Beara Bridle Way: Ireland's first Horse Trail competed

Ireland’s first Horse Trail, the Beara Bridle Way, which winds through some of the country’s most spectacular scenery, has been completed.
Beara Bridle Way: Ireland's first Horse Trail competed

A drone picture of the beautiful West Cork Village of Eyeries on the North West tip of the Beara peninsula. Picture Dan Linehan
A drone picture of the beautiful West Cork Village of Eyeries on the North West tip of the Beara peninsula. Picture Dan Linehan

Ireland’s first Horse Trail, the Beara Bridle Way, which winds through some of the country’s most spectacular scenery, has been completed.

Straddling the Cork and Kerry border, it tracks through the Slieve Miskish mountains above the Beara peninsula west, taking in rugged mountains, endless seascapes and island views, connecting three famous, colourful west cork villages — Castletownbere, Allihies and Eyeries.

Completed with the assistance of Cork County Council, the bridleway is managed by Beara Tourism. The project cost €83,000 with a €53,000 contribution from Rural Economic Development Zones (REDZ) and Cork County Council funding the balance.

As part of the trail, Cork County Council also erected a €96,000 bridge in Caminches, Allihies to enhance safety on the bridleway.

When the project was first initiated in 2016, the British Horse Society was brought in to assess the area because there were no other official horse trails in Ireland.

Jim O’Sullivan, Beara Tourism, said: “It was important that we followed the correct procedures.  After infrastructural works were completed earlier this year, we got official approval and endorsement from the British Horse Society and Sports Ireland, which means that the trail is now considered ready to go."

Mayor of Cork County, Cllr Ian Doyle, welcomed news of the trail’s completion: "The impacts of Covid-19 have affected the tourism industry severely, but sustainable initiatives such as this will place Cork County in a strong position for recovery, once Government restrictions are lifted. What better way to explore the Wild Atlantic Way and the marine haven that is ’’pure Cork’’ than on horseback!"

Annie O’Neil, owner of Lios Lara Riding Stables in Castletownbere, said the bridleway could provide a very welcome boost to local businesses hit by the Covid-19 crisis: “We had a lot of German and Dutch tourists last year, they loved it.

The Bridle Way links Clonglaskin townland several kilometres west of Castletownbere town with the colourful village of Allihies.
The Bridle Way links Clonglaskin townland several kilometres west of Castletownbere town with the colourful village of Allihies.

"But now Irish people won’t be going on holidays abroad so we may see an increase in Irish holidaymakers coming here, bringing their horses and doing the trail.

"That’s not only good for local stables but for the B&Bs, pubs and restaurants when they open.”

Annie has been taking people on the completed parts of the bridleway for the past three years — only people registered with the British Horse Society and holding the appropriate insurance could do so. From May 18, her stables will be open for business again.

“The bridleway is always beautiful, in all directions. Even in the rain last summer people loved it. It’s a six-hour ride from here to Allihies to the beach and back. We bring a packed lunch.”

The Beara Bridle Way will officially open later this year.

bearabridleway.com

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