The Derryounce Lakes & Trails Project.

One of our unique initiatives for Portarlington has to be the recent development of the 355 acre forest and bogs known as the Derryounce Lakes and Trails that the PCDA have leased from BNM and Coillte. The unusual thing about this site is that the Trailhead actually starts right on the edge of the town of Portarlington adjacent to the Barrow Bridge. Normally one has to travel some distance from a town before they can access a facility like this. This site is remarkable for its beautiful scenery, lakes, roads, walkways, paths and forested trails. The PCDA have been awarded a €64,500 grant from Laois Partnership toward the upgrading of its three looped walks, installation of secure pedestrian friendly access points, fencing and signage across the site. Portarlington Angling Club controls angling on both lakes at Derryounce which are available for fly fishing by permit for both brown & rainbow trout all year round . There are official monthly walks which are advertised and promoted for all age groups. Entry fee is €5 per person and monies raised go back into the development of the facility. The PCDA is also working on developing the site as a designated Orienteering and training centre in navigation skills for all grades. There are currently six people from both TUS and CE Schemes working across different parts of the site. The PCDA development of the site has drawn the support of Bord na Mona, Coillte and Offaly County Council and it is now planned to fully develop the site as a top cycle way facility to target some of the 600,000 tourists who annually visit Ireland and wish to experience its amazing scenery and facilities. An Application for further substantial funding is currently being prepared by PCDA to develop Stage 2 of the Project including the larger lake – Lough Lurgan. The very successfully managed BNM Lough Boora Parklands near Cloghan in Offaly attracts over 100,000 visitors annually and PCDA plan to use this model in the development of its Derryounce facility. We believe it is possible to attract 10,000 visitors to the facility to be known as the Derryounce Experience“. The benefits that this influx of visitors will have on the businesses in the town will be reflected in the demand for accommodation such as B&B’s, restaurants, coffee shops, bars and bicycle hire. The fact that one of Irelands busiest train stations is in Portarlington with 64 trains stopping every day will also underpin the visitor footfall in the town. To ensure that the development and success of the facility is assured into the future it is planned to reopen the old abandoned BNM rail-lines. This will allow for the Derryounce cycle paths to connect to all of other planned cycle ways from the Royal Canal across and connecting to the Slieve Bloom mountain cycle ways. This is part of a larger €9 million investment in Ireland’s cycle ways and is only going for planning at this stage. This investment will be spear headed by the three largest land owners in the County, BNM, Coillte and the County Council.