There was a great turnout to celebrate the official opening of the new extension to the Knockma hill trail yesterday.
It has been a significant community achievement with special thanks to the Caherlistrane and Kilcoona Community Council for its efforts in securing the land and funding for its development.
We launched the extension as part of the Big Hello, Ireland’s first National Community Weekend, which was initiated by my Department, the Department for Rural and Community Development.
The new loop around Knockma, which is one of the most popular walks in north Galway, has been attracting thousands of visitors each week.
It offers breathtaking views around the whole region from Connemara and Lough Corrib to Galway Bay and Clare, then across towards Abbeyknockmoy and East Galway.
The project shows what can be achieved when volunteers take the initiative to work with local authorities and state agencies.
Caherlistrane and Kilcoona Community Council, which was chaired at the time by Councillor Billy Connelly , worked with Galway County Council and the National Parks and Wildlife Service to acquire the land.
The work was put out to tender and completed around the middle of 2018. Since then, there has been a surge of visitors to Knockma, which is being marketed as part of Bord Fáilte’s campaign, Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands.”
The hill itself is steeped in folklore. Legend has it that Queen Maeve of Connacht is buried at the summit and the hill is also reputed to be the place where Finvarra, King of the Faeries, held his court.
The area also has a great musical tradition, with the hill being the inspiration for many of the songs included in the Amhráin Mhuighe Seola songbook that was collected in the early 20th century by Tuam Senator and folklorist, Mrs Eileen Costelloe.
Myself and Geraldine are picture with Seán Keane, who sang at the opening event.