism Weekend “Something For Everyone “ that left participants in awe.
With over 200 enthusiastic attendees, the event showcased the town's vast potential as a future tourism destination.
From invigorating guided bog walks to captivating historic tours, the itinerary catered to diverse interests. A scenic boat cruise allowed visitors to soak in the breath-taking landscapes of the meandering Suck, while a delightful whiskey in Ahascragh tasting added a touch of indulgence.
Most keynotes of the towns and unique hinterland offering were proffered – the rich tradition of music and dance was on display in The Pillar House Rambling House, and again at the Lismany Boardwalk, the magnificent stetches of the Ui Maine Way along the Canal bank to the Monastic and Romanesque epicentre of Clonfert and of course the Battlefield experience of Aughrim were all folded into a smorgasbord mix.
With the Greenway / Cycleway being eagerly anticipated and River Suck new bathing and activity features gone to feasibility the River anchored the off grid and the adventurous for many – with a specially chartered cruise from Shannonbridge to the Moycarn Lodge Marina and some introductory Kayaking Trips for novices offered by new local Adventure / Activity Company Lets Enjoy Outside. A Biodiversity walk in Beechlawn Organic Farm saw folks tromping about learning about the birds, bees and ecology on the Saturday and the Tennis Club also held their Open Day during the pilot weekend. A pilot Heritage Treasure Trail based on some of the town’s history was offered on Sunday to winddown operations.
Co Ordinator for the Project Lyn Donnelly explained how the fledgling tourism group emerged from the Leader supported Feasibility Study in Spring of last year and had gotten some wonderful support from Hidden Heartlands by way of mentoring and business support to work up some early deliverable projects. The Group then focused on a Familiarisation Showcase event to platform some of the main attractions the town and hinterland have on offer.
As one of the first Tourism networks – community led but with significant private sector and hospitality sector engagement in the Hidden Heartlands , we have been on a steep learning curve to pull this together and to remind locals, operators of the Hospitality trade and the wider tourism stakeholder community that these activities can be enjoyed year round by individuals, families, groups and that for slow off grid tourism with amazing good value – our Town can be a good destination point for adventure , culture or just leisure”, explained Lyn.
The plan going forward to is redevelop the Maps, information bulletin boards, on line visual presence with the new imagery and to use the valuable feedback gained and the marketing metrics to bundle packages with accommodation and tour providers in the coming months.
This well-rounded experience left participants yearning for more, while simultaneously solidifying Ballinasloe's reputation as a must-visit location. As the town continues to leverage its rich offerings, the future of Ballinasloe as a flourishing tourism destination looks brighter than ever.
Project Chair Brian King commended and thanked the Weekend Project partners - Galway County Council Tourism Officer, Paddy Mathews and team at Hidden Heartlands for their co - operation and support partnership . “ I have to acknowledge and thank Ballinasloe Credit Union and Galway County Councill for their welcome sponsorship of the weekend , all our trade partners, our activity groups and the wonderful members of the Project Working Group who have beavered away at this since last Autumn”. Stated Brian.
Committee members are :
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