Our Rural Future: Minister Humphreys announces €3.5 million for outdoor activities  

 22 Oct 2021

Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, has today announced €3.5 million in funding to support 189 outdoor projects across the country.

  • Some 189 projects to benefit as part of investment in adventure and rural tourism
  • Funding to enhance our mountain trails, forest walks, beaches, lakes, rivers, blueways and greenways 
  • Focus on supporting adventure activities such as hiking, cycling kayaking, mountaineering, birdwatching and outdoor swimming
  • Announcement builds on recent expansion of ‘Walk’s Scheme’ and increase in the number of Rural Recreation Officers (RROs) 
  • Funding being rolled out in partnership with Fáilte Ireland

The funding, under the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme (ORIS), will further enhance our unique natural amenities and support Rural Ireland as a destination for adventure tourism.
The scheme is designed to support the enhancement of dozens of recreational amenities such as our mountain trails, forest walks, beaches, rivers, lakes, blueways and greenways.

Projects across every county have been chosen for investment of up to €20,000 under Measure 1 of the scheme, which is being delivered in partnership with Fáilte Ireland. 

Funding for larger projects under Measure 2 and 3 of the scheme will be announced by Minister Humphreys in the coming weeks. 

Among the projects being funded today include:

  • Sligo – The Sligo Way: The creation of new trail links along The Sligo Way at Carrownagh: €20,000. 
  • Mayo – Bohola Walking and Cycling Hub: The creation of 3 walking/cycling loops centred around the village of Bohola and surrounding countryside: €20,000
  • Kerry – Valentia Island Collums Cup Loop Walk: Develop an 8km Loop Walk on Valentia Island: €19,736.
  • Laois – Castletown Riverside Walk: Upgrade existing Castletown River Walkway. This project will create a new magical fairy trail for children which will include a picnic area, duck pond, and bug hotels: €20,000
  • Tipperary – Knockmealdown Trail: Upgrades to the Knockmealdown trail which runs from Newcastle to Ballyporeen: €20,000 
  • Limerick – Adare River Walk Nature Trail: Development of new Nature Trail, along the existing riverside walk: €17,100 
  • Louth - Annaloughan and Carlingford Loop: Upgrade to the walking trail in Cooley: €18,000 
  • Cork – Kiskeam Walkway: Develop a 1.1 km walkway through an existing forest and link it with the existing walkways in Kiskeam Village: €20,000 
  • Carlow - Tullow Kayaking Club: Improvements to the river access which will enhance the overall kayaking experience: €20,000.
  • Galway – Annaghdown Pier: Maintenance of the swimming area and the provision and maintenance of lifebuoys: €20,000 

Announcing the funding today, Minister Humphreys said:

We are now seeing an unprecedented level of investment in our outdoor amenities, underpinned by the most ambitious Government policy for Rural Ireland, ‘Our Rural Future’.

The funding that I am announcing today will further develop and improve outdoor projects in rural communities across the country. 

We will carry out upgrades to our mountain trails and forest walks so that we can further unlock the beauty of our rural countryside.

And under this fund, we will continue to develop our greenways, cycleways and blueways.

COVID-19 has given us a newfound appreciation for our great outdoors. 

That’s why I’m delighted that we can support so many fantastic projects under this funding.”

The Minister added: 

This investment will support my ambition to make Rural Ireland a destination of choice for outdoor pursuits and adventure tourism.

By drawing more visitors to experience the beauty of our rural towns and villages, we will help further support our rural economy to rebuild post Covid-19. 

In the coming weeks, we will see more evidence of the hugely positive impact ‘Our Rural Future’ is having in Rural Ireland.

Under Measure 2 and 3 of the scheme, projects of much larger scale will be supported with funding.

All of this is leading up to the development of our National Outdoor Recreation Strategy, which I look forward to launching next year.

I also want to acknowledge the support of our partners, Fáilte Ireland, who are once again contributing to the funding of successful projects under the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme.

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD said: 

I am pleased to welcome today’s significant announcement that will help change the landscape of Ireland by creating improved and upgraded outdoor trails for recreation purposes. Over the past two years we have seen increased usage of the great outdoors for recreational purposes by both visitors and local communities. 

This is the fourth year Fáilte Ireland has invested in the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme (ORIS), in partnership with the Department of Rural and Community Development. 

The ORIS Measure 1 funding will provide invaluable support for the maintenance and upgrade of existing walking routes, cycling routes greenways, blueways and mountain access routes in every county in Ireland. 

Opening the Outdoors is a key priority for FáiIte Ireland and programmes such as this help ensure that domestic and international visitors can experience a world-class, sustainable recreational experience in our beautiful countryside.”

Minister Humphreys added:

Since 2016, my Department has allocated over €71 million to almost 1,200 projects through the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme. 

I also announced 31 new trails under the Walks Scheme last month as well as 8 additional Rural Recreation Officers. 

All this investment is making a significant contribution to supporting healthy, active lifestyles while also building the economic and tourism potential of rural areas. I have also secured a 25% increase under Budget 2022 to support this continued investment next year and beyond.”

This investment is the first announcement of successful projects under the 2021 Scheme with further announcements expected on Measure 2 (medium-scale), Measure 3 (large-scale) and the Project Development Measure before the end of the year.  

Details of Measure 1 projects announced today are available on gov.ie

Contact: The Department of Rural and Community Development Press Office on 01-773 6843 / 087-1734633 or by email

Note to editors:

"Our Rural Future" is the whole-of-government policy for rural Ireland for the period 2021-2025. It represents a new milestone in the approach to rural development policy for Ireland and adopts a more strategic, ambitious and holistic approach to investing in and maximising opportunities for rural areas. 
The Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme (ORIS) provides funding as follows:

  • Measure 1: Small scale repair/development/promotion and marketing (up to €20,000 grant available)
  • Measure 2: Medium scale upgrade and new trail/amenity development (up to €200,000 grant available)
  • Measure 3: Large scale repair/upgrade and new strategic trail/amenity development (up to €500,000 grant available).
  • Project Development Measure: Development costs for strategic large scale Measure 2 or Measure 3 type projects e.g. detailed design, preparation for the planning and/or procurement, appropriate assessment etc. (up to €50,000 grant available).

Funding of up to 90% of the total approved project costs is awarded, with the additional 10% to be provided from other sources.

All measures under ORIS are supported by the Department of Rural and Community Development in partnership with Fáilte Ireland. Following consultation with local communities project applications are submitted from Local Authorities and Local Development Companies in respect of Measure 1. 

Details of Measure 1 projects announced today are available on gov.ie