West Cavan Fianna Fáil Councillor, John Paul Feeley has welcomed confirmation that funding of € 850,000 has been allocated to Cavan County Council for the Cavan Burren, Blacklion under the Border Uplands Programme funded by INTEREG 4A

‘This is huge funding which will allow Cavan County to complete the construction of an unmanned interpretative facility at the Burren, about two miles from Blacklion together with a network of marked trails through the 240 acre site. The Burren is the key element in County Cavan on the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark and with the Marble Arch Caves they together form the lynchpins on which the whole UNESCO designation hangs. This funding will allow Cavan County Council complete works to open up the Burren to more visitors and allow those who come to see this extraordinary area understand more fully the landscape and the monuments located there.’

In 2009 the Marble Arch Global Geopark, then the smallest UNESCO Geopark in the world was extended to include sites in County Cavan including the Shannon Pot, Clough Oughter and most notably the Burren.

The Burren, an area of karst limestone between Blacklion and the Cuilcagh Mountain contains a huge concentration of geological features and archaeological sites.

‘The Cavan Burren has been described to me as ‘an archaeological city’

so great is the concentration of monuments in the small area. The potential of this area is still only in the process of being uncovered. Explaining to the average tourist what is to be seen and putting each site into context is difficult. This interpretative facility and the marked trails around the forest will open the area up to many more people.’

The Marble Arch Geopark is a joint project between Fermanagh District Council and Cavan County Council. This investment will build on the ongoing work of Cavan County council as this location and at the other sites throughout the Geopark in County Cavan. The Burren Forrest is in the ownership of Coillte.

‘The Geology of this area was created long before human borders. This project is a clear demonstration of cross border and cross community work and I congratulate the officials involved in both Councils, especially Richard Watson, Manager of the Marble Arch Caves Centre and Kirsten Lemon. Cavan County Manager, Jack Keyes, Eoin Doyle, Director of Services and Derry Scanlon, Area Engineer have played a huge role also, particularly through their engagement with Coillte. They can all be very proud that this money has finally been approved. Vincent Reynolds of Cavan County Enterprise Board also played a major role in negotiations with Coillte’

A number of other sites in the Geopark received funding earlier this year under the Harnessing Natural Resources Project, also funded by INTEREG 4A including the Marble Arch Caves Visitors Centre, Dowra Courthouse and a number of walks in the region.

It is intended that this project will go for tender in early in 2012 with work to be completed early in the coming year.

‘This funding though welcome must only be the beginning. The Marble Arch Geopark has huge potential as a sustainable major tourist attraction for the region and I am determined that West Cavan will benefit fully from that designation. Blacklion is located at the centre of the regions and a fully operational visitors centre in Blacklion must be our long-term ambition. In the meantime, this allocation of funding will go along way in making a substantial improvement to the Burren site in particular.’

There is huge local interest in the ongoing development of the Geopark and in particular ensuring that all of the sites of interest in the Burren are discovered and preserved. Councillor Feeley highlighted the work of the very enthusiastic local Jim Nolan who has spend many years endeavouring to make sure that the Burren is preserved and opened to the public.

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