WIT Press

The Role Of Geotourism In Supporting Regeneration In Disadvantaged Rural Communities In Ireland


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P. J. O’Connor


The rural communities of the border area of north central Ireland have suffered economic and social deprivation as a consequence of civil conflict over a period of three decades. This prolonged strife has served to reduce the use of the countryside as an amenity and has hindered wider appreciation of the outstanding natural landscapes of the region. Recognising this, the two Geological Survey organisations on the island of Ireland (the Geological Survey of Ireland and the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland) have worked together since 1994 on a series of initiatives to try to address this problem and to assist the ongoing process of reconciliation among divided communities. Beginning with a project branded Landscapes from Stone, a series of popular and attractively illustrated maps and walking and touring guides were produced for the tourist market with funding support under the EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation (Peace 1). There is still a strong ongoing demand for these products which cover the twelve northern counties of Ireland on both sides of the border and which received the endorsement of most local authorities. The latest and most ambitious initiative is now underway in the Breifne Project based on the natural and cultural resources of a distinct geographic and geological crossborder region, which embraces parts of Counties Cavan, Fermanagh, Leitrim, Roscommon and Sligo. The project is supported by the five local authorities, the Geological Survey of Ireland, the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland and the University of Ulster with funding being provided by the EU Special Programmes Body under the Peace 2 Programme. Keywords: geotourism, sustainable rural tourism, ecotourism, European geoparks, peace and reconciliation, cross-border cooperation, EU support.


geotourism, sustainable rural tourism, ecotourism, Europeangeoparks, peace and reconciliation, cross-border cooperation, EU support.