Sun shines on Carrigmeal Woods for Ministerial Visit

Continuing her tour of County Laois, Minister Humphreys was thrilled to unveil the exquisite new well-being amenity at Carrigmeal Woodland Walks. This delightful project was made possible through the generous funding from the ORIS programme.

The Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council,  Mr Paschal Mc Evoy,  said  “What has been accomplished here at Carrigmeal is more than just an outdoor space. It is a testament to the power of community spirit and vision. The generosity and dedication of James Deegan and the Deegan family have been the driving force behind the realization of this exceptional project. This space will undoubtedly serve as a dynamic resource for students, families, and the wider community, nurturing creativity, well-being, and social connection.”


Mr Donal Breannan, Director of Services, Laois County Council said “The Carrigmeal outdoor space has been thoughtfully designed to encourage creativity, promote physical activity, and provide a welcoming environment for all ages. With a focus on inclusivity and community engagement, it aims to become a hub for learning, relaxation, and inspiration. Local residents and visitors alike can look forward to enjoying the benefits of this outdoor space, which promises to enhance the quality of life in the Dysart area. Its open-air amenities, beautiful greenery, and inviting atmosphere are certain to be cherished by all who visit”.

Dr. Kate Ramsbottom  presented the Minister with a piece of magnificent Porcelain Pottery based on the Witch of Dysart Enos , as a token of appreciation. Under the guidance of the dedicated Proprietor and Chairperson of the Committee, Mr. James Deegan, the Minister embarked on an enchanting tour of the Woodlands. The tour included delightful traditional Boghran and Accordion music at the Outdoor Learning Centre, culminating in a breathtaking panoramic view of the heartlands of Laois from the viewing tower atop the Woodlands, with the majestic Rock of Dunamaise and the Slieve Blooms in sight.


Mr James Deegan, Chairperson of the Carrigmeal Woodland Walks Committee and Proprietor of the Woodlands said “Today we gather to officially launch the Carrigmeal Walkways and Outdoor School by Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys T. D. The Outdoor School and Meeting place is in partnership with Dunamaise College and the aim is to get pupils out of the urban classrooms and into the woods and countryside to learn and appreciate the natural environment and the biodiversity contained therein. I am of the opinion that this new venture will prove popular with the scholars.

The trails consist of three kilometres of walkways with another ten kilometres in the adjoining Coillte Forest that is accessed by a stile at the Southern end of the site.

The woodlands themselves measure roughly sixty five acres in area, with the native Irish tree section planted in 1994 and the Biodiversity section planted in 2010.

The native tree section was thinned some thirteen years ago, when we commenced to construct the walkways. Funding from the Dept of Rural and Community Development in conjunction with Laois Co. Co. became available and that allowed us to upgrade the walking trails and add in other features for the benefit of the community that use it on a daily basis. The Walkways were extremely busy during the Covid Lockdown with golf courses closed and the site within the permitted limits from the nearest towns, they provided an excellent alternative to anybody who wished to take fresh air and exercise.

Apart from the daily walkers the Woodlands are used on a regular basis by Scouts Ireland, School Groups, Leinster Orientering Club, Southern Command of the Irish Army, Music Generation, Operation Transformation, National Learning Network Ireland and other various  groups. Recently we played host to over one hundred people from war torn Ukraine and with refreshments served an enjoyable afternoon was had by all.

So Minister I think your funding has been well spent and we thank you sincerely for it. Before I conclude I would also like to thank Laois Co. Co. Sports & Recreation Officer, Ms AnnMarie Maher, Liam Dunne LOETB, Conor Browne from Leader, John O Connell Forester and the Neighbours and friends who supported us in this venture.”

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