Tipperary County Council has officially unveiled Suir Blueway Tipperary – the culmination of nearly seven years of planning and implementation which has seen an investment of more than €5.6m to develop this tourism route and local amenity.
Running from Cahir to Clonmel and on to Carrick-on-Suir, Suir Blueway Tipperary has 53km of walking, cycling and watersports trails through beautiful landscapes and bustling heritage towns at the heart of medieval Ireland. Highlights include The Butler Trail and the new whitewater Canoe Slalom Course in Clonmel, which is used as a training base for the Irish national squad.
The Blueway is expected to contribute to increased visitor numbers and spend in the area. According to Waterways Ireland, almost one in five waterways users are overseas visitors, half (49%) are domestic and one in three (34% ) are local visitors.
Suir Blueway Tipperary was officially opened today by John Treacy, Chief Executive of Sport Ireland. Speaking at the launch event in Clonmel, Mr Treacy said: “On behalf of Sport Ireland, I am delighted to be here on the banks of the River Suir today to officially open the Suir Blueway Tipperary. This is a wonderful natural amenity, which will provide an excellent base for outdoor activity and recreation for both the local community here in Tipperary as well as visitors from all over Ireland and overseas.
“Sport Ireland places a particular emphasis on supporting activity programmes, such as the Suir Blueway Tipperary, that will continue to support active lifestyles among people of all backgrounds and circumstances. I would like to congratulate Tipperary County Council, Tipperary Sports Partnerships and Tipperary Tourism on the development and delivery of this collaborative project and I wish all involved every success for the future.”
Visitors can experience guided tours of the world-renowned Cahir Castle before strolling or paddling down to the romantic Swiss Cottage. The Blueway continues through the picturesque towns of Ardfinnan and Newcastle, as the River Suir meanders to the historic town of Clonmel. Walkers, cyclists, canoeist, kayakers and paddleboarders can enjoy beautiful scenery as they follow the river for 21km along the refurbished historic towpath from the Monument Car Park in Clonmel to Sean Healy Park in Carrick-on-Suir.
Accomplished paddlers can take on the challenge of the 300-metre Canoe Slalom Course in Clonmel, which was constructed in 2016 as part of the investment in the project. The longest slalom course in Ireland offers a unique sporting and leisure opportunity for both local users and visitors and is used by Canoeing Ireland as a training base for the Irish national squad.
Refurbished pathways and multiple new access points to make it easier to get on to the river have been created in several places along the 53km route. These include at Inch Field in Cahir; in Ardfinnan, Sandybanks at Marlfield; Suir Island in Clonmel; Denis Burke Park in Clonmel; Kilsheelan, and Sean Healy Park in Carrick-on-Suir. New Blueway map boards and signage has been developed and erected to guide and improve visitor experiences.
The Blueway was officially opened by John Treacy, Chief Executive, Sport Ireland in the presence of the Elected Members of Tipperary County Council including Councillor Michael Murphy, Leas Cathaoirleach, Tipperary County Council, Councillor Richie Molloy, Mayor of Clonmel Borough District, Councillor Louise McLoughlin Cathaoirleach of Carrick on Suir Municipal District and Joe MacGrath, Chief Executive, Tipperary County Council.
Leas Cathaoirleach of Tipperary County Council, Councillor Michael Murphy said: “Tipperary County Council and Tipperary Sports Partnership have been working on this project since 2012. We are very excited to see this now come to fruition and to see our investment in our latest tourism offering come to life. Tourism is a substantial growth area for County Tipperary. We have so much to offer in terms of beautiful landscapes, fascinating cultural and historical sites and stories, and some of the best food produce in Ireland. Suir Blueway Tipperary has high potential to increase the numbers of visitors and economic opportunities along the entire route from Cahir to Clonmel to Carrick-on-Suir, as well as in other local communities. Already, one new business has opened as a result of the new Blueway and the council looks forward to welcoming and supporting more new businesses in the coming months and years. “
Chief Executive of Tipperary County Council, Joe MacGrath, expressed “thanks to the Elected Members of Tipperary County Council and all the state agencies that have helped make Suir Blueway Tipperary possible. Funding for the project came from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Tipperary County Council, Sport Ireland, Interreg and the Department of Rural and Community Development. Without their support this project would not have gotten off the ground. We will be continuing to invest and improve the facilities along the river and look forward to welcoming more overseas and domestic visitors to this wonderful experience as a new product in Tipperary, Munster Vales and Irelands Ancient East.”
To date, a number of activities have taken place on the new Blueway route, including the National Canoe Slalom events and National Club Canoeing Championships, the PaddleUp Programme, the Suir Descent, Kayaking Camps, Canoeing Training & Education Courses, 10km walks, heritage walks, cycling tours from Castle to Castle, and Triathlon Events. To find out more, follow Tipperary Tourism and Tipperary Sports Partnership on social media using the tags #SuirBluewayTipperary and #VisitTipperary.