Minister Ring cutting the ceremonial tape at the official unveiling of equipment at the Outdoor Gym in Ballyhaunis.

Eventful day for three Mayo communities

THE Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring has today participated in a number of events in Mayo.

He unveiled the government funded outdoor gym equipment in Ballyhaunis, officially unveiled the new shoe corner sculpture in Ballinrobe and early tonight launched the feasibility study for a recreational trail in the Knockmore Pontoon area at Knockmore Rathduff Resource Centre.

Last year, Minister Ring allocated €8,000 for outdoor gym equipment in Ballyhaunis under his Department’s Community Enhancement Programme (CEP) which provides capital grants to community groups to help improve local facilities.

Speaking at the unveiling of the outdoor gym equipment at the Friary Grounds in Ballyhaunis, Minister Ring said: “This gym equipment is a great addition to the Friary Grounds especially as we are all becoming more health conscious and also more aware of the mental health benefits associated with sporting activity.

“I know that prior to the opening Ballyhaunis Sports Hub held an open demonstration on how to use the equipment which was highly attended.

“I have no doubt that this outdoor gym equipment will prove a big hit with people of varying ages in the community. It is ideally located close to the Multi Use Games Area.

“Having allocated the capital funding for this equipment, I am delighted to see it being made available to the local community.

"Special thanks are due to Mayo Sports Partnership who worked so hard on this locally driven initiative and to the Mulligan family for their very generous donation which provided the seed capital for the project.”

Minister Ring introduced the Community Enhancement Programme in 2018 to provide capital grants to community groups to help improve local facilities.

Since then more than €540,000 has been allocated to communities in Mayo under the CEP.


Speaking at the unveiling of the shoe corner sculpture in Ballinrobe, Minister Ring said: “The new shoe corner sculpture is a unique and fitting reminder of times gone by in the town of Ballinrobe.

“It was common practice that people on their way into town, would walk as far as the corner of the Neale Road and Lough Mask Road in their bare feet and at that point, would stop and put on their shoes.

"On their way home, they would remove their shoes here and walk home barefoot to save them from wear and tear.

“Thankfully, we now live in different times but it is so important that we don’t forget our past.

"This sculpture is a powerful and poignant reminder of our history and of where we have come from.

"I heartily commend the TidyTowns committee here in Ballinrobe for their vision and passion in bringing this project to completion.

“It is this passion and pride in our place that have made Ireland’s towns and villages attractive and welcoming places for visitors.

"This new sculpture will help create a ‘sense of place’ for those who live and work and raise families in Ballinrobe and a fascinating historical insight for those who visit.

“The creation of this sculpture has been a wonderful collaborative effort.

"I must compliment the beautiful wood carving done by local artist, Tommy Kerrigan, who carved out this pair of boots from solid oak.

"I would also like to thank Trevor Grimes and all the craftspeople for the brilliant stonework. Averil Staunton, who is a local historian, did superb work on providing the historical context.”


The local community in Knockmore/Pontoon spearheaded a feasibility study for a recreational trail in the local area.

The study was supported with a €23,000 LEADER allocation from Minister Ring’s department.

Speaking at the event. Minister Ring said: “I commend the local community for their initiative in working to enhance and promote their local area.

"This is an excellent example of how the LEADER programme supports the development of rural communities. Under the current LEADER programme, 152 communities in Mayo have been supported with funding of over €6 million.

“This study was to assess the potential viability of a 9km walking trail from Healy’s Hotel to Knockmore Bay, which would straddle the shores of Lough Conn and Lough Cullen.

“The study looked at environmental constraints, permissive access/landowner consent, together with a business and marketing plan for a proposed recreational route in the Knockmore /Pontoon area.

“In time, it is envisaged that this trail would form part of a broader greenway trail that is planned, under the Mayo Tourism Strategy,  that would link Turlough village to Pontoon and Foxford and onwards to Ballina.

“We cannot underestimate the importance of tourism to our island and more importantly our regions.

"2018 was another record year for the tourism sector with 11.2 million visitors to our island which generated €6.1 billion in revenue.”