Ireland’s longest seafront boardwalk, a 2-metre-wide and 7km accessibility friendly walkway between Youghal town centre and Redbarn beach, was opened today by the Mayor of the County of Cork Cllr Mary Linehan Foley and Heather Humphreys T.D., Minister for Rural and Community Development.
The official opening marks the completion of Phase 2, valued at €2.2 million, with €1.7 million provided by Cork County Council and €500,000 provided under the Department of Rural and Community Development’s Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme. This phase saw an extension of the existing boardwalk from Claycastle beach out to Redbarn beach, both of which were awarded the prestigious Blue Flag for 2021, significantly enhancing the ‘beach experience’ for visitors. Phase 1 was completed in 2018 with support from Failte Ireland and Cork County Council.
Speaking at the opening, Minister Humphreys said: “It is great to see first-hand the excellent work which has taken place over the last number of years here in Youghal and I know this boardwalk will bring huge benefits to the community, both from a health and economic perspective.
“I think you’ll all agree, that if we have learned one thing over the past 15 months, it’s that we rely more than ever on our outdoor amenities.
“In the coming months, I will publish the Government’s new National Outdoor Recreation Strategy, which we are developing in conjunction with Comhairle na Tuaithe.
“And my Department is consulting widely with stakeholders in relation to this strategy, which will shape our outdoor amenities for years to come.
“Projects like this boardwalk, which I know is part of the National Coastal Walking route, will be central to that strategy.”
The Minister continued: “I would like to extend my gratitude to Cllr Linehan Foley and Cork County Council for inviting me today.
“I look forward to returning to east Cork in the future to see the new Youghal Library and the Regeneration of the Town Centre, both of which have received significant investment support from my Department under the €1 Billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund.”
Mayor Linehan Foley, welcomed the opening saying, “Signing the contract for these works was my first undertaking as Mayor of the County Cork when elected last June and it’s fitting that the official opening today be one of my final engagements in office. The boardwalk completion greatly improves access, enhancing the natural heritage of this scenic area, facilitating easy access for the elderly, people with limited mobility, wheelchair users and pushchairs. There is no other town in the country that can claim such unique built and natural heritage assets. This will be a great tourism asset for Youghal and East Cork as well as a wonderful amenity for the community here.”
Chief Executive of Cork County Council Tim Lucey commented, “The boardwalk is a ‘unique selling proposition’ for marketing Youghal, delivering a huge incentive to drive eco-tourism in an area identified by Fáilte Ireland as a key destination within the experience brand of ‘Ireland’s Ancient East’. Benefitting domestic and international visitors by providing a safe, well-marked walkway, it will develop the wider area as a ‘destination’. Families are the key domestic target market, and those holidaying in the Redbarn area will now have direct pedestrian access to the town. Cork County Council’s investment in this project compliments our other recent developments in Youghal, driving footfall to the town centre and ultimately become a driver for economic regeneration.”
The boardwalk supports the aims of the Governments ‘Healthy Ireland’ initiative. The cultural ‘shift’ in attitudes towards physical and mental well-being has been reflected over the past 18 months in Youghal with a marked increase in users of the boardwalk. The extension of the boardwalk from Claycastle to Redbarn has been widely welcomed by locals, visitor and business interest in the area.
Ger Flanagan, Chairman of Youghal Business Alliance, said, “We are delighted with the official opening of our new Boardwalk which will be a major attraction for tourists and locals alike. Youghal Business Alliance would like to congratulate Cork County Council and all the stakeholders involved in delivering this project.”
Padraig Hennessy of Youghal Chamber of Tourism and Development welcomed the launch saying, “The whole of Youghal and East Cork are looking forward to the opening of the new boardwalk which will be a gamechanger for Youghal. It is a great positive and an opportunity to showcase, even more, our beautiful beaches and wonderful amenities. Congratulations to Cork County Council and everyone involved in the delivery of the project”
“The development of Phase 1 of the boardwalk in 2012 was one of Youghal’s biggest success stories and many thousands of people have walked it since,” commented Aileen Murray, Marketing & Development Manager of Youghal Socio Economic Development Group, “The development of Phase 2 to Redbarn will completely transform the visitor experience to our beautiful beaches and encourage even greater visitor numbers, to our Town. Congratulations to Cork County Council who have yet again delivered an outstanding project that will reap many dividends for years to come”