The Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Éamon Ó Cuív T.D. today officially opened the Bealach na Gaeltachta – Slí Chonamara way-marked way at an event held in the Connemara Coast Hotel in Na Forbacha, Co. Galway.
Slí Chonamara is a 220km long distance way-marked walking route that begins in Galway City and weaves its way out to Connemara past An Spidéal, An Cnoc, Indreabhán, to An Cheathrú Rua and onto the Islands District. The walking route then passes through Camas, Ros Muc and onto Sraith Salach where it meets the already well established Western Way walking route at Mám Éan. Slí Chonamara also winds inland, north of Na Forbacha to Leitir and then a loop offers the walker two options of walking through forestry and alongside lakes onto Uachtar Ard where it also meets the Western Way just north of the village. Slí Chonamara has recently received Way-Marked Way status, which is granted by the Irish Sports Council.
Speaking at the opening, Minister Ó Cuív congratulated all those that were involved in the development of the long distance walking route. “A recognised walking route is a very important asset to any area that aims to attract tourists. Slí Chonamara is a prime example of how the partnership approach – in this case Údarás na Gaeltachta, Galway County Council, local landowners and the local community – can work in tandem to develop a walking product”.
The Slí Chonamara long distance walking route has been developed by Galway County Council with funding assistance from Údarás na Gaeltachta and Fáilte Ireland. Pádraig Ó hAoláin, Chief Executive, Údarás na Gaeltachta said “we have been involved with this project since its initiation, and I would like to commend all parties involved. Our local natural resources are our best strength here in Connemara and we now have a recognised way-marked way that will assist in attracting tourists to the region.”
The County Galway Mayor, Michael Mullins, thanked the Irish Sports Council and the National Way-marked Ways Committees for their continued advice and support in the development of the Slí Chonamara walking route.