Fianna Fáil TD for Cork North West Aindrias Moynihan has called on the Tourism Minister to ensure that a dedicated plan to promote areas off the Wild Atlantic Way – such as the Lee Valley – is put in place so that towns and villages across the region can benefit from growing tourism numbers.

Deputy Moynihan raised the issue with Minister of State Brendan Griffin in the Dáil this week.

“The Lee Valley has tremendous tourism potential but there has been a lack of focus and investment by government in recent years. The area includes globally recognised attractions such as Blarney Castle, our unique heritage such as the Gearagh, as well as local beauty spots like Gougane Barra, which run immediately adjacent to the Wild Atlantic Way. There are many more scenic areas, which, if developed, could bring tourists to the Lee Valley”, said Deputy Moynihan.

“Thousands more tourists are coming to Cork every year, especially as the cruise liner business into Cobh harbour increases. We should be looking at a slí na saoirse, or freedom trail, to bring these visitors from the cruise ships into the countryside.

“Both Minister Griffin and Fáilte Ireland in their replies to me talk about the workshops that they are rolling out to businesses in the area, and while these are welcome, they only touch on the efforts needed to put the Lee Valley on the map. These workshops focus on accommodation availability and overnight stays, and while this is important, I believe we should be examining the viability of day trips and attractions.

“I welcome the three point plan that Fáilte Ireland has designed to make more people aware of the offerings in the Lee Valley, particularly the development of the Lee Valley Drive, and I will remain in contact with the organisation to ensure that it progressed.

“There is real tourism potential in this area and I want to see it developed fully. WE need to maximise on the success of the Wild Atlantic Way and spread the economic benefits right across the country”, concluded Deputy Moynihan.