Sixty-two new walking trails, spanning 17 counties, have been added to Ireland’s National Walks Scheme, Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys has announced.

Five of the new trails are on two offshore islands - Inis Meáin and Cape Clear island - while the scheme now includes trails in Monaghan and Wexford for the first time.

This is part of a phased expansion that will see the number of trails on the walks scheme increase from 80 to 150 over the next two years.

The initiative is designed to boost outdoor recreation and rural tourism and is a key element of the country’s national outdoor recreation strategy.

Under the walks scheme, funding is provided to farmers and other landholders to maintain the walking trails that go through their holdings.

The scheme is operated by the Department of Rural and Community Development in conjunction with local development companies.

Among the new walks scheme trails being announced are:

  • Lúb Dún Fearbhaí, Inis Meáin, Co Galway.
  • Carrigmeal Woodland Loops, Co Laois.
  • Strickeen Mountain Walk, Co Kerry.
  • Cullentra Trail, Co Wexford.
  • The Devils Chimney, Co Sligo.
  • Ardmore Cliff Walk, Co Waterford.
  • Six Fastnet Trails, Co Cork.
  • The Monaghan Way, Co Monaghan.
  • Over €15m has been paid to farmers and landholders participating in the scheme since 2017, with an additional €1.4m spent on materials for the maintenance of trails. This expansion will see an additional annual investment of over €500,000 to rural areas through the scheme.

    “I want to make Ireland an international destination of choice for walkers and hikers. We have a unique offering in terms of our natural landscape filled with mountains, forests, lakes, rivers and sea,” Minister Humphreys said.


    “Often these amenities can only be truly appreciated by crossing through fields and land owned by local farmers. The National Walks Scheme is about working in partnership with landowners so we can open up access to local communities and tourists to enjoy these wonderful hidden gems we have all across Ireland.

    “I want to acknowledge and thank the work of all the farmers and landowners involved in the walks scheme who provide access to their holdings and who help to maintain the trails to a high standard for the benefit of a huge number of locals and visitors.

    “Without the goodwill of farmers, we would not have access to many of our favourite tracks and trails. It is incumbent on all of us to use these amenities responsibly, respect local landowners and, of course, leave no trace,” she said.

    The Department is now inviting expressions of interest from local development companies for new trails and substantial extensions to existing trails.

    The closing date for expressions of interest is 11 October 2024.